There’s a vocal group of Eagles fans who don’t think Carson Wentz should play against the Falcons.
They haven’t seen his X-rays. They haven’t measured his range of motion. They haven’t watched him spend endless hours in the trainer’s room. They haven't seen him run or even practice.
But they just know.
They’re good Eagles fans, and they only want what’s best for Wentz and the Eagles.
They feel like nine months from Dec. 10 to Sept. 6 just isn’t enough time to rehab torn left anterior cruciate and lateral cruciate ligaments and meniscus damage.
Their belief is that the Eagles should let Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles start the first few games of the season and give Wentz a few extra weeks to get ready.
“There’s no reason to rush him,” one tweeted to me over the weekend.
“He. Isn’t. Healed,” another posted, using the popular technique of turning each word into a sentence for emphasis. (I. Hate. This.)
“I hope he doesn’t (start). Give him all the time he needs to be completely healed,” another tweeted.
I'm all for being cautious. I'm all for being smart.
But here’s the thing.
I'm pretty sure Wentz will be ready. And if he is, he has to play.
The Eagles won’t let Wentz start the opener if he’s not fully cleared. But if his knee is structurally sound and strong enough to withstand the rigors of NFL football?
Then there's zero reason not to play him.
I’m the world’s biggest Nick Foles guy, and I have been since 2012. One of the biggest thrills of my career was writing his name on my official Super Bowl LII MVP ballot as soon as Tom Brady’s last desperation heave fell incomplete.
But this is Wentz’s team. Nobody else’s.
The notion that the Eagles are rushing him? It’s just not the case. The trainers, doctors and coaches all got together and formulated a careful program to bring Wentz along.
When he was ready to run, he ran. When he was ready to throw. He threw. When he was ready to practice, he practiced. When he was ready to go full-team, he did that Friday morning.
And when he’s ready to play, he’ll play.
The notion that the Eagles need to protect him because “what if he gets hit?”
Well, he will get hit.
Behind this offensive line, hopefully, not very often. But the nature of the position is that you’re going to get hit. But when he does, he won’t be at any greater risk to get hurt than if he hadn’t torn up his knee.
Because the Eagles aren’t stupid. And it would make no sense to play him if he’s not ready. But it would also make no sense to not play him if he is ready.
What’s the point?
This vague notion of "give him a few extra weeks because maybe he needs it to get ready" has no basis in science or medicine.
You're either cleared or you're not cleared. You've either completed your rehab or you haven't.
If Foles starts two or three games just because the Eagles want to be cautious with a quarterback who’s been medically cleared and is ready to go, what happens if he plays at the same level he played at in the playoffs? Then you have a situation. It becomes a little tricky making a change if Foles continues playing off the charts.
But what if Foles plays poorly? Now maybe you’ve dug yourself a hole playing your backup quarterback while the de facto 2017 MVP was standing on the sidelines with a clipboard completely healthy.
It’s only been a few days, but Wentz looks tremendous. He’s nimble on his feet, his mechanics look great, he’s throwing the ball beautifully.
We still have 5½ weeks before opening day, and it’s growing more difficult every day to imagine a scenario where Wentz isn’t behind center Sept. 6 at 8:20 p.m. at the Linc against the Falcons.
He’s going to be the Eagles’ quarterback for the next decade, and I believe he’s going to be the best quarterback in the NFL over those next 10 years.
He’s going to give Eagles fans a generation of memories all his own. Unforgettable throws. Historic moments. Remarkable achievements.
And there’s just no reason to put all that off one extra week, one extra game, one extra snap.