The reigning Super Bowl Champions are about to get a huge boost on offense, but is it the right decision?
A day after losing on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-21, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that quarterback Carson Wentz has been medically cleared and will start in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz took the NFL by storm last season, leading the Eagles to an 11-2 record, while tossing for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, before tearing his ACL and LCL. Sunday, will be Wentz’s first time playing since suffering the season ending injury.
“He’s going to be prepared mentally, now it’s a matter of the physical part taking over,” Pederson said to the media on Monday. “In my mind, he’s cleared, he’s cleared. No need to hold back.”
Pederson’s decision to name Wentz the starter this early in the week shows confidence, but there also seems to be a sense of panic in Philadelphia, and there shouldn’t be. More importantly, there is no reason for the Eagles to rush Wentz back onto the field.
Without Wentz, Philadelphia’s offense has been inconsistent. Nevertheless, Nick Foles has done more than enough as a replacement. In eight total games as the starter, Foles is 6-2. That includes a meaningless Week 17 loss at the end of the last season, against the Dallas Cowboys, before going on a historic Super Bowl run.
In the postseason, Foles completed nearly 73% of his passes, while throwing for 971 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception. As proven, Foles is more than capable to keep the Eagles afloat, while Philadelphia works Wentz back into the offense.
Philadelphia’s next two games come against inferior opponents, who are both 1-1. The Colts and Tennessee Titans are below average teams against the pass. They are ranked 17th and 18th in passing yards per game. Both are winnable games for Foles and it gives Wentz two extra weeks to prepare.
Furthermore, throwing Wentz back into action at this moment isn’t ideal because his supporting cast is banged up. Veteran wideout Mike Wallace suffered a fractured fibula against the Buccaneers and is expected to miss several weeks. The Eagles were already without Alshon Jeffery, who is dealing with a shoulder injury and Mack Hollins was recently put on IR with a groin injury.
At running back, Darren Sproles also missed last week’s game against the Buccaneers and Jay Ajayi suffered a back injury, but did return. If the Eagles were healthy, putting Wentz back on the field would be an easier decision. But, because they are so beat up, Wentz will be expected to do much more.
Looking at the division in its entirety, the Eagles are still the best team and shouldn’t feel any pressure from Washington, Dallas or New York. The Redskins (1-1) beat a terrible Cardinals team in Week 1, and followed it up with a dud against the Colts. Dallas (1-1) defeated New York last week but, still look inept on offense. Lastly, the Giants (0-2) are in for a long season if they can’t fix their offensive line.
No team in the division has proven to be a threat to Philadelphia early in 2018, which is another reason to ease Wentz back onto the field.
The decision to start Wentz this quickly after being cleared is a risk the Eagles shouldn’t be willing to take. Remember, it’s only Week 3. They should be confident in Foles and realize there is no pressure to turn things around so quickly.