Ford: Philly now Carson City

Wentz Pederson panel 1200x800 ChipFox 090516
Carson Wentz, left, was all smiles after Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday the rookie quarterback would start Sunday's regular season opener against Cleveland.

Unless the Eagles reacquire either Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez - circumstances that seem considerably unlikely at the moment - not a single pass will be attempted for the Eagles this season by a quarterback who was on the roster the previous year.

At least in the history of this franchise, where one season holds hands with the next in a line of quarterback succession that was not always orderly but was at least discernible, this is a seismic departure from how things operate. The only other time it happened in the team's 84-year history was 1943 when the Eagles combined with Pittsburgh to form the war-year Steagles.

So, in case you were wondering, what was already an odd season got considerably stranger over the weekend as the Eagles traded away their starting quarterback eight days before the opener and elevated a small-college rookie coming off injury to the lead role.

The factors that led to this upheaval are complex, but it comes down to the Vikings believing they couldn't win without Sam Bradford and the Eagles believing they couldn't win with him. Everything else - including the acquisition of a (probably pretty bad) first-round draft pick - are just ripples emanating from the rock that landed in Minnesota's pond when Teddy Bridgewater tore up his knee last Tuesday.

In a very real way, the Vikings' situation threw a dropcloth over the quarterback corner into which Howie Roseman had painted the Eagles. They overspent badly on the position, left their incumbent starter a lame duck - a decision so bizarre that the straightest of arrows walked out of camp for a while - and put themselves in a through-the-looking-glass position in which success would be failure for the long-term plan and failure success.

If Bradford and the Eagles had a bad season, then the transition to Carson Wentz would be easy. If he played very well, then things would have gotten really complicated. Bradford's trade value would have been higher, but how do you move away from a former No. 1 pick in the prime of his career in favor of a No. 2 pick whose NFL ability is an unknown?

That would have been a puzzler, but it was solved by getting value for Bradford - good value, considering everything - and turning 2016 into an absolute rebuilding year in which results take a backseat to the process. Selling that to the veterans in the locker room is another matter. Selling the arrival of Wentz to the fan base, however, is a snap.

They could have padded the corners of this move by starting Chase Daniel for a few games. Regardless of what coach Doug Pederson said, it's difficult to believe he wouldn't have preferred giving at least a token shot to the guy he lobbied to come here with the promise that if opportunity arose that would happen. Considering Pederson's own playing history in this very same situation, and considering Wentz's so-recently broken ribs, it is astounding that didn't take place.

Instead, the Carson Wentz era begins swaddled in a flak jacket and with the wearer still green to the position at this level. He is being put in a tough spot, one that indicates how much the organization expects of him and how little it expects of the season that begins Sunday.

"We're going to reflect the determination and drive that this city has. We're going to be tough on both sides of the ball," Howie Roseman said, when asked about this season. "We're going to build along the lines - we kept 11 offensive linemen and 10 defensive linemen - and we'll see progress. And I think that's the expectation. How that translates I have no idea."

In other words, yikes!

Still, the Vikings got them out from under the Bradford mess - although not until the Eagles picked up the $5.5 million back-end of his signing bonus on Thursday - and they got a first-rounder and a fourth-rounder in the process, even if the first-round pick might be 20 places lower than the one they surrendered as part of the machinations to land Wentz.

Outflanking Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman isn't a given here. He still has five draft picks between the second and fourth rounds next April and might use some of them to jump past the pick he gave up. Spielman has made nine first-round selections in the last five years, and they all remain on the Vikings' roster. The last three low first-round picks taken by the Eagles are named Danny Watkins, Marcus Smith and Nelson Agholor. It will take a while, but we'll eventually see who won the trade. It's impossible to do so now.

Spielman, with a top-five defense, a solid offensive line and Adrian Peterson, didn't have much choice but to throw in with Bradford, the best option out there. His team has a real chance. The Vikings were 11-5 last year with Bridgewater managing the games reasonably well despite taking 44 sacks, ranking 21st in quarterback rating and 28th in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Can Bradford replace that? Sure, and finally healthy and protected, he might do a lot more.

That wasn't going to happen with the Eagles, though. In fact, it was impossible to tell what would have happened. The offensive line is suspect, the running game undependable and the receivers shaky at best.

There is more clarity as to what will happen now: Not a whole lot. But it will happen with Carson Wentz as the opening starter and without a Plan B if that huge bet on the future turns out to be a mistake.

An NFL organization doesn't play it like this very often for a reason, but the Eagles are plowing forward. Don't be surprised if the ground is a little rocky for a while.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports