It may even be a question the Eagles’ coaching staff has yet to find an answer to, but because Carson Wentz has yet to be placed on IR, it will persist.
As an exercise, we here at BGN had a discussion to give our thoughts on the situation and whether or not Wentz should be reinserted if he’s healthy enough to go and the Eagles keep winning.
Alexis Chassen (@LovelyBuckeye)
Benching Nick Foles for Carson Wentz would be a very tricky situation, especially because it’d be more than a little questionable to pull the hot hand and someone the team has really rallied around. If everything that the coaches and players say about egos not existing in the locker room, you’d hope that it wouldn’t cause tension, but that possibility is always there.
Still, I think if the Eagles are steadfast in supporting Carson Wentz as the future of the franchise, they need to give him the team back if he’s ready. Wentz has already had to sit back due to injury and miss competing in the franchise’s first Super Bowl win, and the constant questions about whether Foles should be the main guy moving forward are bound to creep into someone’s psyche. Plus, getting a third year quarterback some playoff experience can only help down the road. The decision would also depend on when they knew Carson would be ready to go, and obviously a full week of practice would be needed to get him back into a rhythm with his offense, but I’d bet he’s been actively involved in all the walk-through’s since his injury and has been taking mental reps like crazy.
Dave Mangels (@Southern_Philly) and Lee Sifford (@LeeSifford)
Dave: The only way this should be a ”dilemma” (oh no, what QB should we start in the Super Bowl, our franchise, MVP-caliber guy or the reigning Super Bowl MVP?) is if the Eagles were to make the Super Bowl. Wentz hasn’t practiced, so even if the Eagles beat the Saints and Wentz returns to practice, starting the NFC Championship Game should not even be a consideration. When he returned from injury earlier this year the process from out to start was immediate, and he looked like a guy who, wait for it…. hadn’t practiced in a while. So the only way I see this being a real issue (as opposed to a talk radio issue) is that the Eagles win on Sunday, Wentz returns to practice in some capacity the week of the NFCCG, the Eagles then win that game, and then Wentz is fully cleared and practicing during the two weeks before the Super Bowl. Otherwise I don’t think it would be fair to the rest of the team or to Wentz to rush him. That he has a back injury only magnifies the need to make sure he’s 100%.
Lee: Sorry, Dave, but I tend to disagree. If Carson is healthy, cleared to play and gets a practice in, I believe he needs to play. This Nick Foles magic has been fun to watch but we all know it isn’t going to last forever. Had Parkey made the game winning field goal, all we’d be talking about this week is how ugly the two interceptions were by Foles. Foles has been playing well, sure, but he is far from the only reason the team has turned around. The defense has been ferocious the last few weeks. The offense is clicking again and the addition of a healthy Carson could take this team from good to repeat Super Bowl champions.
Dave: Carson is the better player, no doubt. But he’s not going from not practicing to 100 percent overnight. So at what point is X percent Carson Wentz better than 100 percent Nick Foles? And how will you know that Wentz is there with only a practice?
Lee: First and foremost you have to trust Carson. If the doctors clear him and he feels right, I believe you need to pull the trigger. It’s hard to put a precise percentage on this, but if Carson can throw accurately without pain, I would have a hard time letting him sit and watch Foles. As Ben’s article pointed out the other day, much of Foles’ success can be attributed to conservative game planning and an improved defense. Add an 80 percent Wentz into the same equation and the team’s ceiling rises.
Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak)
First reason (the big one): You’re going to be able to realistically and reasonably, at any time in these next three-to-four weeks, claim that Carson Wentz is still potentially gimpy and not worth playing. For goodness’ sake, you missed the fracture in the first place — who knows what you could be risking by hustling him back out. He wasn’t 100 percent earlier this year; there’s no reason to go through that kerfuffle again.
Second reason (the bigger one): this locker room would turn on you, especially if you lose. They were as much of this fight as Foles/Wentz were, crawling their way back into the playoffs and now winning these last two/three playoff games. They believe in themselves, and to make a quarterback shift for what would, no matter how you sold it, look like you were just protecting Wentz from having further hurt feelings, could potentially shake the locker room and make your offseason decision to keep Wentz all the trickier.
Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin)
On a personal level, I like the idea of at least considering the activation and/or starting of Carson Wentz if he’s cleared to play. It just seems odd to imagine him fully healthy, or at least deemed so, and potentially in uniform, yet doing little more than watching his backup pursue another Super Bowl — assuming, of course, the team remains in the running beyond the Divisional Round. Wentz is a phenomenal talent and an even more phenomenal guy to root for, so I couldn’t entirely rule out giving him a shot at playoff experience that he at least partially deserves.
All of that said, from a realistic and team standpoint, it’s very, very hard to find a scenario where it makes sense to replace Nick Foles at this point in the season. Even if Wentz is healthy and theoretically gives you a higher ceiling (even that is debatable considering how 2017 ended), how can you possibly justify to the rest of the locker room benching Foles, the man whose return to the lineup has coincided with the best and most clutch stretch of the season? I’m sure the Eagles respect both quarterbacks equally, but making such an abrupt change at such an important position seems too dangerous to actually execute.
So if you’re asking me, I don’t think Wentz playing is completely off the table, especially if Foles gets hurt, Wentz is fully cleared and/or Foles somehow struggles mightily on the way to another Super Bowl appearance. But if you’re asking me as if I’m the Eagles, I think Doug Pederson would all but need a separate and semi-serious Foles injury to convince himself Wentz belongs back on the field before 2019.
Tyler Jackson (@TJackRH)
I’d love to see Wentz come back, but I don’t think it’s in the team’s best interest on any level. As much as we’d like to believe Foles has played better than Wentz, his performances have rounded out. They won the Bears game in spite of him (rarely do you win playoff games with a minus-two turnover differential).
Part of what makes Doug a great head coach is the emotional intelligence and how he handles his locker room and players. They know he has the team’s best interest in mind. I believe by not placing Wentz on IR, he’s letting him know the staff has no doubts about Wentz being their guy going forward.
All that being said, you roll with Foles if the scenario arises. It’s highly unlikely the back fracture heals before the Super Bowl — if the Eagles make it that far. He’s undoubtedly the franchise guy and as such, his health is the most critical component of the team sustaining the success its had over the last two seasons.
What do you think the Eagles should do if the situation arises?