By Peter Gleason
I hate to crash the happiness party that Eagles Nation is having for their beloveds’ Super Bowl game against the Pats next Sunday.
It is truly a time to celebrate.
Especially for a team that hasn’t been No. 1 in America’s No. 1 sport since Dwight Eisenhower was president on Dec. 26, 1960, when the Birds beat the Packers 17-13 for their last NFL title.
But there is potential trouble just ahead.
We’re just now learning the full severity of Carson Wentz’s knee injury on Dec. 10:
Kid Carson is looking at a 9-to-12 month rehab timeline, in spite of Wentz’s confidence that he’ll be ready for the season-opener.
But it suggests two things. First, the team will likely be extremely cautious with Wentz’s rehabilitation, lest he become the next cautionary tale of coming back too soon, a la Robert Griffin with the Washington Redskins.
There’s a chance that Wentz not only doesn’t make it back for the start of the 2018 schedule, but that he continues his rehab process well into the slate.
This leaves us with our second point – that Foles is a strong possibility to open next season as the team’s starter. As much as general manager Howie Roseman loves to trade players and picks who have value in the offseason, even he will have to consider the risk that comes with dealing Foles without knowing if Wentz will be ready by September. It might not be the worst thing for Foles, as it gives him added time to rebuild his career under head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who are both seeing shades of the 2013 player who looked like a potential cornerstone.
“A couple years ago he was a starter and had a Pro Bowl year,” Pederson said. “He had 27 [touchdowns] and two [interceptions]. Those are pretty good numbers for a starter. I think he’s getting back to that. The one thing with Nick, you’ve got to remember, he missed all of training camp with the [first-string] guys. He missed the regular-season reps with the guys. Now he’s had a month and a half of practice and you’re seeing now what Nick is capable of doing.”
“I just know this – he’s one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the NFL,” Eagles O-boss Frank Reich added. “I don’t want to lose Nick. I’m being selfish here. We want two starters on our team.”
Foles has steadfastly avoided revealing potential thoughts of how this latest run might have hit the reset button for him as a starter in the NFL or perhaps changed perceptions. But whether he’s admitting it or not, he has to know that the aura around him has already begun to change. And it would alter significantly if he could win a title as an instrumental piece on Sunday.
“When that time comes, I’m signed for another year with the Eagles,” Foles said. “I know that. That’s all I’m focused on. I’m focused on this game. … When those times come when you have to make career decisions, then you tackle them.”
That time is coming. A Super Bowl win could draw it closer than ever, cementing the coaching staff’s belief that Foles is at least one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the NFL and may not be far removed from that 2013 Pro Bowl edition. With one more victory this season,Nick Foles might have some significant opportunities ahead as an NFL starter.
But once Wentz is healed, they won’t be in an Eagles uniform. And nothing can change that.