If we rewind to the 2016 NFL Draft, we’d call both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles successful in their quests to secure franchise quarterbacks. The Rams traded up to the first overall pick and selected California Golden Bears QB Jared Goff, with the Eagles trading up to the second overall pick and selecting North Dakota State Bisons QB Carson Wentz. With both guys maintaining a level of friendship and competition, the two will forever be tied at the hip.
Fast forward to the dawn of both guys entering their fourth season in the NFL, it’s probably fair to take a step back and re-evaluate how the two young gunslingers have done thus far. Starting out, we can take a look at the major statistical outputs from both guys in terms of career totals and a per game breakdown (stats courtesy of www.pro-football-reference.com):
Looking at the totals proves the two are eerily similar. With two extra games played for Wentz, his totals (completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, interceptions) obviously surpass Goff’s totals. Even with that being the case, Goff has proven to be more effective in Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A), which takes into account most important factors of quarterback play. Here’s the formula:
(pass yards + 20*(pass TD) - 45*(interceptions thrown) - sack yards)/(passing attempts + sacks)
Not only that, but Goff surpasses Wentz in Y/A, AY/A, NY/A, and QB rating (which may or may not be thought of as archaic).
Looking at it from another perspective, Goff has one more win and three less losses, has two more playoff wins (with four total playoff appearances compared to none for Wentz), a NFC Championship, and a Super Bowl appearance. Goff has also undoubtedly been the more durable player thus far into their careers with Wentz suffering a major wrist injury in college, a torn ACL against the Rams in 2017, and a back issue that seen him miss the 2018 postseason.
On a per game basis (which may be the easiest evaluation between the two), the signal callers are once again incredibly similar. On four less passes per game, Goff and Wentz are separated by two single passing yards and 0.1 touchdowns per game, with both registering an average of 0.7 interceptions per game.
If we begin to look at the comparison in a different manner, both players have been blessed to have fantastic offensive minds and play callers in Head Coaches Sean McVay and Doug Pederson. The major difference is that Wentz has three years under his coach, while Goff needed to suffer under the reign of archaic Head Coach Jeff Fisher during his rookie season (as well as a horrendous roster). That begs the question, are we allowing the tiny sample size of a throwaway rookie season to create a narrative that Goff cannot break? That he’s simply a product of whatever McVay can create? Sure, Goff is clearly limited athletically and is more comfortable in the structure of a play, meaning he’ll generally stay in the pocket and on his reads as opposed to breaking structure and playing “backyard football”, whereas Wentz has been able to create some magic in terms of broken plays and scrambling. Doesn’t Wentz also benefit from a fantastic head coach who allows him to be as successful as he is? Is there any stock to be put into the fact that Wentz was already effectively replaced by Nick Foles for two postseasons? Does the offensive system that Pederson created (which turned Foles from potential retiree to starting QB once again) not have anything to do with the successes of Carson Wentz?
The debate between Goff and Wentz is ongoing and will likely never be “decided”. That becomes part of the intrigue though. The major question becomes, why are the Eagles lauded for extending Wentz when the Rams are in a state of potential “quarterback purgatory” and potentially better off letting Goff walk in favor of another cheap rookie quarterback? Examining the two with as little bias as possible shows that they’re incredibly similar statistically, and while Wentz may be better out of structure creating plays on the fly, Goff may be better at staying on schedule and performing within the structure of a designed offense. Is either team wrong for rewarding their guy? Is either team really better off letting guys who’ve proven they can win at the highest level of football there is walk, only to potentially not be able to replace them effectively?
We’ll probably never know, because both the Eagles and Rams would be smart to continue to invest in Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. The debate looms, and with the both guys getting another year to further their quest as great quarterbacks, the intrigue has only begun.