When Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he believes the team would have won the Super Bowl with Carson Wentz at quarterback, some viewed it as a slap at Nick Foles. It’s not; it’s a fairly obvious opinion based on how well the Eagles were playing with Wentz under center.
But the reality for the Eagles has become that Wentz wasn’t able to stay healthy enough to see the season through, opening the door for Foles to unlock the team’s first Super Bowl championship.
As the Eagles make decisions about the quarterback depth chart for 2018, it would be foolish to not ensure the existence of protections against Wentz not being ready for Week One. The easy answer is Foles. But if it’s Foles — if he’s the one who starts the Week One, season-opening, Super Bowl celebration, plays well, and wins — who will start Week Two? If Foles plays well and wins in Week Two, who will start Week Three?
As long as Foles plays well, it’s a dynamic that will continue, and strengthen, with each passing week. As long as the Eagles are winning and Foles is playing well, Foles becomes Case Keenum and Wentz becomes Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater.
While the same thing could happen even if Nate Sudfeld or a veteran quarterback currently with another team (Josh McCown would be a great choice) serve as the placeholder until Wentz is ready to go, Foles brings a tangible quality the others don’t: He actually, not hypothetically, delivered the first Lombardi Trophy onto which the Eagles ever applied their fingerprints.
Wentz is smart enough to realize how this could play out. He’s also apparently smart enough to not hitch his name to a goofy catch phrase like “All In For Week One” as part of an effort to process fear of being supplanted by his understudy. Still, is it good for the Eagles if Wentz tries so hard to get ready for Week One that he sets back his rehab and recovery?
Wentz clearly is the Eagles’ long-term quarterback. But if Wentz isn’t ready for Week One, the backup will play. At some point, the switch will flip back to Wentz. If the backup is also the guy who delivered the Super Bowl win, the switch may be a lot harder to flip.
Thus, in assessing their options for dealing with Foles, who is under contract through 2018, the Eagles need to consider the wisdom of getting maximum value for him now (in the name of rewarding him for what he brought to the city and the team) and having another No. 2 quarterback who will be easier to remove from the lineup if/when the season arrives, Wentz isn’t 100 percent, and the backup plays well.