Everyone is watching Carson Wentz as his recovery from knee surgery moves along and we creep closer to September. The questions remain the same: Are you still hopeful to play Week 1 against Atlanta? Will you change the way you play the game? What is your relationship like with Nick Foles?
This is an all-day, everyday obsession with the fans and the media, and understandably so. Wentz is The Franchise, and he’s coming off a torn ACL and surgery and he’s declared that Week 1 is his goal and we’re all counting down the days (122 days until September 6!). The reality with these kinds of injuries, having seen so many players recovering from them over the years, is how the player progresses from 95 percent healthy to 100 percent healthy. That last 5-10 percent is what’s critical, and likely then, and only then, will Wentz and the Eagles’ medical team really have a sense of the exact timing of Wentz’s return to the playing field.
So we’re a ways away from truly knowing how ready Wentz will be for the Falcons on September 6. That won’t stop anyone from asking Wentz about his progress each time he makes a public appearance between now and then, however.
What’s really interesting, though, is the relationship Wentz and Foles have created since Foles signed as an unrestricted free agent last year to rejoin the Eagles. At that time, Wentz was coming off his rookie season and clearly the man at the quarterback position and the leader in the locker room. While that hasn’t changed, Foles’ stature clearly has. He replaced Wentz after the December 10 injury and led the Eagles to the win in Super Bowl LII. Foles has since been celebrated for his accomplishment, he’s been universally lauded as the ultimate team guy, and his story – riches to rags (and nearly retirement) and back to riches in the NFL environment – resonates with everyone.
The Eagles have an enviable quarterback situation with an MVP candidate as the starter (Wentz) and the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player (Foles) as the backup and it works. It works because both Wentz and Foles make it work with their team-first personalities and approaches to the profession. At a time when a veteran like Ben Roethlisberger is making headlines for his reaction to the Steelers using a third-round draft pick on quarterback Mason Rudolph, wondering how Rudolph “helps us win now,” the Eagles have one of the more unusual starter-backup scenarios any team could have and the harmony couldn’t be better.
"I think Nick and I, just from the outside world you'd think there could be some potential ruffled feathers and different things going on,” Wentz said on Monday during an appearance on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “But the way Nick and I have handled just our relationship, the basis of our relationship is we're friends first and foremost before we're teammates. So that's made things so much easier to just root each other on and just have complete confidence in each other. We both know kind of where we're at and what going forward is going to look like. So I'm really confident that there'll be no issues with that. I love Nick and we both understand kind of the nature of this business and the outset of this team and the future. So we're excited. And I'm excited he's still here."
Let’s then, go back to the idea that “everybody is watching.” That includes, first and foremost, the locker room. If you’re a player in the Eagles' locker room and you see the quarterbacks, both of whom who are so highly regarded and accomplished on the field, handle their business so professionally, what the impact? It’s fair to say that the relationship that Wentz and Foles have forged - with honesty, respect, and openness - sets the mood for the entire locker room.
A player new to the Eagles walks into the locker room and understands very quickly the environment he’s in, a tone set by the quarterbacks. It is a tone defined by hard work, unselfishness and brotherhood. It’s a winning tone, and as we all wonder how the team will replicate the Super Bowl chemistry of a season ago, look no further than Wentz and Foles and the way they go about their business and how that approach trickles down to the entire team and the entire organization.
Carson Wentz is working hard to get all the way back from his knee injury and his goal remains the opener against Atlanta. Until then, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld will take most of the practice reps. That’s the way it’s going to be. No controversy. No secret agendas. No selfishness. Just a team-first attitude that establishes the order of business for the Eagles on a daily basis. Yeah, everybody is watching, and they like what they see: The Eagles’ quarterback situation, as uncomfortable as it could be with such high-level starters atop the depth chart, works because they care for each other and they care about the team above all else.