Carson Wentz has done some of his best work behind closed doors, far from any TV cameras or adoring fans, with just a trainer or two and maybe a few teammates in the room.
While Nick Foles has enjoyed the banquet circuit these last few months and all that comes with being Super Bowl MVP — national TV appearances, a book deal, life as a celebrity — the guy he replaced has had a pretty good offseason himself.
It’s just that nobody has seen it.
For Wentz to do what he did at these spring minicamps — compete in a variety of individual and team drills and look comfortable, fluid and confident six months after hobbling off the field at LA Coliseum with a towel covering his head — speaks volumes about this kid.
We know he’s a competitor on the field. We’ve all seen it. But rehabbing a shredded knee is different.
Throw a touchdown pass, and you instantaneously hear 66,000 fans roaring their approval.
Extend your range of motion by one degree and you get a trainer telling you, “Good. Now do it again 50 times.”
We can talk all day and night about how Wentz has attacked his rehab, but now we’re seeing the fruits of his labor. And it’s impressive.
It takes a certain type of motivation and determination to keep grinding away when nobody is cheering you on and the moments of true progress are fleeting and measured in millimeters.
We saw Wentz out there at practice taking five-step drops, firing dimes to Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor in 7-on-7s and sprinting the length of the field under the midday sun.
What we never saw is what it took to get there.
It’s been about six months since Wentz tore his ACL and LCL.
That means probably about 150 days where Wentz has driven from his home in South Jersey to the NovaCare Complex at dawn and pushed himself through hour after hour of drills to regain his strength, his mobility, his speed, his endurance, his agility.
And then he’s back the next day to do it all over again.
We’re so used to athletes getting hurt and rehabbing it’s easy to forget just how grueling it is, and the fact that Wentz has made the progress he has since Dec. 10 is astonishing.
He’s taken that same ferocious competitive spirit we saw the first 29 games of his career and used it to fuel his rehab.
A month ago, there was no reason to think he’d be cleared to do anything at OTAs and there he was running, throwing, competing and looking every bit like the Carson Wentz we watched evolve into a legit MVP candidate the first 14 weeks of last season.
And if that doesn’t mean he’s ahead of schedule, I don’t know what does.
At this point, I’d be shocked if Wentz isn’t the Eagles’ opening day quarterback in 2018.
There’s always the possibility of a setback. Maybe he doesn’t get completely cleared quite in time to face the Falcons on Sept. 6. But the progress he’s made already has to make every Eagles fan feel confident and encouraged.
Since he got hurt, Wentz has put the same remarkable level of energy and effort into rehabbing that he put into preparing to play football every Sunday.
Think about Wentz’s 2017 season.
Everything was going perfectly. The Eagles were on top of the football world. He was putting up numbers that were unprecedented for anybody other than Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Before Foles was on anybody’s mind, the Eagles were a Super Bowl contender.
And then disaster.
We’ve all seen Wentz when things are going well. He blossomed into a superstar in front of our eyes.
But you really learn the most about a person when things aren’t going well. When they face adversity. What are they really about? How will they respond?
Wentz has definitively answered those questions.
We didn’t see Wentz in those long, lonely, arduous rehab sessions, but we can see the results.
While Foles was out winning the Super Bowl and taking all the bows, Wentz was doing everything humanly possible to make sure he’s ready to lead the Eagles to another Super Bowl title this year.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m not betting against him.