Merril Hoge: 'Why do they struggle? They're taught absolutely nothing'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday September 12, 2016


Carson Wentz was supposed to “redshirt” the 2016 season for the Eagles and only threw 24 preseason passes, but he played well in his first NFL game Sunday, and ESPN’s Merril Hoge brought it back to college preparation.

Injuries and trades put Wentz into the starting job for Week 1, and he went 22-for-37 for 278 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 29-10 win over the Browns. His pro-style background helped for a quick transition.

“The mixture of things they did — they went empty, they went under the center, they booted him — they did everything that he did in college,” Hoge said on Sportscenter. “When you study Wentz, you knew he had prototypical talent, because he played in a pro-style system. He had to understand fronts, coverages, where my hot is. He had to control that. He went under center, went in the shotgun, did all these things.

“Transitioning players out of the spread, especially the air raid version, they are taught nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m not saying (what) you have to do in high school or college. But when you look at guys, why do they struggle? They’re not taught anything. Wentz knew how to do all of this, so now we can work on attacking and playing. Yes, we’re going to groom him, but he’s already done these things, conceptually. You understand and know what to look for.”

It was just a week ago that Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman criticized QB development in college. But even coaches like David Shaw say their primary job is to win and graduate players, not get them to the NFL.

In Los Angeles, No. 1 pick Jared Goff opens the year as the third-string QB. He’s struggled to adjust to a pro-style. Of course, it’s not always the case — see Cam Newton’s and Marcus Mariota’s early NFL success— but Hoge’s point was Wentz could play sparingly in the preseason and still be ready for Week 1.

Former Eagles executive Louis Riddick also pointed to the support system the Eagles put around the position, from the coaches to the backup.

“You saw the results of all the work and resources they poured into developing that position,” Riddick said. “Not just by drafting him and trading up. But No. 1, hiring Doug Pederson, who comes from a very specific line of coaching quarterbacks, hiring (offensive coordinator) Frank Reich, hiring (QB coach) John DeFilippo, it’s a lot of resources.

“Even though Chase Daniel didn’t play yesterday, he’s the perfect kind of backup to tutor a young guy. There’s a reason why you pay guys like that. It’s not for the insurance of playing him in the event of injury. This is the kind of guy who has the right kind of mentality to help a kid like this. He’s not going to sit there and try to hurt him. He’s going to give him everything he can to help him succeed. I think you saw all of that come together, combined with the fact he’s playing the Cleveland Browns.”

Here's one example of Wentz making a great play.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.