The buzz inside the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex is already palpable this week. It’s the kind of buzz that comes with the news that the franchise quarterback is ready to go.
That feeling inside the building in the two days since the announcement is pretty much the same feeling outside it. Forget the other injuries and holes on the roster, there’s just a ton of energy around the return of No. 11.
So much so that the Eagles lost a tough game Sunday … and you couldn’t even tell. It really didn’t even seem like it mattered.
This has to be the happiest #Eagles fans have ever been the day after a loss.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) September 17, 2018
A few players already told me there was a similar sense inside the locker room. Even though the Eagles were disappointed about losing a game, the optimism was already winning out just the day after the 27-21 loss in Tampa.
It’s almost the complete opposite of the feeling last Dec. 10 when Wentz went down with the torn ACL and LCL. In that game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Eagles actually clinched the NFC East but it didn’t feel like it. Eventually, the Birds snapped out of their misery and regrouped in time for the playoff run, but it was a long plane ride home back to Philly.
That’s the kind of juice Wentz brings to the city, inside and outside of the locker room. Win, but lose him, and everyone’s down. Lose, but get him back, who cares about the loss?
And now that we know Wentz will make his 2018 debut, it’s like the entire locker room, the entire city is re-energized.
“Get that energy back, get that swagger back,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “We know what kind of a player he is, more of a leader in the locker room for us. When he’s out there doing his job, it just energizes the whole team.”
There are some obvious questions about what kind of player Wentz will be in his return after a 9½-month wait. Even Doug Pederson admitted there will probably be some rust. Johnson disagrees; he expects Wentz to hit the ground running.
That’s the type of optimism that follows this guy around.
Toward the end of last season, the Eagles’ identity as a team became centered around the idea of being the underdogs and that didn’t happen until they lost Wentz for the season and folks started counting them out. But before that, the team’s identity was Wentz. He was the reason they got off to such a hot start. His swagger rubbed off on the entire team.
Jason Kelce was asked if he expected the Linc to have more juice this week because of Wentz’s return. The veteran center said the Linc is always buzzing.
But it might be just a little different in the stadium Sunday.
It certainly is everywhere else in the city this week.