It's been a couple days now since Carson Wentz got hurt, and it's taken a couple days to kind of sort out exactly where I feel the Eagles are right now.
I asked myself two questions:
1) Could Carson Wentz have won a Super Bowl? The answer was an unequivocal yes.
2) Can Nick Foles win a Super Bowl? The answer I honestly came up with was no.
Then I added another question:
3) Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback?
This is a different question and a more relevant question, and you know what? I think the answer might be yes.
I think back to a conversation I had with John Harbaugh in the parking lot at the NovaCare Complex the morning after Donovan McNabb broke his ankle against the Cardinals in 2002. McNabb had thrown four touchdowns and led a 38-14 win at the Vet hobbling around on what was believed to be a sprained ankle but turned out to sideline McNabb for six weeks.
The Eagles were 7-3 but were faced with a stretch run with Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley as the quarterbacks.
Harbaugh was as passionate then as an unknown special teams coach as he is now as a Super Bowl-winning head coach, and I can hear his voice clear as day 15 years later.
"You know what? This is not a knock on Donovan because he's a great quarterback. A great quarterback," Harbaugh said Nov. 18, 2002. "But we're going to go 6-0 the rest of the way. Do you know why? Because the strength of this team isn't Donovan McNabb. The strength of this team is the team. It's the team."
I never forgot those words.
And you know what? He was very nearly right. The Eagles won their next five games, the first in San Francisco on a Monday night with Detmer at quarterback and then the next four with the unheralded former fifth-round pick Feeley at the helm. They would have won 'em all if David Akers hadn't missed a 35-yard field goal against the Giants at the Meadowlands with a minute left on the final day of the season.
McNabb came back for the playoffs, and the Eagles wound up losing to the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game.
But Harbaugh's point was spot on, and I think it's just as relevant today as it was back in 2002.
This is a team, and it's a terrific team, and Wentz was a huge part of it. He had a magical season. He was dazzling. He may have been at his best Sunday afternoon in L.A. before he got hurt.
But they are 11-2 for a lot of other reasons, and there are 52 other guys in that locker room who have been working incredibly hard since the spring building a team with a tremendous amount of spirit and determination and togetherness, and that's not going to just go away because Wentz got hurt.
Fletcher Cox isn't going to stop being a monster at defensive tackle. Jay Ajayi isn't going to stop trampling people when he gets the football. Jalen Mills isn't going to stop covering wide receivers with confidence and swagger. Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson aren't going to stop burying opposing defensive linemen that try to get through the wall on the right side of the offensive line.
If there's one thing we've learned these last few months, it's that this is a true team, with guys who believe in each other and more than anything, believe in their coach.
When you have that — and good players — anything is possible.
So when I consider the question … Can the Eagles win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles … I look at it differently.
First of all, can this football team beat the Giants? Sure. Can they beat the Raiders? Definitely. Can they beat the Cowboys at home (if they even need the game)? Why not?
And then can they win two playoff games at home? Can they beat, say, the Falcons and Vikings with a former Pro Bowl quarterback who's won his last eight starts at the Linc and played pretty well in the playoffs a few years ago when he had the chance?
Yeah. They can.
Then what? Can they beat the Steelers or Patriots in Super Bowl LII?
You know what? If they're good enough to get to Minneapolis, they're good enough to win.
Am I overrating what the Eagles have with Wentz out of the lineup? Who knows. Maybe.
But being around this team every day since the summer, I know one thing: It's a mistake to doubt them. It's a mistake to say they can't accomplish something.
They can do this.