It’s been widely reported that the Philadelphia Eagles will start Nick Foles — not Carson Wentz — at quarterback when the reigning Super Bowl champions open the 2018 NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons this week. Wentz, as we know, is still making his way back from the ACL/LCL injury he suffered last December.
So, if Wentz won’t be ready to play Week 1, when WILL he be back?
With the Thursday opener, that gives Wentz 10 days before the Week 2 game, but it seems doubtful that he will start that either. To me, he is still multiple weeks away.
I understand there was optimism since he was not placed on PUP at the start of training camp and he looked good in practice. However, if he were on PUP, he would not be able to practice with the team, and that was probably worth it for him to do as part of his rehab.
And Wentz’s superior athleticism should not fool you. The fact he can throw the ball 65 yards is a testament to his arm strength, and how well he moves is a testament to his mobility. But neither indicates he is anywhere near 100 percent.
Also, don’t be fooled that he is on the 53-man roster. A player of his caliber is worth carrying on the roster just so he can practice and be part of the team – with the possibility he will return in the coming weeks.
Things can change. Wentz can turn the corner more quickly, or there can be more pressure on the Eagles to start him if Foles struggles as he has in the preseason. No one knows at this point.
My best guess is it will be at least a few weeks. Depending on how he looks in practice, his exam and the internal Eagles discussions, that could change.
But don’t be surprised if this becomes like “Luck Watch 2017.” (In no way am I implying Wentz will eventually go on IR, simply that there may be some week-to-week hype about it).
At this point, medically, he is more likely to start Week 7 (after a Thursday night game in Week 6) or Week 10 (after a bye in Week 9) than he is to start Week 2.
If the team’s internal plan is truly to use Wentz the same way as before injury, as offensive coordinator Mike Groh said recently, that would necessitate waiting until at least the second half of the season.
Again, Chao does couch his “multiple weeks away” statement with the caveat that Wentz could progress more quickly than anticipated. But this overall outlook certainly isn’t incredibly optimistic about Wentz real soon.
It’s true that the Eagles should not want to rush Wentz back on the field, especially if it’s going to significantly jeopardize his long-term health. But his absence can’t just be discounted because the Eagles have Nick Foles.
The Super Bowl MVP has proved he can play very well, yes, but one would be remiss to dismiss his high variance nature. Foles has 18 starts with a passer rating over 100. He has 16 starts with a passer rating below 80. Only eight of his starts have fallen in-between that range. It’s one thing to count on Foles to get the team through a small set of game(s). It’s another thing to play him over an extended period of time and expect him to always be great.
Hopefully Wentz continues to progress well to the point where he can safely return to the field. The reality is the Eagles’ ceiling is at its’ highest when he’s quarterbacking the team.
In the meantime, let’s also hope Good Foles continues to be the version who shows up on game day.