Nick Foles

A look back at Carson Wentz’s 9-month road to recovery

A look back at Carson Wentz’s 9-month road to recovery

We’ve all been waiting for a long time to see Carson Wentz take the field again and it’s finally happening. 

The Eagles’ franchise quarterback will start his first game in over nine months on Sunday, when the Eagles host the Colts in Week 3. 

How much time will have passed between starts for Wentz? 

• 288 days

• or 41 weeks and a day 

• or 6,912 hours

• or 414,695 minutes  

• or 24,881,700 seconds 

Any way you slice it, it’s been a long time coming. The Eagles are thrilled to get their starting quarterback back in Week 3, but let’s take a look back at all the milestones of his recovery: 

•••

Dec. 10 — In the third quarter against the Rams, Wentz tears his ACL and LCL trying to dive into the end zone. He stays in the game and delivers a touchdown throw to Alshon Jeffery on the next play, but then exits. The Eagles win the game and clinch the NFC East, but it didn’t feel like it. Doug Pederson announces the next morning that Wentz is done for the season after tearing his ACL.

Dec. 13 — A few days later, Pittsburgh-based Dr. James Bradley performs surgery to repair Wentz’s ACL and LCL, but we only know about the ACL at this point. Still loopy from the anesthesia from surgery, Wentz uses FaceTime to talk to his fellow QBs back at the NovaCare Complex. 

Dec. 16 — His season is over, but Wentz gets named to his first Pro Bowl.

Dec. 18 — They couldn’t keep him away. He’s still more than nine months away from playing, but Wentz is back in the meeting room.

Jan. 23 — The Eagles win the NFC Championship Game and they use a play Wentz brought with him from North Dakota State.

Jan. 26 — Wentz shows up without a cane at Eagles practice. Later in the day, he reveals he also tore his LCL, but says his goal is to return for Week 1.

Feb. 4 — The Eagles win Super Bowl LII and Nick Foles is named MVP. 

March 27 — At the owners' meetings in Orlando, Florida, Pederson is “very pleased” with  Wentz’s rehab, but won’t give a timetable for return.

April 17 — Wentz says he’s “happy” with his progress and has begun the “running progression” portion of rehab.

May 22 — Surprise! Wentz participates in Eagles OTAs. He’s not a full participant, but he does individual drills for the first time since the surgery.

June 6 — During the last round of voluntary OTAs, Wentz begins takes 7-on-7 reps.

June 14 — As players break for the summer, Wentz says he’ll be around the facility to focus on his rehab. Like Sixers superstar Joel Embiid, Wentz says he’s trusting the process.

July 15 — Wedding day! Wentz marries girlfriend Maddie Oberg, whom he credits for helping him a ton and standing by his side during rehab.

July 26 — On the first practice of training camp, Wentz participates in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since the surgery.

July 27 — On the second day of training camp, Wentz works with the first-team offense in 7-on-7s.

July 28 — On the third day of training camp, Wentz works with the first-team offense in 11-on-11s, the closest thing that comes to game action in practice. There’s one hold-your-breath moment, where a defensive tackle brushed against Wentz’s left leg, but he’s fine.

July 29 — The Eagles and Pederson hold Wentz out of 11-on-11 drills. It’s a part of the secretive plan, according to the head coach. 

Aug. 14 — After saying all along that his goal was to be ready for Week 1, Wentz says “it’s going to be close.”

Aug. 19 — After a few weeks of being held out of team drills, Wentz returns to 11-on-11s.

Aug. 23 — Before the third preseason game in Cleveland, Wentz put in a long and tough workout in pregame. It’s reminiscent of his workout before the third preseason game in 2016.

Aug. 31 — Wentz’s surgeon, speaking to NBC Sports Philadelphia, urges caution.

Sept. 3 — Foles is named the Eagles’ Week 1 starter. Despite the disappointment, Wentz keeps an upbeat attitude during the week.

Sept. 17 — Pederson announces that Wentz has been cleared for contact (the final hurdle) and will start against the Colts in Week 3.

Sept. 23 — Week 3 against the Colts at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz’s first action of the 2018 season. 

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Missing key players, Eagles just didn’t have enough firepower vs. Buccaneers

Missing key players, Eagles just didn’t have enough firepower vs. Buccaneers

TAMPA — In a pirate-themed stadium, with cannons all over place, the Eagles simply didn’t have enough firepower. 

They entered Sunday afternoon’s 27-21 loss to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium without Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery and Darren Sproles. Then Mike Wallace and Jason Peters left early, and Jay Ajayi missed a significant portion of the afternoon. 

The Eagles brought a cap gun to a cannon fight.

While Ryan Fitzpatrick was throwing to DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Nick Foles was throwing to Josh Perkins, Kamar Aiken and Shelton Gibson. 

See the problem? 

“Don’t get me wrong, we have some phenomenal players who are hurt,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who had 11 catches for 94 yards. “But at the same time, there are expectations for the guys who are on the field. We expect whoever’s on the field to make plays.”

The Eagles love their next man up philosophy. It worked out for them on their way to a parade down Broad Street after the 2017 season. But Kamar Aiken ain’t Alshon Jeffery. Shelton Gibson ain’t Mike Wallace. 

And Nick Foles — even though he won the Super Bowl MVP — still ain’t Carson Wentz. 

There is a hint at some positive news regarding Wentz, however. Head coach Doug Pederson said he’ll talk about Wentz and give an update (which could possibly be news about getting cleared for contact) on Monday (see storyGetting Wentz back will help, but it won’t necessarily make up for the other skill guys who are down. 

“We can’t expect him to just put his Superman cape on and be his old self,” Ertz said. “He’s going to be rusty. But we got a lot of good players on this team.”

While Pederson admitted that losing key players, especially losing guys during games, affects the game plan, he pointed at other reasons for the Eagles’ early offensive struggles. The Eagles had penalties and negative plays that put them in some really tough situations in the first half: 

3rd-and-14

3rd-and-41 

3rd-and-8

3rd-and-7

3rd-and-11

3rd-and-7

It’s hard to win like that. But it also becomes a chicken-or-the-egg sort of situation. Sure, penalties and bad execution hurt, but it’s hard to imagine that having a guy like Jeffery or Wallace or Sproles out there wouldn’t help the Eagles get into more manageable situations. 

Foles actually ended up with pretty good numbers. He completed 35 of 48 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown, but the offense just lacked explosiveness minus the one play when Nelson Agholor got a short pass and ran for a big gain. 

It just seems like missing these key offensive players isn’t doing Foles any favors. 

“It’s my job. I’ve been there,” Foles said. “I’ve played this game a long time. You’re not always going to have everyone healthy. That’s just part of this game. I don’t focus on that. Whoever’s in that huddle, I trust them.”

Foles can trust them. Pederson can trust them. And those players can trust themselves and even play well at times. 

But until those key playmakers return, this Eagles’ offense just won’t be the same. 

The offense will be explosive again this season, it just needs its firepower back. 

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Eagles at Buccaneers: 10 observations from clunker in Tampa

Eagles at Buccaneers: 10 observations from clunker in Tampa

BOX SCORE

TAMPA — What are the Eagles’ options at wide receiver? Why was Tampa’s second 75-yard TD worse than the first? Where was the defensive line?

Here are my 10 observations off the Eagles’ 27-21 loss Sunday to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

1. The DeSean Jackson 75-yard TD to open the game was bad. The 75-yard TD in the second quarter to tight end O.J. Howard was worse. Because the offense had finally put together a drive and tied the game, and the Eagles needed the defense to hold right there, but they just gave it right back, Ronald Darby whiffing on a tackle that would have limited the gain to 20 yards, and Malcolm Jenkins not being able to fight down the field through a Chris Godwin block. First time in Eagles history they’ve allowed two 75-yard TDs in a first half. Embarrassing. The Eagles finally got some things going late in the game and made it close, but it’s just about impossible to come back from allowing two 75-yard TDs in a half, and in the end, the Eagles never recovered from those two big plays.

2. I know everybody’s going to be yelling for the Eagles to go out and get Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Plaxico, Joey Galloway, T.O. or whatever other washed-up aging one-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is available. But I don’t see it. Alshon Jeffery will be back either for the Colts or Titans. The Eagles don’t need the headaches those guys will bring. They don’t have the cap space. It takes a month just to acclimate a new receiver to the offense, coaches, playbook, quarterbacks. At this point, the Eagles are best to stick with what they have until Jeffery does return.

3. I did like the effort and the fight the Eagles showed after falling behind by 20 points. They battled on both sides of the ball and made things interesting. They didn’t always play well or play smart, but they never stopped playing hard. That’s something you always look for when a team is getting embarrassed. How do they respond? Do they just give up and say, “It’s not our day?” Or do they forget the score and keep fighting?

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 27 for 33 for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He’s 35, with his seventh team and his fifth in the last seven years. I like the Eagles’ secondary, but it’s inexcusable to let Ryan Fitzpatrick do this to you. Jalen Mills is a talented kid but needs to learn not to bite on the double move. Darby still needs to be more consistent. Even Jenkins had a tough day Sunday. You just can’t let Ryan Fitzpatrick do this to you.

5. Similarly, this was a game I thought the Eagles’ defensive line would dominate. Just take over. This pass rush against a 35-year-old journeyman quarterback was virtually non-existent. Other than an early Fletcher Cox sack, the Eagles got very little pressure, and when you give Fitzpatrick time, he’s really good. The D-line is the heart of this team, and they have to be better.

6. I’ll never understand Nick Foles. Ever. He can shred Bill Belichick’s defense with 100 million people watching on the greatest stage in sports or he can look like he’s never played the game before. And then he can have games like Sunday where he’s both those guys. I can’t figure him out and I never will. His final numbers look good (35 for 48, 334 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 99.5 passer rating), but honestly, he never gave the team a chance to win. Carson needs to get back soon.

7. How tough is Nelson Agholor? He got jacked up when Foles floated that ill-fated fourth-down pass down near the goal line in the fourth quarter — the play where Corey Clement also got hurt — and then he got jacked up on a punt return a couple minutes later, and he doesn’t leave the field and not only makes a miraculous touchdown catch soon after, he leaps over a photographer set up near the end zone. Talented dude. Tough dude. So glad they didn’t give up on him after 2016.

8. It’s impossible to watch DeSean Jackson run around making plays without just wondering … “Chip, what the HELL where you thinking?” Really sad.

9. Clement is really, really good. Like really good. He doesn’t get a ton of chances, but he’s always making plays. He was 6 for 30 with a 15-yard TD and 5 for 55 receiving Sunday. That’s 85 yards on 11 touches. He just makes good things happen every time he touches the football. And he’s got a real nose for the end zone. If Jay Ajayi isn’t here next year, I’m fine with Clement as the guy.

10. The Eagles were bound to lose a game sooner or later. They were 18-2 in their last 20 games they tried to win. They ran into a hot QB and they had enough breakdowns and penalties on both sides of the ball to lose an ugly one Sunday. Now the challenge is how they respond. This is a different team than the one that won the Super Bowl. A lot of new guys. The good news is the Redskins lost at home and either the Cowboys or Giants will be 0-2 later tonight. The Eagles lost an ugly one Sunday in Tampa, but this is still a good team. They’re back home Sunday for the Colts, and I’ll be surprised if they don’t bounce back in a big way.

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