It did not take long for the narrative to develop in Philadelphia: With Carson Wentz on the mend again, this time with a fractured vertebra, Nick Foles can transcend NFL folklore and become something beyond human. He can take the Eagles from their current ditch (generous projections have them at an 18% chance of making the playoffs, though ESPN’s FPI is has them below 10%), traverse the team’s remaining schedule that includes the Rams and Texans and land the suddenly red-hot defending Super Bowl champions into a postseason wild-card spot.
You know the rest of the story from there. The Eagles roll into some opposing city, one of their fans decks a horse, another tortures some well-meaning Midwesterner on the way to his or her seat and Foles uncorks a flea-flicker to Golden Tate for a game-winning touchdown.
That scenario is unlikely, but more fun to think about than the alternative: that Wentz may not finish a season for the second year in a row, that there may be something to monitor or work around during his offseason program, that even though they say he doesn’t need surgery, there will obviously be a concern about re-aggravation moving forward.
Should this end up being another significant issue for Wentz, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll have a difficult time again digesting the fact that he’s sidelined for a pivotal portion of his team’s season. He does not get nearly enough credit for pinballing through last offseason the way he did, patiently waiting until Week 3 to return and throwing 13 touchdowns to two interceptions over his first six games in 2018.
I think about this passage from a Philadelphia Inquirer story about his comeback often: He thanked God for the victory, but he also asked for strength to fight any jealousy he may have toward his teammates. Wentz soaked in the atmosphere and knew he wanted to experience what Nick Foles, as the starting quarterback, just had, but he didn't make any guarantees.
Such an essential part of embodying the franchise quarterback role is being lucky enough—healthy enough—to lead a team during those defining moments. While assuming that Foles will go on a similar run is getting way ahead of ourselves, it isn’t a stretch to imagine how disappointed Wentz will be if he doesn’t have a hand in the Eagles’ final three games this season.
After all, the only way to truly exorcise the unimaginable bittersweetness of the Super Bowl LII victory would be to do something even more surprising.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr on how the incredible ending to the Chargers’ 29–29 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football overshadows a poor night for the officiating crew. ... Kalyn Kahler reports that Kyler Murray may be looking to the NFL after all. … The draft in Vegas and the San Diego Raiders: Breer at the Owners’ Meetings. … Andy Benoit previews each and every Week 15 game.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Burn your head coaching hot list, here are a few out-of-the-box candidates we wish owners would talk to. … Patrick Mahomes and the no-look pass: A love story. … Robert Klemko on Aaron Donald, from SI’s Sportsman of the Year issue.
1. Amari Cooper is under the impression that Jon Gruden had nothing to do with trading him.
2. Cam Newton was not happy about the Saints mailing him a broom last year. Swept, get it?
3. A crazy (but not so crazy) thought: Could the Packers be forced to hire Joe Philbin if they make the playoffs?
4. Ahead of a critical Patriots matchup, the Steelers are tinkering with their defense.
5. Richard Sherman can’t un-insert himself from a relentless string of Seahawks bashing.
6. Area cousin blamed in Washington Instagram bashing scandal.
7. A Colts fan of The Wire fame admires from behind bars.
An important moment from SI’s Sportsperson of the Year awards, which deserves to be watched again.
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