PFT 2019 storyline No. 12: Will Carson Wentz stay healthy?
December 2017. Led by second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles rocketed toward the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and Wentz had the inside track to the league MVP award.
Then came a visit to the Rams, an ill-timed head-first dive to the end zone, an unexpected ACL tear in the process, and that was that for Wentz.
But not for the Eagles, of course. Journeyman Nick Foles took the Eagles on the ultimate journey, holding (barely) the top seed in the conference, beating (barely) the Falcons in the divisional round, beating (handily) the Vikings in the NFC Championship game, and winning (somehow) the Super Bowl over the Patriots. Wentz didn’t win the regular-season MVP award, and Foles ended up being named the Super Bowl MVP.
Wentz’s recovery and rehab hovered over the 2018 offseason, keeping Wentz from starting the season, one that started sluggishly and stayed that way. Until, that is, Wentz was lost again for the balance of the season in December, Foles returned to the field, securing a playoff berth, upsetting the Bears in Chicago, and nearly stunning the Saints in New Orleans for a second consecutive berth in the NFC Championship.
Now, Foles is gone, and Wentz is supposedly healthy. But will he stay healthy? That’s the question that will determine whether the Eagles can deliver on a ceiling that has them winning another Super Bowl.
Wentz has spectacular skills. However, he has been too reckless with his body -- dating back to the preseason of his rookie year, when he went head over heels and eventually suffered a hairline rib fracture in the opener against Tampa Bay. The challenge becomes finding a balance between playing with abandon and playing with an abundance of caution, allowing him to do special things but also enabling him to keep playing.
If he can find that balance, he can stay healthy all year, and he can become the league’s MVP. If he can’t, he’s destined to be injured again, and the Eagles may end up regretting the decision to keep Wentz and to watch Foles walk away.
Especially if Foles keeps working in Jacksonville the magic he managed the last two years in Philadelphia.