The topic that has dominated the Eagles’ landscape for the last two seasons, the topic that has dominated talk radio, the topic that has dominated Twitter and Instagram, deli counters and daycare centers and everywhere in between in Philadelphia — the Carson Wentz vs. Nick Foles debate — is dead.
Take it out back and bury it behind the shed. Lay a rose down on its grave if you must, but the tired conversation over whether the Eagles should have kept Nick Foles or Carson Wentz no longer has any legs thanks to the performance of Wentz over the final month of the 2019 season.
Frankly, it was a stupid debate to begin with, championed by people who forgot about Wentz’ 2017 MVP-level season. It offered up a false choice: that Carson was awesome and Foles sucked or Foles was clutch and Carson wasn’t.
What Wentz did over the final month of this season with the players he had at his disposal was nothing short of miraculous and was perhaps more impressive than anything he did during ‘17. It was also proof that, when he is at his best, there aren’t more than three or four quarterbacks in the league who are better than Carson.
By now, you don’t need to be told how impressive this was.
You don’t need to be told that he was without his top three wide receivers for the final month of the season and, when they were in there, they actively hurt him on many occasions. You don’t need to be told that, in the second half of Sunday’s 34-17 win over the Giants, that he was down to one healthy running back, who spent most of the season on the practice squad. You don’t need to be told that he didn’t have his most trusted target, the tight end who has caught more passes at this stage of his career than any other tight end in NFL history. You don’t need to be told that he played without two of his most trusted offensive linemen, either.
You don’t need to be told that, despite all the injuries, he became the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards without a single wide receiver who compiled at least 500 yards receiving.
Eagles Wide Receiver Production
|Greg Ward Jr.||28||254||1|
You don’t need to be told that Wentz joined Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers (all future Hall of Famers, by the way), as the only QBs with three straight seasons of 20 or more touchdowns and 10 or fewer interceptions. You don’t need to be told that he’s the only QB in history to throw 20 or more TDs and seven or fewer interceptions in three straight seasons. And you don’t need to be told that Wentz went 145-for-219 for 1,509 yards, 10 TDs and one INT with a passer rating of 92.29 in the month of December.
Oh, and not for nothin’, you also don’t need to be told he made it through the season completely healthy.
He led an undermanned team to four straight must-win victories against divisional opponents, with huge fourth quarter/OT drives to win those games. Yes, New York and Washington were not exactly robust opponents, but with a stable of mere practice squad promotions at his disposal, it’s conceivable the Eagles could have lost any of those games.
In a perverse way, the injuries to the offense was actually good for Carson, specifically when it comes to rehabilitating his image with the segment of the fanbase that had soured on him. It also likely rehabilitated his status in the locker room among players, if there were any (Orlando Scandrick suggested there were), who were hoping Nick Foles was going to “walk back through that door.” Sure, if Wentz had been able to use his main weapons all season long, perhaps the Eagles would have finished 12-4 or 13-3 and competed for a first-round bye in the postseason, but it’s also almost certain you’d have his critics crying about how he was only succeeding because of the talent around him.
Now? There is nothing left for the anti-Wentzers to hang their hats on. There is no argument left.
Whatever happens from this point on, some very important things have been discovered.
First, Doug Pederson is a genius. He has gone 11-1 in his last 12 must-win games over the past three seasons, which includes three postseason wins in the Super Bowl season, going a combined 4-1 in the last three regular season games and two postseason games of last year and 4-0 to finish up the ‘19 schedule, all done with injury-marred rosters.
In the previous two seasons he did it with Foles. This year he did it with Wentz. Perhaps more of the credit for ‘17 and ‘18 should have been given to Wentz and not Foles, but that’s all water under the bridge.
Second, Wentz proved the Eagles’ investment in him was the right call. There can be no one inside the Eagles organization or among the fanbase who is still pining for Foles. Wentz has answered all his critics, done everything that was demanded of him, and now he actually gets to play in a postseason game for the first time in his career.
None of this should be a black mark on Foles, by the way, who performed miracles himself while he was here and deserves to be remembered as a legend in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, up until this last month, that legendary status came at the expense of Wentz. But Carson has done enough to emerge from Nick’s shadow and has proven to everyone that he was the right choice with which to hitch their wagon for the future.
Perhaps now we can appreciate Foles’ legacy without knocking Wentz down at the same time and, while we’re at it, entomb the Wentz vs. Foles debate forever.