September 19, 2018
Carson Wentz is back under center for the Eagles — and he'll be throwing passes to old friend Jordan Matthews on Sunday. Nick Foles is returning to his backup role (for now). And the Super Bowl champions aren't getting a free pass from fans after a rough loss to the Bucs on Sunday.
Here's a look at what they're saying about the Eagles heading into Philly's Week 3 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
This is a great read from Bo Wulf of The Athletic, breaking down the behind-the-scenes moves that brought Wentz to Philly in the first place. My favorite tidbit? The fact that Howie Roseman has only ever had a drink in his office one time.
I'm calling BS. There's no way that guy was sober the night Chip Kelly got fired...
A day after news first broke of the trade — Maxwell, Alonso and the 13th overall pick in exchange for the eighth overall pick — word spread that the Dolphins had an issue with Maxwell’s physical. By this point, Roseman had already begun circling back to Robinson and the Titans, who were now back in play. The necessary first move in the grand plan to acquire a young quarterback was in peril because of a shoulder injury the Eagles were sure Maxwell did not have. After some back and forth with Tannenbaum and a day’s worth of nervousness, the two sides agreed to include a contingency in the trade in case Maxwell went on injured reserve because of the real-or-imagined shoulder condition.
Maxwell went on to start 15 games for the Dolphins over a season-plus before he was released in the middle of the 2017 season. Alonso has started all but one game for Miami since joining the team. Two months later, the Dolphins would draft Laremy Tunsil 13th overall, who they would presumably have drafted at No. 8 anyway. And they were later awarded three 2017 comp picks, including the highest such pick in the third round. For the Dolphins, the move worked out fine. For the Eagles, it forever changed the course of the franchise.
“To this day, I’ve drank in my office one day,” Roseman now says. “We all took a shot when the trade went through at 4 o’clock. Because now we’re in position.” [theathletic.com]
Speaking of behind-the-scenes pieces, this one from Tim McManus is also very well done. It's a deep dive into how Wentz was able get himself ready to Sunday. And while the physical rehab speaks for itself, it's the mental processes that make for the most compelling parts of the story.
The difficult situation didn't impact the way Wentz carried himself, his friends and teammates say. Even the night of the injury, while still at the Los Angeles Coliseum, some sensed he already had accepted the challenge that lay ahead and begun preparing the mental groundwork for his comeback. Days after the surgery, he was right back on task with the various projects he was working on and responsibilities in his life, surprising those who were still learning about the unrelenting nature of the 25-year-old North Dakotan. For Wentz, it was business as usual, only now there was the added duty of rehab, which he attacked like anything else: with uncommon precision and intensity.
Left tackle Jason Peters posted an Instagram video during the early stages of his recovery that summed up the eagerness of the franchise quarterback: There was Wentz, with a full brace still covering his left leg, hurling passes across the training room while sitting on his backside. He wasn't going to let the fact that he could barely move stop him from getting some throws in. [espn.com]
Speaking of Wentz's mental state, Jarrett Bell asked the question every Eagles fan is wondering about: Should Wentz change his style in order to protect himself from re-injury?
Can [Wentz] change his style to reduce risk?
“I don’t know if he can,” Jaworski said. “We’re about to find out on Sunday.”
It’s easy for armchair critics to debate, without the pressure of making split-second decisions. It’s real life for Wentz, 25, and maybe the difference will ultimately define the length and quality of his career. Playing scared won’t cut it. Playing smart matters. He might also incorporate every imaginable self-preservation measure and still get hurt. It’s football. But change too much, and maybe there’s another risk – losing the edge that made him special in the first place.
Then again, perhaps Wentz 2.0 will reflect another layer of evolution after the Eagles went through a deliberate process to not rush their franchise centerpiece back too soon. Although Wentz generally protected himself well last season, when he led the league with 33 TD passes at the time of his injury, he can stand to get rid of the ball quicker. That’s standard thinking for any young quarterback transitioning from college.
As for the running, Wentz averaged fewer than five rushes per game in 2017. So it’s not like he ran wild. It’s just that Eagles fans might cringe every time he bolts from the pocket. And as he gains experience, he’ll get better at seeing and sensing danger.
But you tell him not to dive into the end zone when there’s a game to be won. [usatoday.com]
Over in enemy territory, they're just wondering whether or not Wentz will be any good, given that he hasn't played a snap in an NFL game in over nine months. Sure, he's been practicing since the start of training camp, but as any former player will tell you, there's a huge difference between practice speed and game speed.
Wentz was arguably the front runner for the MVP award last season before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 14 when he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee.
He was able to participate in training camp this summer but was just recently cleared for contact. Seeing as he did not play in any preseason games and teams don’t allow their quarterbacks to get hit in practice, this game will be the first time Wentz has taken contact since the injury.
How rusty will he be, and will he appear to be gun-shy at all before his first hit? [colts.com]
The Eagles were proven wise in their decision to keep Nick Foles rather than trade him to the Browns (or elsewhere) during the offseason. But now that Carson Wentz is back, what does that mean for Foles' future? Will he want to start again or will he just be happy playing the backup role in Philly? Well, if it's the former, there's still some time for Howie Roseman and Co. to deal the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
The NFL trade deadline isn't until Oct. 30.
Over the next six weeks, if Wentz returns to form, the Eagles might be more willing to listen to trade offers for Foles for a quarterback-desperate team. The Browns reportedly offered a second-round pick for Foles in the offseason. There aren't many job openings around the league at quarterback right, but if a contending team loses their starter — some obvious candidates for that include the Jaguars, Vikings, Packers, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs and Steelers —Foles' value would drive up.
This also would partly depend on the Eagles' confidence in Nate Sudfeld as the team's backup, though all indications point to him being a starter-level NFL talent who admittedly lacks the requisite experience. [nj.com]
The sky is not falling — at least it wasn't the last time I checked. But you wouldn't know that talking to Eagles fans following their team's Week 2 loss to the Bucs.
Circumstances obviously have changed, but the mindset in Philadelphia apparently has not.
The Eagles still need every Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown who can play wide receiver. Fans still have no problem going at a guy like Jalen Mills on social media less than eight months after he did his part to bring a championship to the city. Everybody and their mother will still weigh in on what Wentz should and shouldn’t do on a football field even after a team of doctors say he’s 100 percent.
Take a chill pill, folks. The offense needs a receiver, but a veteran like Jordan Matthews who knows the offense will do for a week or two until Alshon Jeffery returns. The defense could be better, but Schwartz’s unit has been almost solely responsible for wins in the past. Wentz has the green light of medical professionals, which is all that matters.
There’s scrutiny, and then there’s straight-up whining. The first few months of the Eagles’ title defense hasn’t gone precisely to plan, so some people have chosen the latter. [nbcsports.com]
That tune might change a little by Sunday evening, assuming Carson Wentz goes out and looks like 2017 MVP candidate Carson Wentz...
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