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December 13, 2018

What they're saying: Don't bank on another Foles miracle for Eagles after Wentz's latest injury

Plus, why you'd be crazy to give up on the Eagles quarterback — and a look at what the injury means for Wentz's future

News came down on Thursday that the back pain Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has been playing through is actually a fractured vertebra in his back. Needless to say, that's not what fans wanted to hear heading into Sunday's big game against the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams. 

And, given that Wentz has reportedly been playing with back pain for several weeks now, the reports of his latest injury have raised some concerns about the Eagles medical staff, which was overhauled in the offseason. Here's what PhillyVoice Eagles writer Jimmy Kempski had to say:

Wentz's back issues are nothing new. He was listed on the Eagles' injury report both in Weeks 7 and 8 with a back injury. It is unknown if he has been playing with a fracture in his back for the last two months. With the number of injuries the Eagles have sustained -- and a number of examples of players returning to the field too quickly -- it's fair to have serious concerns about either the medical staff, or the Eagles' willingness to allow injured players to play, or both. That's the downside.

If you're a silver lining kind of person, Wentz's back injury might help explain his dropoff in play this season... [MORE]

Here's a look at what the rest of the local and national media is saying about the Birds' (once again) injured passer.

Not again...

Danny Heifetz | The Ringer

Over at The Ringer, Westworld conspiracy theorist Danny Heifetz writes that, unlike last year, this Eagles team just isn't build for a Nick Foles-led postseason run.

We’re not counting out the Eagles. We would never do that. Not after last year. Having said that, we might have to count out the Eagles.

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz has a fractured vertebra and is unlikely to play against the Rams on Sunday Night Football, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. ... This also marks another significant injury for Wentz, who suffered a torn ACL and LCL that ended his season in 2017, fractured ribs in August 2016, and a broken wrist in October of his final year at North Dakota State in 2015.

The team believes Wentz can avoid surgery and heal the vertebra with rest, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Wentz was shut down for the remainder of the season. For any other team on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, losing its starting quarterback would be akin to waving a white flag. But this is the Philadelphia Eagles, who won the Super Bowl with backup Nick Foles and then decided not to trade him with this kind of scenario in mind. Foles has already shown what happens to those who doubt him. Ironically, Foles took over the squad last December 10 when Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams.

But beyond the surface similarities, the team Foles will likely take over looks nothing like last year’s...  []

As for that part about Wentz's concerning injury history, former quarterback Dan Orlovsky pointed to another QB with an injury-plagued start to his career who turned out to be OK.

Follow the money

John Marks |

Wentz's 2018 struggles — which make more sense in light of Thursday's injury news — could change the strategy for the Eagles when it comes to re-signing their franchise quarterback? Next season is the last of his rookie deal, and typically, if a team intends on re-signing a player of Wentz's value, they do see the summer before his final season under contract. 

However, two straight season-ending injuries (assuming Wentz is indeed done for the year) may complicate that strategy. Especially if they're worried about spending Aaron Rodgers-type money on a QB with an injury history. Then again, he's been incredibly impressive when healthy ... and if he returns healthy next year and performs, then what?

Here's what John Marks of has to say:

There’s pluses and minuses to this strategy.  Should Wentz remain under his original rookie deal, that gives the Eagles greater roster flexibility. Theoretically they could then hit the free agent market for a Le’Veon Bell or some other hot commodity, in addition to extending some of their own impending free agents.  With better weapons and more financial motivation Wentz could flourish, putting the Eagles back in contention.

And if he gets hurt again or continues the kind of up and down play that’s been more the norm this year than the exception, then they can congratulate themselves on making a sound business decision.

But suppose the 2019 Carson Wentz turns back into that 2017 MVP-level QB before he blew out his knee in L.A. against the Rams?  Now what happens when it comes time for that extension?   Does Wentz, who’s always seemed more of a “we” rather than “me” guy on and off the field, feel he’s been slighted and decide to break the bank?  Will the Eagles—regardless of how they fare next season--have any choice but to exceed to his demands?  []

Picks of the litter

Gregg Rosenthal |

Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will forever be linked as the two top picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. They were supposed to face off for the second time on Sunday night — just over a year after Wentz tore his ACL in Los Angeles — but that's not going to happen now.

One is climbing Gregg Rosenthal's QB rankings while the other is slipping. Are they two ships passing in the night? Or are they simply taking different paths to becoming two of the best quarterbacks in the league?

Wentz is ranked No. 13 in the QB Index, which is roughly where Goff stood a season ago when Wentz suffered his injury. The Sean McVay protege has taken another clear step in his development and is ranked No. 6 so far this season, even after his rough performance last Sunday night in Chicago. Wondering what Goff's career might be like without McVay is missing the point. In Goff, McVay has found a pocket quarterback who can hit receivers in stride and anticipate throws beautifully to execute the Rams' precision offense.

Goff doesn't have the athleticism or the theoretical upside of Wentz, but Goff is naturally more accurate, and he hasn't missed any time since being elevated to QB1 as a rookie. Goff's career has followed a steady incline and he's closer in age to Baker Mayfield than he is to Wentz, who is almost two years older.

I don't want to be a prisoner of the moment and say Goff was the right pick; it also would have been unfair to say Goff was a bust two years ago. It's fair to say, though, that the analysts who backed Goff heading into the 2016 draft feel vindicated, while the Wentz hive can point to his highs of 2017 and still support their man. It's also fair to note that Goff will be the one on the field Sunday when the Eagles face the Rams, trying to secure a playoff bye, with his ascent potentially reaching all the way to the Super Bowl.  []

Too early to give up

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

I'll just get out of the way and let Roob tell you what's up...

I’ve written a lot about Wentz the last couple weeks, but I needed to again because this needs to be said:

If you’ve given up on Carson Wentz you’re out of your freaking mind.

The way he played last year before he got hurt — flinging the ball up and down the field, using his legs as a springboard for playmaking, making huge plays at huge moments — didn’t just disappear.

Considering everything, he’s really performed at a high level this year. He shredded his knee a year ago yesterday. He didn’t have OTAs. He didn’t have a training camp. He didn’t have a preseason. ...

All Wentz needs is some time. It’s the one thing we never want to give anybody, but he needs it.  []

A Hall of a comparison

Jeff Kerr |

Despite Wentz's struggles, he's right in line with one of the greatest to ever do it through his first 40 starts, as Jeff Kerr of points out:

Carson Wentz has had one heck of a start to his NFL career, already beating the pace of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Wentz has crossed the 40-game milestone in his NFL career, which suddenly drew comparisons to Peyton Manning.

Through 40 games, Wentz has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 10,152 yards and 70 touchdowns to 23 interceptions for a 92.5 passer rating. He has a 23-17 record and finished third in the MVP voting after his second season in the NFL.

How does Manning compare? Manning has completed 60 percent of his passes for 10,312 yards with 70 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. He has a 22-18 record and finished third in the MVP voting in his second year.  []

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