All we know, officially at this point, is that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz missed practice on Wednesday with what head coach Doug Pederson described as “a little bit of back soreness, a little tightness.” That’s the official word and despite the reports circulating in the media, we’re sticking with the official word until further notice.
The Eagles practiced on Wednesday with Nick Foles at the helm and, officially, didn’t commit to Foles starting on Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles. At this point, everything is to be determined. If it’s Foles on Sunday, you know, the Eagles have been down this road before. It was Foles who replaced Wentz for the final three games of the 2017 regular season to start a ride that didn’t end until the Parade of Champions concluded at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on February 8.
“The timing is a little different. Some guys see the game differently,” tight end Zach Ertz said when asked about what changes when a quarterback substitution is made. “Carson and I have played together for so long that we see the game extremely similarly. He can always trust me to get open. He understands how I’m going to run routes and you’ve just got to replicate that with the next guy. A lot of talking (is done) this time of the year. You’re not getting a lot of extra reps because your body really can’t handle that much extra work this time of the year. There’s a lot of communication going on in between (practice) periods, in between reps. You see, ‘What do I need to do better?’ A lot of that sort of thing.
“We’re just trying to get on the same page. The good news is that Nick is not new here. Everyone has played with him that’s on this team now besides probably Golden (Tate) and Dallas (Goedert). We had a lot of reps with him in Training Camp, Dallas did and so we have a lot of confidence in Nick. The game plan may change a little bit if he’s out there but not too much because we’re confident in his abilities.”
What’s next? We wait, and we hope that further testing on Wentz’s back reveals good news and that, in the meantime, Foles prepares himself for action in yet another “playoff” game for the Eagles on Sunday night against an 11-2 Los Angeles Rams team that is on the way to the playoffs.
You feel for Wentz, who has put so much effort into making himself right after suffering that serious knee injury at the Rams on December 10, 2017. The sight of him walking off the field after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, towel draped over his head, remains. You never want to see The Franchise limping off. Of course, it turned out to be an amazing story as Foles finished the win in Los Angeles and then defeated the Giants and the Raiders to secure the No. 1 seed in the postseason. From there, Foles was brilliant on his way to earning Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl LII.
Speculation at this point helps nobody. What the Eagles are doing behind the scenes is collecting facts, making sure that they put Wentz on a program that gets his back right, and then they’ll make the determination on his status for Sunday and beyond. They retained Foles for moments like this, knowing that Foles can be counted on to run the offense effectively if he plays on Sunday night.
Other than that, all we can do is wait and see what the Eagles find out about Wentz and his back and how he responds to treatment on Wednesday and what his immediate future holds. It doesn’t make sense to take chances here, not with a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player at the ready if needed on national television. Wentz is The Franchise and the Eagles expect him to be the starting quarterback for the next decade.
But will he be the quarterback on Sunday against the Rams? That, officially, we do not yet know. And so, from Inside the NovaCare Complex, there are no leaps to a final conclusion, only concern that Wentz missed Wednesday’s practice with a back injury that has previously landed him on the weekly injury report but that has not kept him from any game action in 2018.