Carson Wentz is the Eagles quarterback of the future. Everyone should see that, although it’s apparent many don’t.
Nick Foles is the Eagles quarterback of the present. Everyone should see that, and it’s apparent that almost everybody does.
The Eagles have one more game remaining in their regular season and they’ll have at least one playoff game if they beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday and the Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings, which would allow the Eagles to sneak away with the NFC’s final playoff berth. The Eagles have nobody but themselves for their precarious position, since they allowed a few games to slip away (Tennessee, Carolina, Dallas) and somehow managed to lose to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A victory in any of those games and the Eagles’ future would be securely in their own hands. Alas…
That’s the big picture.
The almost-as-big picture is their quarterback situation, which is, to say the least, controversial and contentious. Coming into the season, there was no question in anybody’s mind that Wentz was the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, a guy who would be going to numerous Pro Bowls while leading the Eagles to numerous Super Bowls.
In a preseason poll of NFL players – and that’s players, not biased fans or out-of-touch sports writers – that ranked the top 100 players in the league, Wentz was No. 3, behind New England quarterback Tom Brady and Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown. That means Wentz finished ahead of future Hall-of-Famers Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers.
And Wentz mostly played well this season, although he was inconsistent at times and, as a result, the Eagles’ offense struggled at times. Now, whether that was Wentz’s fault or the blame should be directed at the play design and play-calling of coach Doug Pederson is debatable. But Wentz tended to run hot and cold, although his statistics were even better than they were last season, when he was a leading candidate for league MVP before a knee injury ended his season.
That injury, of course, opened the door for Foles and we all know what happened after that – he led the Eagles on a magical run that ended up with an historic parade down Broad Street.
Now that appears to be happening again, although there’s a good chance the Eagles won’t even make it to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. Foles has led the Eagles to victories over two first-place teams, the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans, and that has put the Eagles into a position where they can at least think about the playoffs.
And that has triggered an unexpected dynamic. As great as Foles was last year, nobody thought he should replace Wentz as the starter full-time. In fact, a lot of people thought the Eagles should trade him for a second- or third-round draft pick and get something of value for him while they could.
But now – at least going by social media and talk radio – there are thousands of fans who believe Foles, and not Wentz, is the long-term answer at quarterback. Foles is already a folk hero in Philadelphia and nothing will ever change that, and now a lot of people want him to stay here, even though they know that won’t happen.
And it shouldn’t. As great as Foles has been in some very big games, he’s also had some clunkers in his career.
He started the first two games this season while Wentz recovered from his knee injuries and he didn’t exactly light it up as the Eagles went 1-1. Plus Foles’ contract – he would make $20 million if he’s on the Eagles’ roster next season – makes it impossible to keep both QBs for a third straight season.
And Pederson has already made it clear that Wentz is the guy going forward.
That’s the way it should be. People tend to forget how good Wentz was last year before he got hurt. He still has tremendous upside and there’s another huge factor in all of this – Wentz is three years younger and has been in the league four fewer seasons.
So, even though Eagles fans have an incredible emotional attachment to Nick Foles, as they should, they should also use cool-headed rationale and realize that they are fortunate that Carson Wentz is their franchise quarterback and will be for the next decade.
And, really, the most important thing is this: In a league where many teams don’t have one good quarterback, the Eagles are fortunate enough right now to have two. That combination won a Super Bowl last season. As for this season, well, we’ll all find out the answer to that one about 7:30 on Sunday night.