Nothing to See Here: Foles Now, Wentz Later
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Technically there is no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia but don't be fooled the Eagles are Nick Foles' team for the rest of this season whether it ends in Washington on Sunday or continues into the postseason.
Doug Pederson already names Foles the starter for the regular-season finale against the Redskins and it's a wait-and-see approach from there because Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and hope the coach's old friends, Matt Nagy, can get his already playoff-bound Bears to beat the talented but underachieving Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.
The first step was Foles' health after getting plastered by Jadeveon Clowney late in his record-setting performance during a 32-30 win over Houston.
The veteran signal-caller left for one play before returning and leading the Eagles down the field for a walk-off Jake Elliott field goal that made Week 17 meaningful.
Foles was getting checked out after the game and took a very long time before appearing at his post-game press conference to declare he was fine, a sentiment seconded by Pederson on Monday.
The second part is Carson Wentz, who is still recovering from a stress fracture in his back, but remains on the 53-man roster, a status that will continue for the regular-season finale.
For the first time, Pederson left the door ajar for Foles when it comes to Wentz being medically cleared by the medical staff, however.
“Right now, Nick is the guy, and we're going to finish at least this last game with Nick,” Pederson cemented, “and then we'll evaluate next week again.”
Obviously, if the Eagles don't make the playoffs there is nothing to evaluate so it was smart to kick the can down the road. After all, if you don't get the opportunity to cross the bridge, there is no need to contemplate how you are going to do it.
If Philadelphia is going to the dance, though, Foles is the one who will be taking them and Pederson isn't about to ditch the Super Bowl MVP once the festivities begin, something he intimated for the first time.
“Those are obviously conversations we have to have,” Pederson explained. “Those are tough decisions to make. I've said all along that Carson is our guy and if he's cleared and 100 percent and ready to go, then we'll address that at that time.”
Pederson has smartly left himself an out on multiple occasions by declaring Wentz's injury will take three months to heal and now putting the 100 percent caveat on Wentz's status. But the real work is behind the scenes where Pederson must ride the hot hand of Foles while massaging the ego of Wentz, who is being pushed aside by another historic Foles run.
The only thing that could potentially put Wentz back on the field this season is an injury to Foles but even that is unlikely because doing that would reveal you essentially benched the face of the franchise instead of going back to him when he was healthy enough to play.
“It's hard to answer [who would play if Wentz is cleared] just because we have Washington,” Pederson said. “We have to win. We have to win this week, and then we'll answer these questions next week, but I hope we're in that position.”
Foles threw for a franchise-record 471 yards and four touchdowns against the Texans and unless the Eagles do reach the playoffs, Sunday will likely be his final game in an Eagles uniform.
In other injury news left tackle Jason Peters is “day-to-day” after playing only the first five snaps against the Texans due to a quad injury. Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in for Peters against Houston and would again play against the Redskins if Peters is unavailable. There is hope that left guard Isaac Seumalo could return after missing two games with a pec injury.
On defense it sounds like cornerback Sidney Jones will again be sidelined for the regular-season finale with his hamstring issue, meaning Avonte Maddox will continue to handle the left cornerback role and may have won the job anyway after his stellar performance over the prior two weeks.
Finally, the Eagles have activated receiver Mike Wallace, who was on injured reserve after breaking his fibula in Week 2, and promoted cornerback Josh Hawkins from the practice squad. To make room on the roster, the team waived CBs De'Vante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan.
The team had been holding its final designated-to-return slot in the hope Wallace could make it back.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen