INDIANAPOLIS - The importance of the quarterback position was more than evident in the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII.
Carson Wentz played at an MVP level to help the Eagles get in position to earn home-field position in the NFC playoffs. Once Wentz went down, Nick Foles came off the bench and was nearly perfect in the postseason. He completed 72.6 percent of his attempts for 971 yards for six touchdowns and a 115.7 rating in the three games, earning Super Bowl MVP honors along the way.
Defending their Super Bowl title will be a challenge, but Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson can at least know they have a strong quarterback room heading into 2018. When Doug Pederson was named head coach in 2016, he and Howie Roseman wanted to develop a program that would stock the quarterback room with three players who are capable of starting in the NFL. The Eagles like where they are at with Wentz, Foles, and Nate Sudfeld.
"As we sit here, we have a tremendous amount of confidence in our franchise quarterback in Carson, a tremendous amount of confidence in Nick Foles as a Super Bowl MVP, and we have tremendous faith in our third quarterback," Roseman said. "When you put your head on the pillow at night, that gives you some relaxation."
Wentz continues to rehab from the knee injury that robbed him of the end of the 2017 campaign. There is no public timetable for his return, but Roseman and the Eagles' medical staff have a "sense" of when every player who finished the season on Injured Reserve will be back on the field.
"There's no harder worker, no more determined person than Carson Wentz," Roseman said. "We're just going to make sure that we take care of him and do the right things by him."
Wentz's athleticism helped him escape from pressure and bail the Eagles out of numerous third-and-long situations. The Eagles converted nearly 31 percent such opportunities in 2017, good for third best in the NFL. Pederson wants Wentz to utilize that aspect of his game, but at the same time recognize the need to be available to help the team on the field.
"It's a fine line. We talked about this in the past about his aggressiveness and I don't want to take that away from him. He understands and we'll have conversations about longevity obviously in this league," the head coach said.
The Eagles are encouraged enough by Wentz's long-term outlook that Roseman is already planning for how to structure the team's salary cap once the quarterback earns a second contract.
"Our task is to study the successful teams and quarterbacks and to look at the resource allocation and the flip side of that is from a draft-pick perspective from the original trade (to Cleveland to acquire Wentz) and some of the moves we've made, we haven't had a lot of draft picks," Roseman said. "So going forward, we have to make sure we have the resources in place where we have more draft picks, more guys who are making rookie-level salaries to balance the higher-level salaries. It's a good problem. We have a lot of guys on our roster who are making real money. We want to keep those guys. The best way to do that is to try to balance that with some young salaries."
With Wentz sidelined this spring, Pederson said that it will be a critical time for Sudfeld, who was acquired by the Eagles after Washington released him following Training Camp. Sudfeld started the season on the practice squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster when another team wanted to sign him. Once Wentz was injured, Sudfeld became the backup and made his NFL debut in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys. He completed 19 of 23 (82.6 percent) pass attempts for 134 yards and a 90.9 passer rating.
"Nate Sudfeld's got a tremendous skill set, not only to be a potential number two in this league but we think he's got upside to develop into a starter," Roseman said. "Incredibly smart, athletic. Good frame. Can make all of the throws. All you have to do is ask some of our defensive players of him on the scout team and how he did. We're excited about him, even more excited to see him with a full offseason and with our coaching staff in our offseason program and then through Training Camp."
Foles provides excellent insurance as the primary backup to Wentz, but could his phenomenal performance in the postseason entice another team to try and acquire the veteran?
"We're trying to keep as many good players as possible and you're talking about a Super Bowl MVP," Roseman said. "He's been unbelievably successful for us. He's got great character, great leadership. That room is exactly what we're looking for. We have a franchise quarterback. We have a Super Bowl MVP, and we have a young quarterback that we're excited about as well. That's kind of how we're looking at it as we get started in the offseason."
There is a lot of work to be done to improve the roster for the 2018 season, but at the very least the Eagles are in an enviable situation when it comes to the quarterback position.