As we prepare to enter an unprecedented 2020 NFL season in a little over a month, one thing is become clearer as training camp continues:
The Eagles should quarantine a quarterback.
The big news in Philadelphia as the weekend came to a close was that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, but that wasn’t the only important NFL news over the weekend. Because two starting NFL quarterbacks — Matt Stafford in Detroit and Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville — were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and will have to clear protocols before returning.
With that in mind, the Eagles can’t open themselves up to the possibility of not having a quarterback ready to play each Sunday during the season. What if Carson Wentz contracts the virus? Worse, what if the coronavirus spreads through the quarterback room? It’s one thing to lose a running back or an offensive lineman or even a head coach. But every team needs a quarterback to be competitive.
Every team needs a plan.
Earlier in the offseason, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians was on Chris Long’s Green Light podcast and said he might quarantine a quarterback. Pederson in June said it’s something they would consider.
On Monday, I asked Pederson if he had given any more thought to the possibility of doing that.
It's unfortunate that that happens,” Pederson said on a Zoom call. “I think we know that these things are going to happen probably throughout the course of the season.
“If it happens, and you hope it happens early enough to where you don't get to the regular season, but conversations that are ongoing still with my staff and the offensive guys on staff, Press [Taylor] and Rich [Scangarello], Marty [Mornhinweg], those guys, and haven't decided anything yet on that, obviously, but it is something to consider as we move forward.
The Eagles should quarantine a quarterback as an insurance policy and the obvious choice is Nate Sudfeld.
Wentz is the starter and needs practice time. Hopefully for the Eagles, Wentz stays healthy and is able to play an entire season. If that happens, he’ll need to be game planning each week for the upcoming opponent and getting in reps with the first-string offense. And third-string quarterback Jalen Hurts needs to be at practice and in the quarterback room too. As a rookie, the 2nd-round pick is playing catch-up after an unusual offseason. In-person practices and meeting time are both really important for him.
They won’t be as important for Sudfeld, who is entering his fourth season with the Eagles and fourth season in Pederson’s offense.
Sudfeld, 26, hasn’t played much in the NFL. He has attempted just 25 career passes. But he’s the Eagles’ backup quarterback for this upcoming season and there’s a good chance he’s going to have to play at some point.
What I’m proposing is that the Eagles allow Sudfeld to practice and participate normally at training camp for now but remove him and begin quarantining him two weeks before the season. He would still be able to participate virtually in the meeting rooms and while he’d miss practice time, he’d still be able to work out and stay in shape on his own.
The phrase “quarantine” might be a little too strong. Really, what I’m proposing here is that the Eagles take extra precautions with Sudfeld and don’t expose him any more than they have to.
Will all that guarantee that he doesn’t contract the virus? No, it won’t. But it will minimize the chance and give the Eagles an insurance policy at the most important position in the sport.
If this 2020 season happens, players are going to test positive. Coaches are going to test positive. Guys are going to miss games.
What the Eagles absolutely can’t afford is to go into any Sunday without a legitimate quarterback and expect to have a chance to win. The best way to avoid that scenario is to exercise extreme caution with their backup and hope it was all for naught.
Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.