The mystery of who will start at quarterback on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams is over Nick Foles has taken the reps all week in practice as Carson Wentz rests with head coach Doug Pederson termed a "stress injury" in his back, an injury revealed on Tuesday through a series of tests. Wentz was downgraded to out on Saturday morning.
Wentz would only play, said Pederson on Friday, if there is 100 percent chance that his back injury, which does not require surgery and could take as long as three months to fully recover, will not get worse during the course of a football game. That, of course, is a very difficult bet to make. There is no question that Wentz, as competitive as he is, wants to play. He's a gamer. He loves football. He loves a challenge.
The Eagles are going to handle it the smart way here, keeping an eye on the short term – they are still in the NFC playoff picture, you know – and looking to the long term as well. Wentz is going to be the quarterback here for the next 10 years, but to do that he has to be healthy. The main priority here is making sure that Wentz is doing everything right medically. The football part of it follows.
And so, here we are only hours away from a huge game (8:20 p.m., NBC) against the 11-2 Rams who are going to have no pity for the Eagles and all the injuries this team has incurred this season (add offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, who has not played in a game this season, to the list of Injured Reserve players.).
"Maybe we're the only ones," defensive end Chris Long said, "but we think we're contenders. We're going out there to win a football game. That's our intention."
It's been a most unusual week in the days after the overtime loss at Dallas. Pederson said that tests on Tuesday revealed that Wentz has the stress fracture in his back. Wentz has since sought multiple opinions for his current condition and further courses of action while not taking part in practice all week. Foles, who started the first two games of the regular season, has been the starter in practice and will be ready, and sharp, on Sunday night. The Eagles have full faith in Foles, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. The importance of having a backup quarterback who can win cannot be understated here. Foles has earned every bit of confidence with this football team.
A more overarching story is Wentz and his back injury added to his torn ACL and LCL from 2017 and the fractured ribs he suffered in the preseason of his rookie year. Wentz works hard, he plays hard, and he lives for the game. The Eagles need Wentz to be on the field and know that he's going to be on the field week after week, year after year. That is the mission in the big picture.
In the foreseeable future, the Eagles are making sure that Foles is ready for action and that the football team has a plan in place to shock the world and win on Sunday night against one of the best teams in the NFL. At 6-7, the Eagles are right there in the NFC Wild Card playoff mix. This quarterback picture, as muddled as it appears to be, cannot become a distraction to the football team.
"We know how challenging it's going to be on Sunday night," tight end Zach Ertz said. "If it's Nick out there playing, we know what he can do and we're familiar with him. We'll have success whether it's Nick of Carson. I just know how tough it is for Carson right now. He wants to be out there as much as anybody."
If all of this quarterback information sounds uncertain, it is. The Eagles are continuing to collect data on Wentz, who is actively seeking multiple opinions. Pederson has worked with Foles all week in preparation to play against Los Angeles.
With the news swirling and the rampant speculation, the Eagles have to get down to business and shrug off the disappointment from the overtime loss in Dallas and play an A-level game to beat the formidable Rams. In a month of "must-win" games, this one ranks right at the top because, naturally, it is the one directly in front of the Eagles.
We now know for certain it's Foles who gets the start on Sunday night The Eagles now have to find some way to win their first game of the season they aren't "supposed" to win and reach the top of the ladder in the Wild Card race.