Carson Wentz and Ben Roethlisberger have a lot in common.
They're both pretty big guys — 6-foot-5 apiece, though Roethlisberger probably has a few pounds on Wentz. They both play quarterback in football crazy cities in Pennsylvania, but were thrown into the fire to start their NFL careers and both play with seeming reckless abandon.
They share the same agency, and prior to April's NFL draft they shared a meal.
The Steelers signal caller says he was a little shocked when he learned of the trade that moved the Eagles into the No. 2 spot in place of the Browns.
"I was really surprised," Roethlisberger told the media this week. "I thought I was going to be facing him two times [per year] versus Cleveland."
Ironically the Browns also passed up the chance to take Roethlisberger in 2004 — a quarterback with both an injury history and two Super Bowl rings. Eagles coach Doug Pederson, when the Birds first drafted Wentz, immediately said he hoped he would resemble the Pittsburgh star.
"Obviously the size, the arm strength," Pederson said Wednesday when asked about the two quarterbacks' similarities. "Carson’s probably a little bit better of an athlete. Moving around a little bit. And then the fact that they had great defenses around Ben and a running game and special teams and you can utilize all three of those and help your young quarterbacks that way. You've seen it time and time again with teams that have that formula. [Those teams] can be successful early with a young quarterback."
Can the Eagles succeed where other teams have not, slowing down Roethlisberger and his right hand man Antonio Brown while keeping the Wentz Wagon pushing forward?
"He's so smart and it's fun to watch him, really, and how he manages that offense and how he kind of commands that team," Pederson said. "Everybody rallies around him. Obviously, [he’s] a big leader. As you know, he's a tough guy to get to because of that."
Wentz was confronted with the comparison and not surprisingly maintained his humble disposition, saying it was "impressive," but that he had "a lot of work to do" to be in the conversation with Roethlisberger. He also said he has really enjoyed watching the Steelers quarterback play.
Perhaps he can take a page from his Week 3 opponent's book. Roethlisberger's quick release and mobility have helped him keep from being knocked around too much and it's a skill Eagles fans hope Wentz can learn. But convincing a quarterback to stop sacrificing his body and looking ahead long term is difficult, Pederson said.
"I think it's hard to rewire him," the coach started, entertaining a question about what it would take to limit the hits Wentz takes. "I think you just need to constantly keep talking with him and going back and showing him those plays on tape to just make him aware and conscious of, ‘Hey, again, as I mentioned before, I don't need the extra yard here. It's OK to throw the ball away. It’s OK to step out of bounds or slide.’ Just keeping showing him over and over and over again, because not only for his longevity, but obviously for the team, as well. You want to make sure that your quarterback, especially your starting quarterback, is the guy that's protecting himself the most."