The Eagles announced on Monday that third-year quarterback Carson Wentz has been medically cleared and will start on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Over the last couple of weeks, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen have mentioned that Wentz could return by Week 3.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is excited to have the young-signal back in action for this week’s game.
“Well, anytime you get one of your starters back, it’s great. I’m excited to get him back out there,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s not about one guy. And we can’t lose sight of that. We got other issues, offensively, defensively, and special teams that we need to coach up, and as exciting as it is to have him back, your starting quarterback, we still have some other areas to fix.”
The last time Wentz took a snap under center was last December in Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams. During that game, Wentz suffered a significant knee injury, tearing both the ACL and LCL.
Before suffering the knee injury, the former second overall pick was on the verge of possibly winning NFL MVP. Wentz completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games.
As we all know when Wentz went down, veteran backup quarterback Nick Foles took over for him and did an impeccable job.
Despite a sluggish finish to the regular season and the first half against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional playoffs, Foles caught fire for the rest of the postseason, leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history over the New England Patriots.
Fast forward to this summer and Wentz was still not cleared for contact, but participated in 11-on-11 drills and split first-team reps with Foles as the regular season approached. Before every preseason game and the first two regular season games, Wentz has been throwing the football around and working on footwork drills.
However, when Wentz does takes his first snaps on Sunday, he will be leading an Eagles team, who suffered an embarrassing 27-21 loss on Sunday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Against the Buccaneers, Nick Foles completed 72.9 percent of his passes for 334 yards, a touchdown, and zero interceptions. It was a solid performance from Foles, who showed vast improvement from his Week 1 outing against the Falcons.
In the season opener, Foles only completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 117 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception.
Heading into this week’s contest against the Colts, Wentz will be going against a defense, which held the Washington Redskins’ offense in check. Indianapolis only allowed nine points, held quarterback Alex Smith to zero touchdown passes and shut down Washington’s running game.
The Eagles cannot afford for Wentz to take a lot of hits next Sunday, so it will be up to the offensive line to make he has a clean pocket to maneuver in. Pederson was asked about the play calling going forward and making sure the young quarterback does not get exposed to hits.
“Think about the game yesterday. How many times did [QB] Nick [Foles] get hit? It’s part of the game,” he explained.
“The thing is I’m not going to coach scared. I’m not going to coach paranoid. I’m not going to go in thinking, ‘Oh no, we can’t do ‘this’, we can’t do ‘that’.’ We just have to continue to go play and I [have] to coach that way. That’s where the confidence with the team comes, by doing that. If there’s opportunities to max the protection and do some things there, we’ll do that by game plans, by design. But I don’t think that things are going to change too much.”
If this is the case, the running game has to get going for Philadelphia because the wide receiver unit is very thin with Alshon Jeffery still not ready to play yet and veteran Mike Wallace suffering a fractured fibula.
Nevertheless, Wentz still has tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Nelson Agholor to throw to and the ability to create plays with his legs. But on the flip side of things, Wentz will still have to learn to protect himself because he cannot afford to have another knee injury.
This coming Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field should be special with Wentz making his long-awaited debut and the Eagles looking to get back into the win column.