Explaining the Carson Wentz Timeline
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was cleared for contact and will start the team's Week 3 game against Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson announced the news at his press conference on Monday, less than 24 hours after the Eagles loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa.
So why now?
Wentz has looked ready to go for weeks but the Eagles were intent on waiting the full nine months post-surgery before giving the all clear. His surgery took place on Dec. 13 last year, three days after he suffered ACL and LCL ligament tears against the Los Angeles Rams.
"I mean that's important," Pederson admitted when discussing the nine-month mark. "I'm not a doctor, but I'm assuming that was a big factor in the decision, was just the extra time to heal and to get stronger with the injury."
The demarcation line was last Thursday, too late for Wentz to get a full week of practice in during the preparation for Tampa Bay, the second caveat Pederson had cited when discussing Wentz's return.
The narrative of RFID chips and GPS tracking data was nothing more than an attempt to spin a simple decision into a more layered one by an organization that covets its reputation as an innovative one.
If you examine the report that Wentz's data had reached a significant landmark of being able to "protect himself," it never held water.
After all what exactly is the definition of that in something that is not exactly settled science?
Wentz, like any ACL/LCL patient, is surely not 100 percent of his pre-surgery self at this stage and obviously similar data would have signaled his ability to protect himself against the Rams a season ago.
In other words, Wentz was injured despite having the ability to protect himself because that's just what happens at times in a violent sport.
Furthermore, take a look at Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears when he sprained his knee and was carted off before returning to lead the Green Bay Packers to victory without his typical mobility. Rodgers played again this week despite barely practicing and was brilliant again in a 29-29 tie with Minnesota.
Rodgers wouldn't have reached any GPS landmark of being able to protect himself against the Bears yet used his savvy to get through the game in one piece. He also made the decision to continue playing despite being far from 100 percent because that's what players do in this league.
Dr. David Chao, the former San Diego Chargers team orthopedist, described the typical rehab with Wentz's injury, saying nine months is where you're capable of being a pocket QB with more-limited mobility with the full boat not reached until 12 or 15 months post surgery putting Wentz at 100 percent somewhere between Dec. 13 of this year and March of 2019.
Yet everyone knew that the Eagles weren't putting off the face of the franchise until the holiday season never mind talking the competitive Wentz into skipping the entire campaign with an eye on the "next 10 or 15 years."
Wentz worked his you know what off to reach his goal of playing Week 1 and any extra healing from Sept. 6 to Sept. 23 is negligible.
What that extra time does offer is the ability to point to the medical standard in case of re-injury.
"In his mind, he was probably ready a month ago," Pederson conceeded.
The Eagles were being cautious but not with Wentz. They were being careful with the reputation of a re-made medical staff more concerned with plausible deniability in the worst-case scenario rather than rewarding the hard work of their on-field leader by letting him start the season.
"It was strictly a medical decision," Pederson admitted. "We, the organization, put it on the medical team and said 'hey, physically when is he going to be ready?' Whenever that date was, we were going to be ready to go. It just so happens that it was this week."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen