It was announced Monday afternoon that Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz will be making his first start since a tearing both his LCL and ACL in a game 9 months ago against the LA Rams. The injury occured on a 1st and Goal play late in the 3rd quarter where we saw the ever mobile Wentz, scramble to his right out of the pocket and dive head first for the goal line. He scored, but the play was called back. In retrospect if a holding call was the only shitty thing to happen to the Eagles on that play, the team and their die hard fans would have been thrilled. Instead the their franchise QB took a hit, sandwiched between two defenders, a hit that may have altered the course of history for one of the NFL’s loveable loser franchises, for better and for worse.
We all know what happened after that play, Wentz for all his credit and toughness stayed in the game and 3 plays later threw a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery on 4th and 1. But the damage was done and Wentz immediately left the game and was replaced by Nick Foles. From there the Eagles went on a historic run to a Super Bowl victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in one of the greatest games in NFL history, and Nick Foles earned his spot on the Mount Rushmore of Philadelphia sports legends. (Hopefully when they eventually erect his statue next to Rocky’s they will accurately portray the “Big” part of his famous nickname).
The Eagles prior to Wentz’s injury were already considered the best team in football last year. Boasting an 11-2 record going into that game. Carson Wentz was already being anointed as the league MVP. Through 13 & 1/2 games he had already thrown for 3,296 yds, 33 TD and just 7 INT. Many a Eagles fan will tell you that if Carson doesn’t get hurt that they still win the Super Bowl last year and they wouldn’t be wrong per say. It’s true that the Eagles were definitely the most talented overall team in the NFL last season. But as we have seen many times over the years in this league, the most talented team often does not win the Super Bowl. It’s often the team that rallies together at the right time and has to overcome adversity that makes them stronger as a unit. With the Wentz injury the Eagles now had that adversity to go along with the overall best team, and rallied around an unproven and often criticized Nick Foles. (See the dog masks below)
This leads us back to “the chosen one” as Eagles fans like to refer to him, Carson Wentz. It remains to be seen how he will bounce back from a possible career altering injury. Most expect that he will return to form, but you never know given the type of injury he had. In this day and age of modern medicine, returning from an ACL and or LCL injury seems like a mere formality. They go in, operate, fix you up and 9 months later your ready to go. This could certainly be the case for Carson Wentz, but let’s not forget the cautionary tale of a once promising young QB in Robert Griffin III. While its safe to say now that RG3 was clearly nowhere near as talented as Wentz, they do have similarities in the way that Wentz will utilize his mobility to roll out of the pocket and get first downs, but also put his body at risk. Many a time last year and in his rookie season we saw Wentz make big plays with his feet and dive headfirst and take hits to get first downs. I vividly remember my friends that are Eagles fans break into a nervous sweat every time he would do so. They would say, “God, I love how he makes plays, but he needs to stop doing that or he’s gonna get hurt!”, and “if we lose him, we’re fucked”. Well it turns out they were not fucked, but they were indeed right. He needs to learn to become that pure pocket passer which he has proven that he can be, and only use his legs like they were a fire extinguisher and he needs to “break the glass in case of emergency”.
Admittingly I’m a die hard Patriots fan, and as much as it pains me to write this, the NFL needs Carson Wentz to come back and be that same MVP caliber player. It’s good for the league overall. He represents the face of the next top tier quarterback class that will take over the NFL once the Bradys, Brees, and Rodgers of the world are wearing their respective gold jackets. And as much as I would love to see the Eagles collapse all over themselves this season, you can’t help but root for a guy like Wentz. He always says and does the right things. As much as it probably pained him to watch his team be led to an eventual Super Bowl victory by another QB, he was there to support and help Nick Foles every step of the way. Just like he was his senior year at North Dakota State when he missed 5 weeks with a broken bone in his wrist and supported redshirt freshman Easton Stick. The only difference that year was he eventually made it back to win another FCS national championship. Him not being able to lead his team to a Super Bowl has likely lit a fire in this competitive young man that burns brighter than his auburn/ginger red hair.
The bottom line is Wentz, for all his talent needs to play smart coming out the gate and Doug Pederson and the Eagles coaching staff need to closely monitor their young star. I’m not a fan of him coming back this early, and I think the Eagles should easily be 3-1 if he were to wait until week 5. But it is understandable when you get outplayed by a 35 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick (who is suddenly the swaggiest QB in the league) and when Big Dick Nick looks to being falling back to reality. The need becomes overly glaring for them to get Wentz back out there. If he can return to form, the Eagles might not need a “Philly Special” to become Super Bowl champs once again, and there could be many more celebrations and parades for their passionate and rabid fans to enjoy endless amounts of horse poop delicacy.