McMullen: Is the Eagles New Norm False Advertising?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Carson Wentz saga exploded on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex after a mysterious back injury emerged threatening the third-year quarterback's status for Sunday's game in Los Angeles and perhaps beyond.
In hindsight, the fact that Doug Pederson was actually offering up injury updates at the start of his typical Wednesday press conference was a dead giveaway that something was going on.
And that something was a balky back for Wentz, just as he was set to return to Los Angeles and the same field where he tore his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 of last year.
"A new one, Carson has a little bit of back soreness, a little tightness so we are going to rest him today," the coach said, "[We will] continue to evaluate him and make sure he's good."
Minutes after Pederson was done talking to the local media the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who generally has a direct line to one Eagles executive, reported that Wentz is not expected to play against the Rams this week and depending on the result of the game [as well as the results elsewhere], it's possible that the third-year QB may not play again in 2018.
There is a lot of caveats to that report and all 973espn.com can add is that backup Nick Foles has been told to be ready to play this weekend.
The back problems are certainly real for Wentz, first cropping up in October and they help explain the spikes in mobility from week-to-week as stiffness or spasms can certainly impact movement.
“Sometimes he just gets a little sore, a little tight,” Pederson said.
Just about every starter in this league from the highest-paid on down [think Aaron Rodgers playing through an MCL sprain] fights through injuries, something Pederson, a former QB himself acknowledged.
"Listen, every player is going to play with a little nagging injury from time to time," Pederson said. "That’s just the way it works in this business."
From there some common sense plays into the whole situation, meaning if the underdog Eagles do lose to the heavily-favored Rams and either Minnesota or Carolina figure out how to win again [hardly a slam dunk with the Vikings playing a surging Miami team and the Panthers underdogs to New Orleans], perhaps not exposing Wentz to the bumps and bruises over the final two games makes a little more sense with a $30 million-plus extension on the horizon.
The players, of course, plan on fighting with the Super Bowl MVP hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice as a Mariano Rivera-like closer. The difference this time is instead of nailing down the two-inning save with the lead, the Eagles are sending Foles in there down a few runs.
“We’ve seen what Nick can do,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “It’s going to be interesting if that’s the case [Foles starting]. Right now, the NFC East, it is what it is. Right now, we’re looking forward to the sixth seed. We’ve just got to win out and hope things fall our way. All we’re trying to do is get a seat at the table.”
If the Eagles want to shut down Wentz as a precautionary measure, however, they would essentially be devaluing a playoff spot in the hopes of getting Wentz right for the next 10 years -- a vapid cliche in a league which isn't just fluid, it moves at the speed of light.
And if you don't believe that consider the Pederson era if that's the case-- from worst in the NFC East to Super Bowl champions to raising the white flag at the NovaCare Center before Week 15 even begins.
If that's the "new normal" the Eagles are guilty of false advertising.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen