Rams’ Jared Goff, Eagles’ Carson Wentz play out ‘friendly rivalry’ Sunday

THOUSAND OAKS — Jared Goff is trying to bounce back from a rough season. Carson Wentz is trying to bounce back from a bruiser of a season-opening game.

There’s always something to link Goff and Wentz, the Rams and Eagles quarterbacks who were picked No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2016 NFL draft.

This week, the one-time rookie stars seem to share an old pro’s instinct for playing down personal rivalries.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Carson,” Goff said four days before the Rams (1-0) and Eagles (0-1) play in Philadelphia. “We’ve kind of had this friendly rivalry ever since we got into the league, just being in the same (draft) class, training together.

“(I) always just want to be competitive. I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing when he’s playing against us. At the same time, I’m playing their defense and he’s playing our defense. I wish him the best. I hope he plays well enough but we still win.”

Wentz is thinking the same thing.

“Lot of respect for him as a player and as a guy, and I consider him a friend,” Wentz said of Goff. “But the rest of it, the rivalry, all of that stuff, that’s neither here nor there for both of us. I just enjoy playing against him. It should be another fun one.”

Comparisons were unavoidable after Goff went first out of Cal and Wentz went second out of North Dakota State.

Even before that, actually, since they have the same agent and worked out together during pre-draft inspections.

While their friendship now consists of rare football-related meetings and occasional texts, their performances are hard to separate.

• Each is his team’s bellwether. Last season, the Rams and Eagles each went 6-0 in their quarterbacks’s highest-rated games, 3-10 in the rest.

• For both, triumph goes throwing arm in throwing arm with frustration. Goff led the Rams to the Super Bowl following the 2018 season (but they lost to New England). Wentz was the Eagles’ regular-season star on their way to beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl following the 2017 season (but his injury made ex-Ram Nick Foles the Super Bowl quarterback).

• They have similar places in their teams’ histories. Goff’s 275 yards passing against Dallas on Sunday moved him past Kurt Warner and up to No. 5 in the Rams record book with 14,494. Wentz is fifth in Eagles history with 14,461 yards.

• Among active quarterbacks, they’re 23rd (Goff) and 24th (Wentz) in passing yards, 10th (Wentz) and 11th (Goff) in NFL passer ratings, and tied for 26th in fourth-quarter comebacks with six.

There is at least one key statistical difference: Goff averages 7.6 yards per pass, which ranks sixth among active quarterbacks, while Wentz averages 6.9, which ranks 20th.

And there’s a big style difference, owing to Wentz’s size (6-foot-5, 237 pounds) and elusiveness.

“I think that’s part of what makes him so good, is how good he is off-schedule, how strong he is in the pocket, and how smart he is,” Goff (6-4, 222), a two-time Pro Bowl selection, said of Wentz, a one-time Pro Bowler.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) walks off the field after a injury against the Los Angeles Rams in the second half of a NFL football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 in Los Angeles. Philadelphia Eagles won 43-35. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

This will be the third time the teams have met since 2016, but Goff and Wentz have yet to face each other over a full game.

Wentz tore a knee late in the Eagles’ 43-35 win at the Coliseum in Week 14 in 2017 (both he and Goff played well). Wentz was out with a back injury when the Eagles beat the Rams 30-23 at Philadelphia in Week 15 in 2018 (Goff passed for 339 yards).

“Maybe (the matchup mattered to them) the first year or second year when both quarterbacks were young, but now that we’re into year five, I think it’s just a matter of playing football and helping your team win,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday in a conference call with L.A. writers.

Goff comes in off a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium, while Wentz comes in off a 27-17 loss at Washington in which the Eagles blew a 17-0 lead.

“I’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” Wentz, who threw two interceptions that led to Washington touchdowns and fumbled on two of the eight times he was sacked, said Wednesday in Philadelphia. “I’m looking forward to bouncing back personally, and know the offense is.”

Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said it will take “team effort” to keep Wentz from doing that. Staley compared him, naturally, to Goff.

“Where they’re similar is they can go and win any game on the schedule,” Staley said. “If we’re behind, if we got to come back, if we got to go on the road, we feel good about these guys, leading our football team.”

Notes

The Rams reported no significant injuries as of Wednesday, but tight end Gerald Everett was in street clothes for practice and Sean McVay said running back Malcolm Brown’s reps would be limited because of “soreness.” Everett left Sunday’s game with a back issue but returned. Brown had 18 carries for 79 yards, both career highs … The Rams will make separate cross-country trips to Philadelphia and Buffalo the next two Sundays, flying on Saturday each time. McVay said that’s better than staying back east because players can sleep at home and not be “cooped up in a hotel room with just all the restrictions with what corona entails.” … Staley, asked if he was nervous Sunday, compared it to his last game calling plays as a defensive coordinator: “I think that I felt a lot like I did in the (2016 Division III) national semifinal against Wisconsin-Oshkosh when I was at John Carroll (University).”