Obviously, no one wanted Carson Wentz to get hurt last season. No one wanted the franchise quarterback to go through 9½ months of grueling rehab. And, of course, it would have been much better if he stayed healthy and got to play in the playoffs and in the first two games of the 2018 season.
But there’s a bright side to all of this.
Going through this rehab is going to make Wentz an even better player. And I’m not talking about physically.
Sure, during the past nine-plus months, Wentz’s upper body has gotten stronger, but I think the area in which he’s going to improve even more is his ability to use what he’s learned on the sideline and in the film room and apply it on the football field.
Here’s what head coach Doug Pederson said about that possibility:
I think it can only help him. It can sort of enhance his game a little bit.
I think sometimes sort of big picture you get a chance to see everything and take everything in from that view. It's a different view and it's a positive view.
So, that's why moving forward, I'm excited to see where he is at in that progression of his game.
Think about it. Wentz hasn’t been able to play in a football game since Dec. 10, so when he wasn’t working on his physical rehabilitation, he was either watching film or trying to help Nick Foles get ready to play. That’s a lot of hours logged in the film room or just thinking about football without being able to play.
Maybe for some players, that wouldn’t account to much, but it’s not like Wentz is watching film and then forgetting everything he sees. His coaches — Pederson included — have marveled at his recall. Pederson back in 2016 even said he thought Wentz had a photographic memory.
"We can obviously see it on the pictures, on the tablets on the sideline, and then when he goes back out there, he can remember that defense,” Pederson said in the fall of 2016. ”If he sees that front or that coverage, that look again, he knows exactly what's coming defensively, and he can put us in the right play."
Wentz is just 25 years old, but he was already way ahead of schedule as a cerebral quarterback last year. It’s scary to think about what this extended time in the film room could do for his game. His ability to see things pre-snap shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember in his rookie season when he was being compared to every great quarterback to ever play the game. This is the part of his ability that was the most Peyton Manning-like.
Even Wentz thinks getting to view the game from a different perspective will help:
Without a doubt. You see things. I know last year when I did get hurt and threw the headset on, you almost see things as a coach. You see things from a different perspective.
But then also, to not take it for granted. I think when you get caught up in the middle of a season, you’re just going through it, you can take the opportunities for granted. I’ll always remind everybody, myself included, to never take a play for granted or take a game for granted because you never know when it’s going to be your last.
This is the most significant injury of Wentz’s football career, but it wasn’t his first. In college and even in high school, he learned how to rehab and get better even when he wasn’t able to play.
We might see some rust from Wentz on Sunday. We might see a guy who looks like he hasn’t played football in over nine months. What I do know is we won’t have to worry about the mental side of the game. In fact, he’s probably even farther along than the last time we saw him.