BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — In his public appearances, Doug Pederson remained stoic. On Dec. 11, just after he announced that Carson Wentz had a torn ACL and was out for the season, he was asked if his team could overcome the loss.
He emphatically said yes, it could. And he meant it.
But initially, of course there was a little bit of doubt, a little bit of self-pity. The Eagles were rolling through the season but lost the most important player on their team. They lost the NFL MVP.
There had to be at least one "Are you kidding me?" moment, right?
“You know what … maybe in here somewhere," said Pederson, tapping his chest. "But not out here. I would never do that out here. I would never do that in front of the team. I would never do that in front of [reporters].
"But, inside, you’re kind of going, ‘Dang, we’ve got this thing going.’ Look at what Oakland did a year ago … they were riding along, and Derek [Carr] went down at the end of the year. You know what I’m saying? But, even for me at that time, it didn’t take long to fire back up, quite honestly.
"We’ve got a tremendous defense, we use our running game, Nick [Foles is] a veteran quarterback. We had a lot of things going for us at the time … we just won the NFC East, we bought ourselves a ticket to the postseason, we were still in good shape."
On Monday night, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie remembered back to a phone call he had with VP of football operations Howie Roseman in the offseason. Roseman found a way to basically trade in Chase Daniel for Foles, but it meant allocating $12 million this season to the backup quarterback position. Lurie acknowledged that's a little unusual, but he agreed with the idea of bringing back Foles to back up Wentz.
Lurie called Foles a "big-time, big-game player" and Foles has looked like it in the playoffs after a somewhat rough stretch at the end of the season.
Wentz's injury and how the team recovered from it were clearly the defining moments of the 2017 season. In hindsight, the Eagles obviously still had a great chance to win without Wentz, but in December, you could understand why that might have been a tough notion to believe.
Pederson had to sell it to the team. While some guys didn't need the sales pitch, others were understandably a little mopey that Monday morning, when the team's worst fears were confirmed and it found out it was going to be without Wentz for the rest of the season.
It didn't take long for just about every player to come around, though. It started with Pederson and his veteran leaders taking control, not letting there be any time for self-pity.
Did Pederson have to sell it to himself a little bit too?
“It wasn’t a perception. That was real," he said. "That part was an easy sell for me.”