Examining the Mixed Signals on Carson Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - One national NFL writer claimed there is going to be a Reggie White-like feeding frenzy for Nick Foles whenever the Eagles season ends.
After the first two games of the 2018 campaign, it was more like a Jason Babin market for Foles but now after being reinserted into the lineup after Carson Wentz's latest injury and again performing magic in December and January, Foles is again a hot commodity in a fickle league.
For now, only one thing is certain for Philadelphia at the QB position, Foles will start Sunday in the divisional round of the playoffs at New Orleans against fellow Austin, Texas Westlake High School alum Drew Brees.
A loss to the heavily-favored Saints, who blitzed the Eagles 48-7 back on Nov. 18 and everything reverts to the status quo with Wentz as the long-term starter and the Eagles embracing the hyperbole while trying to make the best of Foles' $20 million mutual contract option by attempting to acquire some kind of asset from other quarterback-desperate teams.
If Foles delivers more magic in the shadow of Bourbon Street and the Eagles reach the NFC Championship Game for a second consecutive season, the decision-making gets even murkier for Howie Roseman. Another Super Bowl berth likely ensures Foles staying in Philadelphia somehow while a second Lombardi Trophy ensures it.
Everything is fluid but the probabilities still lean heavily toward Wentz, which is why Doug Pederson continues to straddle the fence when it comes to the "face of the franchise."
"I’m not worried about the future, but I understand where I stand," Foles said Wednesday. "And every time I wear that jersey, it’s special."
Wentz is essentially shut down for the season with a stress fracture in his back and the coach already proclaimed Foles the starter and Nate Sudfeld the backup against the Saints yet refused to rule out Wentz for the game on Wednesday, despite acknowledging that Wentz isn't going to practice.
“I haven’t decided that yet,” Pederson said when asked about Wentz's status in NOLA. “That is a decision I would make later in the week, but I’m not ready to make that decision yet.”
Then came the contradiction.
"As far as his health, yeah, he is getting better. He is getting better," Pederson said of Wentz. "As far as practice, right now he's still resting."
The strategy for Pederson seems to be the precarious existence of the NFL playoffs themselves.
“This week,” Pederson said when asked if Foles would start the rest of the way. “It is a one-and-done season right now.”
Obviously, if Foles wins, however, he's starting the NFC title tilt and if he leads the team to Atlanta, Super Bowl LIII is his as well.
There is only one scenario in which you will see Wentz again this season and that's if Foles is injured in-game against either the Saints or in a projected NFCCG and Sudfeld finishes a victory. At that point the Eagles would likely go back to Wentz as the best option to help them finish.
Unless that scenario pops up, however, the Eagles will be leaning on the doctors for shade.
"Until we get the okay from the docs [regarding Wentz], we'll just keep going as we're going," Pederson said.
In other words, Wentz ends his third season as the break-the-glass-in-case-of-a-very- unlikely-emergency QB.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen