The last two NFL offseasons carried some level of frustration for Carson Wentz.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback appeared visibly annoyed at times — and understandably so — as he was constantly peppered by questions about his medical status throughout OTA and training camp press conferences. Such queries were reasonable, though, since Wentz failed to finish the 2017 season due to an ACL injury and the 2018 season due to a back injury. Still, it was hard to blame him for being exhausted by such relentless discussion.
It looked like Wentz had finally found relief in the form of shaking doubts about his durability by making his 17th start against the Seattle Seahawks in January. And then Jadeveon Clowney put a damper on Wentz’s progress by delivering a season-ending, concussion-inducing “cheap shot” to the back of his head.
That Wentz failed to finish his third consecutive season wasn’t immediately one of the biggest concerns to emerge from Philly’s 2019 campaign. Most weren’t clamoring for the team to move on from him or to heavily invest in a backup. There was no real panic when the Eagles merely re-signed the largely unproven Nate Sudfeld to be their No. 2 behind Wentz.
The conversation changed, however, when the Eagles selected Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at No. 53 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Wentz’s injury history was suddenly dragged back into the spotlight ... and not just by fans.
Caplan, just now on WIP: "They can deny it but I know its a fact, Carson Wentz's injury history was a part" of the reason the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts.— Patrick (@EaglesPMC) April 30, 2020
One can only imagine how this development could’ve been frustrating for Wentz, who did his best to stay healthy last year and was only removed from a game when a player illegally hit him.
But while some were quick to use Wentz’s medical track record as means to justify the Hurts pick, others ardently pushed back. It’s around that time I stumbled across some interesting tweets from Dr. Edwin Porras, who contributes to FantasyPoints.com:
Players whose injury risk is minimal:— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) April 28, 2020
The only argument against Wentz is anecdotal AKA no data to back it.— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) April 28, 2020
Yes and no. The point I'm trying to make is that Wentz has been crazy unlucky and has fallen into the minority statistically. Physiologically, the only recurrence you watch for is the back. But he played all fo 2019 w/o back issues already. His luck can only get better from here.— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) May 3, 2020
If you've used the phrase be honest: was the majority of your reasoning based primarily on history or a narrative?— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) May 5, 2020
Usually non-healthcare personnel use the phrase. I’ve never encountered a doc/ATC say “injury prone”
They know it’s more complicated than a narrative/history.
Football is violent- but some injuries are random— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) May 5, 2020
Vertebral fracture/concussion/ACL=random (Wentz)
Hamstring/ACL/hamstring/groin=established pattern (Fuller)
*Some non-random recurring examples:
"low" ankle sprain
Some players who shown statistical and/or clinical patterns of recurring injuries:— Dr. Edwin Porras (@FBInjuryDoc) May 5, 2020
Intrigued by what Dr. Porras had to say, I invited him on BGN Radio to talk about Wentz and some other Eagles topics. I highly recommend you listen to our full conversation — [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN] — for full context but keep reading for some highlights.
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CARSON WENTZ’S “OVERBLOWN” INJURY HISTORY
PORRAS: “The thing about Carson Wentz in particular is, you nailed it, he had just finished a season where he was injury free. And the specific injuries that he’s had, even if you want to classify them as … put them into two buckets. What was the chance that they were going to happen in the first place? And what are the chances they will happen again or decrease his performance? And they’re all really low.
You can start with, from a general standpoint, in that same study I just mentioned, of like 4,000 something injuries, quarterbacks have a 1 in 12 chance of being injured compared to … let’s see here … linebackers, 21 in 100. Running backs, 21 in 100. Defensive backs, 23. Wide receivers, 33. So, you’re looking at half of what these skill positions do. So the chances of quarterbacks being injured in general in the modern era is ridiculously low.
Let’s start with the most significant one, his ACL tear. 72% of ACL tears are non-contact in nature. And essentially what you need to know about what that means and why that matters, is that because generally when you tear an ACL in a non-contact manner, there’s something funky going in — that’s the medical term that we learned in school, “funky” — there’s something going on with your hip rotation, the strength in your hamstring, the strength in your quads. There’s something going on there. And that’s not just what happened with Wentz. He took on a defender. I remember watching when he did that and I said ‘Oh my god, that was a brutal hit that he took at the goal line, to dive at the goal line.’ And that’s just not going to happen to him again. Obviously, it’s a violent game. But I’m relatively certain he probably learned his lesson after that. The Eagles are a smart organization, they probably pulled him into the office and said ‘Hey, let’s watch this game clip again. Okay, let’s not do that again.’ The chances of him re-doing that are so low. […] The chances that he re-tears his ACL are extremely low.
This from a different study. They looked at every single injury from 1980 until 2018. And what they saw in ACLs, and this is, quote: ‘An ACL had a significant negative financial impact on future earnings and was also associated with diminished performance following return to play at all NFL positions except quarterbacks.’ So, this ACL injury, according to the literature — this isn’t my opinion — isn’t going to affect him long term. And the rest of the injuries that he’s had are sort of the same thing. The wrist injury, research shows it’s not going to impact him in the long term. The back injury, he was 25 I think. The peak bone density — and this is a little more conjecture, a little more theory — but he had those two fractures early in his life. And he was like 23 and 25. His bone density is going to peak now he’s 27. Even though I’m not saying it won’t happen again, that vertebral fracture he had is super uncommon. And now that he’s stronger, he’s older, his bones are a lot more dense, I don’t think it’ll happen again, is what I’m saying.”
BLG: Would you say it’s fair to say that some of the conversation about him being injury prone is overblown?
PORRAS: “So overblown. I think it’s so overblown. And I understand, though, to a certain extent. Like, when the average person looks at a history and they say, ‘Man, that person has had a lot of injuries. And they’ve missed a lot of time.’ Yeah, they have, and that’s not wrong. At the same time, you have to look at what the data says, what the science says. You have to sort of clinically reason through everything — like the cheap shot, like you said, from Clowney … that’s just a cheap shot, let’s call it what it is. And that shouldn’t happen again. And like I said, football is an extremely violent sport. But none of the injuries that Wentz has had are going to be disabling to him in the future. And there’s very, very little reason that statistically they should happen again.”
WHEN AN INJURY HISTORY ISN’T OVERBLOWN
PORRAS: An injury history becomes concerning when you see a pattern that A) statistically recurs, and, B) from an anatomical, physiological level, makes sense. So, an example is a concussion and a clavicle fracture and a ruptured spleen and a torn ACL … those are all just out of the blue, random injuries. The ruptured spleen, ACL, and clavicle fracture, that’s like Keenan Allen at the beginning of his career. And people labeled him as injury prone, and he’s been fine since then. That’s a totally random set of injuries. When you look at a player … like, Sidney Jones is sort of an example [of what you’re asking about.] He’s got connective tissue he’s been dealing with. I don’t even want to call them muscular issues. The Achilles tendon is a massive tendon that runs underneath from the calf. And the job of the tendon is to pull on the bone. And that takes a lot of tensile strength and you could technically label that as a muscular strain. And then, like you were saying, he had those hamstring strains. So that’s a pattern where you’re seeing … okay, is there something in his muscles? Is there some sort of dysfunction, muscle imbalance? What’s going on with that that he’s just having these recurring issues?
ALSHON JEFFERY’S OUTLOOK NOT ENCOURAGING
PORRAS: And that’s the thing about Alshon Jeffery, because I like him as a player. So it’s really to give this type of analysis. So hopefully this will show my impartiality to Eagles players as I’m not very, very optimistic on Alshon Jeffery. And that’s just because of this recent study that came out on NFL players and they had a Lisfranc injury [update]. So, the average return for these players after the Lisfranc injury is about 10 months. So, give or take a couple of months there. It can between anywhere between 8 and 11 or 12 months. He’s 30 years old, so the likelihood of him coming back before that 9 or 10 month mark is pretty low, generally speaking. And so that’s what you’re looking at. The chances of him coming back and not being on the PUP are really, really low. Even when he does come back, unfortunately, this study also found that in the first season back, these offensive players that come back from the Lisfranc injury, they have a 21% drop off in performance. And they measured performance by receptions, touchdowns, and yards. So, that’s what you’re looking at. And you’re also looking at, if you want to think of another example, Hollywood Brown, Marquise Brown, for the Ravens. He had a Lisfranc injury and he didn’t have the hardware taken out of all 2019. And we saw him on the injury report, I think it was like more than half of the season he was on there with an ankle or a foot. So, to use fantasy terms, that’s sort of like the floor on Alshon Jeffery. He’s in and out of the lineup, he’s on and off the injury report, he makes a big play now and then. But overall you look at the numbers of the end of the season and he’s average or below average. And given his age, that doesn’t really help him.
Dr. Porras and I also discussed DeSean Jackson’s outlook coming off core muscle surgery, the potential impact of Eagles’ new medical staff hires, his general expectations for the Birds in 2020, and more.
So, check it out! I think you’ll find it worth your time.