Philadelphia Eagles training camp is almost here. Players report to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, July 24. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles roster. We begin today by taking a look at the quarterback position.
Wentz isn’t facing a lot of pressure in the sense that he’s the Eagles’ undisputed long-term answer at quarterback. Back in June, Wentz and the Eagles agreed on a $128 million deal that ties him to Philly through the 2024 season.
Wentz is facing a ton of pressure when it comes to living up to expectations. And rightfully so. With Nick Foles gone, it’s Wentz’s performance that’ll make or break the Eagles as they try to compete for another Super Bowl title.
You might be shocked to read this but quarterbacks are often polarizing players. Wentz is certainly no exception.
Wentz’s doubters will say that the Eagles made a mistake in keeping him over Foles. They’ll argue he’s not clutch. They’ll say he’s too injury prone. They’ll say 2017 was his only good season out of the three that he’s played. They’ll bring up the report about him being a bad teammate.
Wentz’s supporters will remind you that he nearly won NFL MVP in 2017. They’ll point to his undeniable talent and mental acumen. They’ll say that he did prove he was capable of playing a full 16 game season back in 2017.
There’s some merit to both sides of the argument. As someone who is optimistic about Wentz’s outlook, though, I obviously lean towards one side.
I can’t help but feel like some are sleeping on Wentz way too much heading into 2019. There’s plenty of reason to think Wentz could be a very good quarterback this year.
First of all, Wentz is actually healthy now. He’s not coming off an ACL injury like he was at this time last year. Wentz was full go during spring drills and he’s slated to fully participate in training camp as well. We all saw how dominant Wentz was the last time he had a full offseason to prepare back in 2017.
Health isn’t the only factor that goes into a Wentz resurgence. One must also consider his improved supporting cast. Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders ... that’s no shortage of quality skill players to work with. Oh, and let’s not forget an offensive line that has the potential to once again be one of the better blocking units in the league.
Another thing I’ve previously mentioned in Foles vs. Wentz debates is the maturity factor. I don’t think people accounted enough for how much Foles developed after first being traded by Philly and then nearly retiring. Foles hit rock bottom in his career before going back up. I think Wentz could be at that point now where the injuries and inconsistency and questions about his leadership could have him reflecting on what he needs to improve. We’ve already seen some progress in this regard with Wentz changing his offseason diet and workout structure. I’d also guess he’s more conscious about how he’s perceived in the locker room following the scathing PhillyVoice report from back in January.
Maybe Wentz doesn’t bounce back from adversity. Maybe he’s not as good as the optimists think he is. Maybe he can’t stay healthy.
It’s ultimately up to Wentz to silence his doubters and lead the Eagles to glory. The pressure is on and it’ll be fascinating to see how he responds. A strong summer could be a nice foundation for the upcoming campaign.
Ready or not, Sudfeld is replacing Foles as Wentz’s primary backup in 2019. The man we call “STUDFELD” has some pretty big pants to fill.
So, is Sudfeld actually capable of being a quality No. 2 quarterback?
There’s some reason for optimism. Sudfeld has been in Philadelphia’s system since September 2017; he knows the offense by now. He’s flashed legitimate NFL talent (arm strength, accuracy, mobility) in limited game action.
There’s also reason to be skeptical. Sudfeld, a sixth-round pick back in 2016, is largely unproven. He’s logged just 25 regular season pass attempts. Sudfeld has been inconsistent during practices and games.
Inconsistency isn’t the worst quality, though. In a perfect world, the Eagles would have a player capable of being a full-time starter as their backup. The next best realistic thing is having a No. 2 quarterback who’s capable of getting hot, even if it means he’s also prone to going cold. In fewer words: high variance.
Based on my experience watching him at the NFL level, I believe Sudfeld could be a hot or cold quarterback. I don’t think he’s good enough to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl title if Wentz has to miss a significant amount of time. I do have a reasonable level of confidence in Sudfeld helping the Eagles go 1-1 in a two game stretch (just for example), not unlike old friend Chase Daniel did with the Bears in 2018. The realistic hope for Sudfeld — assuming he has to play (God forbid) — is that he can keep the Eagles’ season on life support until Wentz returns.
2019 is potentially a big season for Sudfeld. He’s set to be a free agent in March 2020. Again, the Eagles will hope that he doesn’t have to see a meaningful snap. If he does get a chance to play, though, Sudfeld can try to make his case to become a starter some place outside of Philadelphia.
Thorson was more down than up during spring drills. Such is not the end of the world for the team’s 2019 fifth-round pick. Rookie quarterbacks obviously take time to learn the system and develop. Of course, it’s also possible Thorson is just bad. His college profile isn’t inspiring, he has an injury history, and he’s on the older side for a rookie (turns 24 this season - for perspective, Jared Goff is 24). Thorson has much to prove at the NFL level.
The Eagles signed Kessler in mid-May. He was the fourth string quarterback during OTAs/minicamp. Kessler’s lack of arm strength stood out in a bad way. There was some thought he might challenge Sudfeld and/or Thorson for a roster spot but I don’t see it.
How will it play out?
Wentz is the starter. Sudfeld is Wentz’s backup. Thorson is probably going to make the roster as a developmental guy; he could potentally be Wentz’s backup as soon as the 2020 season if/when Sudfeld leaves in free agency. Kessler is essentially a camp arm and will be waived prior to final cuts.
Who could be a surprise cut?
The Eagles cutting Thorson seems improbable but not impossible. If Thorson really stinks up the joint and shows zero promise this summer, maybe the Eagles risk putting him on the practice squad. I don’t think the Eagles will have much use for Thorson in 2019 anyway. The team might sign a veteran to be Sudfeld’s backup if Wentz suffers a long-term injury, leapfrogging Thorson in the process.
But with the Eagles spending a fifth-round pick on Thorson, one would think he’ll ultimately end up sticking on the 53-man roster. He just needs to show he’s worth developing.
On a scale of 1-5, what’s your confidence level in the Eagles’ quarterback position? (5 being the most.)
This poll is closed