But that doesn’t mean they haven’t kept a close eye on one another.
“We’ve shared a number of crossover film this year while playing similar opponents and everything,” Wentz said. “I’ve seen him on film a handful of times.”
Goff and Wentz didn’t just go No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2016 draft; they were represented by the same agency, Rep 1 Sports, and spent a lot of time working out together in the weeks leading up to the combine. They built a friendship then and keep in touch now. Soon, they’ll become only the fifth quarterback duo to be selected at the top of the draft and actually face off, with each of their teams among the very best in the NFL.
Wentz, in his second year in the same system, is putting up MVP-caliber numbers, leading the NFL with 29 touchdown passes and sporting a 72.5 Total QBR. He has been at his best when pressured: In 87 passing attempts while under duress, Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns with zero interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Rams coach Sean McVay called Wentz “a very talented individual” who is also “conscientious.”
“He’s been tremendous this year — in everything he’s been doing, especially his ability to extend plays and make plays outside the pocket,” Goff said. “I know that’s always something he was always really good at and is continuing to get really good at. A lot of respect for him and what he’s done. He’s one guy who has really worked his way into everything he’s earned. He’s deserved everything he’s earned up to this point, and I’m expecting him to continue to keep getting better.”
Few have improved like Goff, who struggled mightily through seven rookie starts but has thrived under the system of his first-year head coach, McVay. From 2016 to 2017, Goff has made significant improvements in completion percentage (54.6 to 62.2), yards per game (155.6 to 265.3), yards per attempt (5.3 to 8.1), touchdown-to-interception ratio (0.71 to 3.33) and passer rating (63.6 to 98.4).
“Seeing him on tape and everything, you just see some of the throws he makes and some of the things they’re doing offensively down there,” Wentz said. “He’s having a great year, and it’s exciting for him.”
“It’s fun to watch, quite honestly,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Goff. “Just to see the growth in his play and all the things that we saw in him when we were scouting and working him out and evaluating all these quarterbacks a year ago. This is exactly what we saw. It’s exciting. Obviously he’s well coached there.”
Unlike Goff, Wentz thrived immediately as a rookie. But he took his lumps in the second half of the 2016 season, right around the time when Goff was named the Rams’ starter and began to struggle himself. Pederson brought up how much football Goff and Wentz had been playing by that point, going from their collegiate seasons to draft preparations to the NFL.
They hit the proverbial rookie wall — albeit to varying degrees — and became energized by a customary offseason.
Wentz said he and Goff are “good friends” who “got along great” in the pre-draft process and believes they’ll be “forever linked.” But they have each done their best to keep the focus on the game this week, which isn’t all that hard. The Eagles are 10-2, while ranked first in point differential and tied for the NFL lead averaging 30.1 points per game. The Rams are 9-3, while ranked second in point differential and tied for the NFL lead averaging 30.1 points per game.
“There’s a lot more at stake than just me versus Jared and everything,” Wentz said. “But at the same time, it’s definitely exciting.”
Goff was asked what it would be like to be on the same field as Wentz and corrected the reporter.
“We won’t be on the field at the same time,” Goff said. “Actually, one of us will be on the sidelines and one of us will be out there. But it’ll be fun. It’ll be good to see him; it’ll be good to compete in the same game as him.”