Quarterback Carson Wentz answered questions from the media on Monday for the first time since the Eagles' loss to the Dallas Cowboys on December 9.
Wentz missed the last three games of the regular season and both postseason games with a stress fracture in his back that was discovered the following week. He once again had to watch on the sideline as Nick Foles led the Eagles in the playoffs.
At locker clean-out following the Eagles' 20-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round, Wentz was able to shed a bit of light on the injury that sidelined the starter for the remainder of the season.
"We decided as we discovered exactly what it was, talking to my doctors, doing my due diligence, seeking other opinions, that it wasn't my best idea to play with the risks involved," Wentz said. "So, I wanted to be out there, no doubt, but with the risks involved and the way everything was hindering, it was not worth it."
Wentz said the evaluation of the injury was an ongoing process that kept him off of the Injured Reserve list as he kept himself available to return if needed. It was hard for Wentz to pinpoint exactly when the injury first occurred, but it was something that developed over time.
In the end, the decision to sit out was made due to the risks that would have come with playing with the injury and not from the status of the team at the time. Wentz said he was able to battle the pain and he never wanted to use the injury as an excuse for poor play. But the risks were too great.
So, it became time to provide support for Nick Foles in the quarterback room. Wentz was proud to continue the productive next-man-up culture of the Eagles' locker room, but it definitely wasn't easy.
"It's super frustrating," Wentz said. "You want to play postseason football, I still have zero games of postseason football under my belt, and I realized I had a lot to prove in that regard. But I'm confident that I will have a chance to do that.
"But yes, without a doubt, the human side is frustrating. You want to be out there with your guys, you want to help the team win and to be on the sideline for two straight years, it's tough."
At the same time, Wentz had another opportunity to sit back and learn from those around him, as he did last year following his knee injury. Wentz said that he, Foles, and third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld all put their egos aside in the quarterback room and helped each other improve while preparing for the game each week. Without that selflessness, it could have been a tough situation.
Foles credited Wentz when he spoke to the media Monday for being a great resource on the sideline and in gameplanning during the final weeks of the season. Wentz said he was just doing what Foles did for him all year while he started.
"I learned a lot," Wentz said. "I learned a lot both from watching Nick play and the type of player he was and just the guys playing, and just seeing the postseason success last year and now this year, you take a lot of that and kind of store it away and use it as motivation a little, but you definitely learn from taking a step back."
With Nick Foles set to become a free agent this offseason, Wentz said he doesn't know what the future will hold but he trusts whatever decision the organization makes.
Wentz also stressed that he doesn't believe he came back too soon from the knee injury that ended his campaign short last season. He said he ready prior to his Week 3 debut and played it cautiously with the team doctors.
This additional injury has led some to believe that Wentz is injury-prone and that it could be an issue going forward. Wentz is ready to prove them wrong.
"I realize that's other people's opinions on things," Wentz said. "I, first and foremost, am looking forward to putting that to rest in the next couple years. But at the end of the day, you play this game, you can't control injuries, things happen, so I'm going to do everything I can to avoid those and my hope and goal is to put those doubts to rest."
Going into next season, Wentz said he expects to "play the same game" as last season ahead of spring and summer practices without a clear timetable for recovery. His goal is to get back to his MVP form of the 2017 season that was hard to achieve this year adjusting to a knee brace, little time to rest, and limited mobility.
Luckily, Wentz will now have a full offseason to focus on resting, getting his body right, and recovering from what should be a less serious injury. There is no surgery required for Wentz and he aims to be a part of all upcoming practices and camps before the 2019 regular season kicks off on September.
"It'll be huge," Wentz said. "More than anything, assuming rehab and everything goes well, hopefully come April, once we get rolling again, I can be back out there whereas that wasn't necessarily wasn't the case last year. I think going through a whole offseason program with everybody and being out there, I think that will be really big for me."
Take a look at the best photos from the locker room clean-out day after the loss in the Divisional Round.