The NFC East is going through a metamorphosis this season, or is it a renaissance? Either way, there are new faces abound in the division.
The Giants have a new head coach in Ben McAdoo and a retooled defense. The first place Cowboys have been driven by two rookies: QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. Washington added controversial CB Josh Norman and the Eagles are in full post-Chip Kelly mode.
Philadelphia made a bold pre-draft trade with Cleveland to get to the No. 2 spot this past spring for the right to select one of the two franchise QBs in the draft. The Rams selected Cal's Jared Goff first overall pick, leaving North Dakota State's Carson Wentz for the Eagles. Thus far, Goff has not taken a snap in a pro game while Wentz is flourishing under new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
Unlike the Rams with Goff, the Eagles and Pederson decided the Eagles needed to get Wentz going right away. After trading Sam Bradford to Minnesota at the beginning of the season, Wentz has started all seven games, throwing nine touchdown passes and three interceptions for a 92.5 passer rating.
Wentz has looked like a seasoned pro and suddenly, the Eagles are back in business. Pederson is being cautious with his prized rookie but knows he could be sitting on one of the league's future superstars.
"He can handle everything that we put in each week," Pederson on Wednesday. "I haven't held back anything. One thing I have to be careful of is really giving him too much."
The Giants will be getting their first gander at Wentz, a six-foot-five, 237-pounder who runs a 4.77 40 and can make all the throws. The Giants' pass rush has been struggling and the Eagles have been protecting Wentz fairly well. So far, he's been sacked 15 times and hit 35, which are below the league average.
McAdoo, who has worked with some of the best QBs in the league, is impressed with what he has seen thus far from Wentz.
"Wentz is a big, strong, athletic quarterback who has acclimated well to the pro game," McAdoo said. "You look at him and he has prototypical size. He moves well in the pocket already for a young quarterback. He keeps two hands on the ball which helps. He can slide, he can move, and he can come on out both ways, left and right, and makes throws both left and right. Plays with his eyes down the field even when the pocket's dirty."
Wentz said Wednesday that he felt no additional pressure facing the hated Giants and that his experience so far in the NFL has been mostly positive.
"It's felt pretty smooth for me," Wentz said. "Coming from North Dakota State, we did a lot of pro-style schemes and I did a lot of things that translated to the game in the NFL. So, for me, it was a pretty smooth transition."
The Giants intend to disrupt that this Sunday with a secondary that made the plays despite experiencing a rash of injuries. Wentz is new to the rivalry but knows the Giants' defense will pose many challenges this week.
"They're pretty impressive," he said. "They like to mix it up, they like to do a little bit of everything and it's one of those things, they don't really have a big tendency. They have tendencies within games so we'll have to go out and see what they want to do to us early and get a feel for it."
The first of what will likely be many classic showdowns between Wentz and Eli Manning, the Giants' future Hall of Fame QB, begins this Sunday. It promises to be a wild run.
"It'll definitively be exciting," said Wentz. "Obviously, to go up against a guy like that who's won a couple of Super Bowls and been around a long time. I got a lot of respect for him and his game. It'll be a fun one. But, I'm really focused on the Giants defense, that's for sure."