Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Philadelphia Eagles counterpart Carson Wentz are relishing their first ever meeting as the top two picks from the 2016 NFL Draft prepare to go head-to-head.
The pair will forever be linked as the two stars from last year's draft, after the Rams used the number one pick on Goff, while Wentz moved to the Eagles with pick two.
Goff and Wentz will share the field for the first time on Sunday when the high-flying Eagles take on the Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
"It'll be fun," Goff said Wednesday. "I think it'll be good to see him, good to talk to him and good to compete on the same field. But ultimately, I'm competing against their defense and he's competing against ours and that's kind of the way it goes. I'm sure it will be a fun one to watch."
While Goff pointed out he and Wentz will not be on the field at the same time, they are both thrilled to play against each other.
"We'll be forever linked because of the draft and everything and I think we're both excited for this game and just for those matchups in the future," Wentz said.
"But, at the end of the day they're a great football team and so are we right now, so there's a lot riding on this one just because we've got two good NFC opponents, so there's a lot more at stake than just me versus Jared and everything. But, at the same time it's definitely exciting."
Both quarterbacks have blossomed in their second NFL seasons. Goff has thrown for 3,184 yards with 20 touchdowns and only six interceptions to help the Rams (9-3) clinch their first winning season since 2003.
Goff had just five touchdown passes and seven picks in seven games as a rookie.
"You've got to learn from the mistakes as well and we go through the good and the bad together," first-year Rams head coach Sean McVay said Wednesday. "I think what I've seen from Jared that's been so impressive is his ability that no matter what the moment is, no matter how big it is at that point in the game, regardless of what's occurred prior to that whether he's had a successful drive or whether we've turned the football over — he's fearless and he's not afraid to fail.
"He goes out there and he's got a certain confidence and a belief in his ability to get it done. And a belief in his team-mates and I think that rubs off on guys. That even-keeled demeanour and that kind of fearless mindset mentality, especially from the quarterback position is something that you sure feel good about as a coach and I think that's why he's going to be a special player for us."
Wentz got off to a fast start as a rookie before trailing off and finishing with 3,782 passing yards and 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He is an MVP candidate this year as the Eagles (10-2) can clinch the NFC East with a win.
McVay, who saw Wentz twice as a rookie while working as the offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins, said the 24-year-old was impressive, but his improvement to year two has been even more remarkable.
"He's a smart player," McVay said of Wentz, who has 3,005 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. "You can just see by the way that he plays the game — he understands what he's seeing from the defenses and how that affects his decision-making and what he's going to do with the football.
"Then, clearly he's got the talent both with his arm and with his overall athleticism to utilise his legs to beat you. Those are scary things to try to defend and it's why he's been playing at such a high level and why he's a great quarterback."
Wentz and Goff did not really know each other before the draft, but became friends during the 2016 draft process. It helps that they share the same agent.
"It's been cool seeing the year he's been having," Wentz said on Wednesday. "I think we're both pretty excited for this one."
Goff said of Wentz: "He's been tremendous this year. Everything he's been doing, especially his ability to extend plays and make plays outside the pocket. 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 expecting him to continue to keep getting better. He's a really fun guy to watch."
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