GREEN BAY – As Brett Favre’s backup for two separate four-year stints in Green Bay, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson surely has plenty of stories he could share with his new protégé, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
Pederson doesn’t dig into the Favre vault much in the process of tutoring Wentz, though.
“A little bit,” Wentz said in a conference call with Green Bay media on Wednesday. “Sometimes I’m bringing him up and asking him about him, but it’s not every week. It’s not a lot.”
Pederson may not need to go there much, in part, because it appears Wentz is on his own path to success in the NFL.
“I kind of stay away, and the only reason I stay away – as great a quarterback that Brett was – I just want Carson to be Carson,” Pederson said in his conference call. “I don’t want to compare the two and turn him into somebody he’s not.
“There’s still the mentality part … I don’t want to call it the gunslinger, but it’s the aggressive mentality down the field that Carson has that I saw obviously in Brett.”
Pederson and Wentz are currently tied together as the future of an Eagles franchise that will host the Packers on Monday night. Pederson was hired this year to replace Chip Kelly, and Philadelphia then traded up for the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to select Wentz out of North Dakota State.
The rookie QB’s 84.2 passer rating through 10 games is more than solid for a player who was questioned about making the jump from the FCS to the NFL, but the Eagles were right about having no qualms.
As expected given the circumstances and an ultra-competitive NFC East division, the 5-5 Eagles have been up and down. They started 3-0 but have lost five of their last seven, though four of those losses were by one score, including one in overtime to a one-loss Dallas team.
“We still go through some growing pains with him a little bit,” Pederson said of Wentz. “He’s not accustomed as an athlete, as a quarterback, to losing as many games as he has. It’s frustrating for him, but it’s all part of the business. I know there’s going to be brighter days ahead for him.
“The way he prepares and the way he handles his business on and off the football field is a recipe for success later on. For me, I just have to keep steady with it and keep teaching him and keep growing with him. Even though there’s going to be some hard times, we’re going to be better for it.”
Pederson joked that the “honeymoon” with the Philly media ended the day after he was hired, but he knew what he was getting into as a former player and assistant coach there.
He still recalls fondly his two backup stints in Green Bay (1995-98, 2001-04), and he considers all the coaches he played for and coached with – Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid, Mike Sherman, among others – a part of the head coach he is, though he added his experience as a player gives him a good feel for the locker room as well.
It was just eight years ago that Pederson was coaching at Calvary Baptist Academy in Louisiana. Once he got back into the NFL as a coach, he rose quickly through the ranks, going from offensive quality control (2009-10) and QB coach (2011-12) with Philadelphia to offensive coordinator (2013-15) with Kansas City, and now back to the Eagles.
His team has played its best football at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Packers are headed Monday night. Philadelphia is 4-0 at home and has not allowed more than 15 points to a visiting opponent this season.
In bringing along a rookie quarterback, Pederson’s playing experience at the position, along with that of offensive coordinator Frank Reich – backup to another Hall of Famer in Buffalo’s Jim Kelly – has been helpful to Wentz.
“It’s been great for me. They get it,” Wentz said. “They understand the pressures of the position, the ins and outs of the position, what you see as a quarterback, how you see things differently. I think they really get it, and that’s helped me a lot.”
As for Favre, Pederson said he’s still in touch with the Hall of Famer, mostly via text message. He did say he might call on his old friend to visit the team at some point and share a few words.
“Just hearing sometimes from former players who have played this game at a high level, and how they prepared and some of the adversity that they faced along the way to get to where they are and the success that they’ve had – especially (for) young players in the league today – it would be very beneficial for them to hear somebody like Brett speak to the team,” he said.
Maybe then Wentz can get the Favre stories firsthand.