How Carson Wentz's injury defined these Eagles

AP Images

How Carson Wentz's injury defined these Eagles

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The first thing that happened when Carson Wentz limped down the tunnel at Los Angeles Coliseum was Jason Kelce grabbed Nick Foles and immediately began practicing some snaps on the sideline.
"You saw what happened with Carson, but you don’t have time to really process it," Kelce said. "So I brought Nick over, 'Hey, let’s get a few cadences so everybody can hear the rhythm,' because that can vary by quarterback and I wanted all the guys to hear him. You knew he was hurt, but we’re still trying to win a football game.
"After the game, it’s a pretty devastating feeling, to tell you the truth. Because he was the main reason we were there. After the game, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. But in the moment, you just have to get back to work."
In a season of dramatic challenges, this was by far the biggest.
Wentz had just suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the third quarter of a game against that game against the Rams in Los Angeles, and although there was no official announcement, NFL players know a season-ending injury when they see one.
Their franchise, their MVP, their savior, was hobbling down a tunnel with a towel wrapped around his head.
Just like that, everything they had worked for was in jeopardy.
It was a pivotal moment for the 2017 Eagles. Really, it was the pivotal moment.
“One of the things that stands out to me when Carson got hurt, no one panicked," Zach Ertz said. "It was a huge moment for our team. Guys could have gone one of two ways. It was either going to be a disaster where everyone panics or everyone was going to remain calm, and everything we went through this year kind of prepared us for that extreme situation.
"He was the MVP of the league at that point and guys didn’t even bat an eye."
Picture the scene.
Wentz tore his ACL and LCL in his knee late in the third quarter of the Eagles-Rams game, with the Eagles trailing, 28-24. He stayed in the game and four plays later threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.
The Rams then drove 75 yards and took a 35-31 lead on a Todd Gurley touchdown run.
So the Eagles were 3,000 miles from home, their MVP was on crutches in the locker room, they were trailing a 9-3 team early in the fourth quarter and their backup quarterback had missed all of the preseason with an elbow injury and had thrown just four passes all year.
You want adversity? That's adversity.
"You could easily crumble," Trey Burton said. "The best player in the league goes down? Yeah. But all year, the next man has gone in and gotten the job done, and we just had faith in Nick and just kept fighting.
"What else would we do? There was no other option."
Foles went out and made enough plays to engineer two field goal drives, and the defense, gashed much of the game, held the Rams to six yards with two turnovers on their last three drives.
The Eagles won, 43-35. They haven't lost a meaningful game since.
"We’ve always felt it’s not a one-man show, and we showed it that day and all year," Corey Graham said. "It was definitely big for us, finding a way to finish that game despite what happened."
They not only finished that game, they went on one of the most improbable runs in NFL history, reaching the Super Bowl with a quarterback who had contemplated retirement two years earlier, had changed teams after the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons and had a 5-7 record since leaving the Eagles three years ago.
“You know when you see someone walking off the field like Carson did that he's probably not coming back. Especially someone as tough as Carson," Torrey Smith said.
"You know they're not coming back. So that was the reality. To lose the MVP in my opinion, that's a tough task, but nobody blinked. We had to step up our game, rally around each other and make sure we're sharp, but when Nick stepped in, no one complained on the sideline.
"We felt bad for Carson, but nobody was like, ‘Oh no, Carson's hurt.’ It was just, ‘Hey, we've got to win this game, let's go. Let's go.
"That's why you have to build a team the right way, so when things do happen, you're able to weather the storm. Character, talent, it all goes into it. If you have the right guys, they won’t let it break them.
"No one flinched. And it's kind of been that way all year. We lose J.P. (Jason Peters), who was balling like a 22-year-old? We lose Jordan Hicks? (Darren) Sproles? (Chris) Maragos? It’s just, ‘OK, come on let's go.’ Let’s just go win the ball game.”
The win gave the Eagles the NFC East title, and a win over the Giants at the Meadowlands a week later clinched a first-round bye. The Eagles then beat the Raiders to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Playoff wins at the Linc over the Falcons and Vikings have the Eagles in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Nearly two months after Wentz's season ended, the Eagles are one win away from the franchise's first championship since the 1960 team beat Vince Lombardi on a Monday afternoon at Franklin Field.
"Your focus has to go right back to the game because we're trying to win a tight ballgame that might decide home field and all that stuff, so we had to just snap our fingers and focus on the game," Chris Long said.
"It's kind of in our instincts the way we've been coached all year that we don't panic. We're not a panicky group. We're very even-keel.
"Certainly a lot of teams, a lot of coaching staffs, a lot of locker rooms would have panicked but we really didn't have that. I think a lot of it was that we had Nick, who isn't your average backup quarterback. He's played great in the league and he's an experienced guy, so while Carson is an MVP type guy, it takes a team, and we kept reminding ourselves of that. It takes 53 guys."
The Eagles lost Sproles in the first Giants game and won. They lost Peters and Hicks in the second Redskins game and won. They lost Maragos in the Panthers game and won. They lost Caleb Sturgis in the opener against the Redskins and won.
“Because we had so many moments like that one, it seemed like that prepared us for that one," special teams coach Dave Fipp said.
"It wasn't just Wentz but other great players. So we kind of knew how to handle it. Just do the same thing we’ve been doing all year long.
"The best thing about this team is their resilience and their internal belief that they’re going to find a way to get it done no matter what.”
And the lesson the whole NFL has learned from the 2017 Eagles is that no team is just one guy. No matter how talented that one guy is.
The Eagles' ability to deal with Wentz's injury both in the moment and over these last two months is why they're still playing football on Feb. 4.
"You're in the locker room, you come to the locker room every day, sometimes you don't realize how much a head coach has to do with the psyche of the team one way or another and can rub off in a good or a bad way," Long said.
"I think coach has done a really good job of hammering home that this is a team. We miss Carson but at the end of the day it's 53 guys and that includes Nick, who's here for a reason.
"We really do have a good roster. All 22 positions. We've got good people in this room. We don't have finger pointers. Unselfish group and even keel. That's the mantra.  
"It's kind of unspoken because at the end of the day your leadership, your core players could give a big speech, but if your guys don't believe we can still be great, then how good is that going to be?
"It really does take belief that we're still a bad-ass football team."

Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

USA Today Images

Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

Mock draft season is here. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles will hold the No. 32 overall pick. Here is Paul Hudrick's mock draft 1.0 to get you ready for the 2018 NFL draft in Arlington, Texas. 

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6-4/220)
Darnold has work to do mechanically, but his intangibles are off the charts. Mentally and as a leader, he has what it takes to make it in Cleveland. He'd benefit from watching behind DeShon Kizer to start the season.

2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6-4/218)
If it were me, Rosen is the guy if I'm taking a quarterback. His footwork and toughness in the pocket are second to none in this draft. There's questions about his maturity, but moments like this make me believe he'll be just fine.

3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6-4/275)
The Colts need an impact pass rusher and Chubb is the best there is in this draft. He's also a nasty customer, something Indy could use a little more of.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (5-11/223)
You already drafted your future franchise QB, now give him a serious weapon to work with. Sure, there are things Barkley needs to improve on, but he has the potential to be a perennial all-pro.

5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame (6-5/329)
With Darnold and Rosen gone, the Broncos pick the best offensive lineman in the draft. Of all the players in the draft, Nelson seems like the most can't-miss prospect. He has the potential to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (6-1/220)
This is where things get interesting. You might look at Mayfield and think his antics and off-the-field issues wouldn't fly in New York. I look at it like this: what prospect has dealt with more scrutiny over the past year than Mayfield? I see a Kirk Cousins-like QB with a little more attitude.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama (6-1/201)
This is a perfect fit. Fitzpatrick is a versatile DB who will help fix the Bucs' biggest flaw. Fitzpatrick can cover, has excellent range and he's physical. Easily the best safety in this draft.

8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6-1/190)
When mock drafts first started coming out, Ridley wasn't regarded as a top-10 pick. I have no idea why. This guy has it all. He's an explosive and precise route runner who can be effective catching balls all over the field. He's a true No. 1 receiver, which the Bears desperately need.

9/10. Oakland Raiders (coin flip) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (6-1/225)
Smith earned being a top-10 pick after his play during the CFP. He's a monster. He plays sideline to sideline and will be a welcome addition to a Raiders' defense that has some pieces but has struggled.

9/10. San Francisco 49ers (coin flip) – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (6-1/192)
Jackson fits the mold of the modern corner with his length and ability to press. He's also showed the ability to play off and excel in zone. The 49ers will be an intriguing team next season and Jackson will add to that.

11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (6-5/250)
Edmunds possesses unbelievable size and athletic ability. He'll excel at blitzing and covering tight ends at the next level.

12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6-6/320)
The Bengals clearly made a mistake in letting Andrew Whitworth go to the Rams. Their first step in rectifying that would be to take the best tackle in the draft.

13. Washington Redskins – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6-5/223)
You've all likely heard it by now: Allen has all the physical tools, he just needs work. Well, it's absolutely true. From a physical standpoint, there isn't a more gifted QB in this draft. Give him a couple seasons to sit behind Alex Smith and hope Jay Gruden can get the most out of Allen.

14. Green Bay Packers – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU (6-6/265)
Key was a beast his sophomore season (11 sacks), before a junior year mired by injuries and inconsistency. He has all the tools to be a disruptive NFL edge rusher. Can the Packers get it out of him?

15. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma (6-8/360)
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Cardinals look to bolster their offensive line. Brown is a road grader that should help pave the way for star RB David Johnson. Does Brown have enough athleticism to play the left side? I believe he does.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6-4/218)
Sutton is an interesting case. He has great size and is pretty quick for a bigger receiver. He dominated in the American Conference and should test well at the combine. His stock could rise, but he'd be a great fit for the Ravens.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6-4/344)
Putting Vea on the inside with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside seems unfair. He's the most athletic 344-pounder I've ever seen.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James, S, Florida State (6-3/215)
James was once thought of as a top-10 talent but struggled last season coming off an injury. He's the type of physical, versatile player that will thrive in Seattle and possibly replace Cam Chancellor.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (6-2/308)
Payne showed how disruptive and dominant he can be in the National Championship Game. If the Cowboys can get that player to show up every week, he'll be giving the Eagles trouble for years.

20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (6-6/255)
There may not be a player riding a bigger hype train than Davenport. He has great measureables, was extremely productive and should test well. The Lions are perpetually in need of pass rushers.

21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (6-2/282)
There are a few mocks out there that have Hurst ahead of Payne. I will say that Hurst was a more consistent player this season, but Payne is younger and has a bigger upside. Still, Hurst should help the Bills immediately.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (6-1/190)
Like Jackson, Oliver fits the mold of the prototypical NFL corner. He also fits the mold of what head coach Sean McDermott has looked for in his corners.

23. Los Angeles Rams – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU (5-10/191)
I'm not as high on Ward as others. I thought he got bullied by bigger receivers. With that said, he has excellent footwork and speed to mirror receivers up and down the field.

24. Carolina Panthers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (6-3/250)
Landry would've probably gone around this range if he'd come out last year (16 1/2 sacks). He wasn't as productive this season (five sacks) but is certainly worth a shot here for the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans - Billy Price, C, OSU (6-4/312)
The Titans have bookend tackles but could use help in the middle. Price's issue might be that he's a little too aggressive at times. Better than the alternative. He's tough, athletic and plays with an edge.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP (6-2/348)
Hernandez is the second-best guard in this draft. He had a nice week at Senior Bowl that will likely make him first-rounder.

27. New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6-3/234)
Evans would've looked great in midnight green, but I don't see any way he gets to pick 32. Recruited as a pass rusher, Evans became an inside 'backer for Nick Saban. That versatility should serve him well as a 4-3 OLB.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (6-1/203)
I like Davis more than Ward, but going off the hype, I'll mock Davis here. Joe Haden doesn't seem like a candidate to return for the Steelers and they could use more help at corner.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6-3/200)
The Jags are giving Blake Bortles another shot. Taking Jackson hedges their bets. No doubt Jackson has work to do with his mechanics and accuracy (though he's much improved), but putting him in the same backfield as Leonard Fournette with a dominant defense would be awfully intriguing.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia (6-2/300)
The Vikings' O-line was vastly improved in 2017, but could still use more help. Wynn provides versatility, having played left tackle for the Bulldogs but projecting as a guard at the next level.

31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (5-11/191)
This is an interesting spot. If Rob Gronkowski decides to retire, look for South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert as a possibility. With Malcolm Butler on his way out, Hughes could make a solid tandem with Stephon Gilmore.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (6-4/291)
If Beau Allen leaves in free agency, the Eagles are left with Destiny Vaeao and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls at DT. With Jim Schwartz's D-line rotation, they'll need more depth and competition at the position. Enter Bryan. Don't be fooled by the lack of production (four sacks in 2017), Bryan has impressive physical traits that will translate to the NFL. He's an attacking style player, the perfect fit for Schwartz's scheme. He's got a quick first step and consistently blows offensive lineman off the ball. Asking him to be a rotational piece, especially in pass rush situations, would be the ideal way to bring him along.

Movie about former Eagle's life in the works

AP Images

Movie about former Eagle's life in the works

Pretty soon, you'll be able to see Jon Dorenbos' incredible story on the big screen. 

Producer and Philly native Mike Tollin, thanks to the Eagles' Super Bowl win, is fast-tracking a movie about Dorenbos' life, according to Deadline Hollywood. 

Tollin has been involved other sports films such as Summer Catch, Radio and Coach Carter.

This movie, which will be based on a book Dorenbos is writing with Larry Platt, will be based around Dorenbos' story back to when he used his magic as a coping mechanism to deal with childhood tragedy. 

For those who don't know his story, Dorenbos was just 12 years old when his father murdered his mother. Long before he became a professional long-snapper for the Eagles, Dorenbos used magic as an escape from reality. He continues to perform magic and was a hit on America's Got Talent.

Dorenbos, 37, played 11 seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to the Saints last offseason. Upon his arrival in New Orleans, doctors found an aortic aneurysm. That ended his football career and sent him for open-heart surgery. 

Even though he wasn't a part of the roster, Dorenbos was included during the Eagles' playoff run. He was in Minnesota when the Birds won the Super Bowl, he paraded down Broad Street, and he's getting a Super Bowl ring. 

"Jon and I have been talking about this for a while, and I once told him we needed a third act, but I didn't mean nearly killing himself," Tollin told Deadline. "This is about overcoming obstacles and turning tragedies into positives and the story is so unlikely that I thought we'd need a coda to say the story was true. We have that, with Jon and the beautiful wife he just married, Annalise, in the parade with confetti falling on their heads."

Dorenbos told Deadline that going with Tollin, whom he has known for a while, was an easy decision and he sold him the book option for $1. 

There's no release date yet, but because of the recency of the Super Bowl win, the plan is to fast-track the movie. Tollin said the plan is to have the movie out by the time the Eagles are starting to defend their title in next year's playoffs. He said he's already talking to an A-list star about the project. 

"I have learned that the sooner you accept your reality, the sooner you can look at the positives in life," Dorenbos told Deadline. "My reality was that I lost both of my parents. My dad went to prison and my mom was killed. My sister and I stayed with a temporary foster family for a bit, until my aunt, my mom's sister, got custody of us. I loved magic. It was really the only time that I didn't think about all the crap, the counseling therapy, the grieving. I would sit at a table, shuffle cards and learn moves, for 10 hours at a time. As a kid, it taught me it was OK to be alone and work toward something. 

"I am a slow, pudgy white guy who never thought he would play football. I made two Pro Bowls and guess what? All I did was stay on the path and show up every day when others jumped off the path."