Wentz Done for Season, Pederson Says Nothing Changes
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
Forgive the nod to Charles Dickens but that's Philadelphia on this Monday, a day after fate handed the city the NFC East title and a clear path to the top seed in the conference yet took away its quarterback, superstar MVP candidate Carson Wentz.
Much of Sunday night and Monday morning for Eagles fans was spent speeding through the Kübler-Ross model of grief: a quick bout of denial, followed by anger for a city that has been indoctrinated to believe it doesn't deserve nice things.
Things were halted at bargaining, however, when news broke that there was hope that Wentz didn't suffer a complete tear of the ACL in his left knee in advance of a Monday morning MRI.
A partial tear could mean a scope, some rehab and Wentz back for the first round of the playoffs as noted by former Eagles' star Brian Westbrook on Twitter.
The reality, though, is that manual checks of ACL injuries tend to be very reliable as noted by Dr. David Chao, a former team physician for the then-San Diego Chargers.
By noon when Doug Pederson checked his watch to make sure he greeted the media properly (the attention to detail of good morning versus good afternoon), it was time for depression.
The coach confirmed Wentz was officially done for the season and moving on to upcoming surgery and the typical six- to nine-month rehabilitation process, although Pederson demurred when talking about timetables.
The only thing left now is acceptance and the realization that the Eagles could still make a run at Super Bowl LII thanks to a relatively easy final three weeks of the schedule against a dead-in-the-water Giants team, an underachieving Oakland bunch, and a mediocre Dallas club.
The Eagles are 6-0 at Lincoln Financial Field and have won those games by an average of 19.7 points per contest. Meanwhile, Nick Foles is one of the better and more accomplished backup quarterbacks in the league, something he proved in Los Angeles by helping bring Philadelphia back in the fourth quarter, his seventh career game-winning drive and sixth career fourth-quarter comeback.
Pederson has played the right cards for the majority of this season and that trend continued on Monday. The coach was as upbeat as ever despite losing his franchise quarterback, flashing confidence, leadership and poise while sending a strong message to a locker room that also lost its on-field leader.
"Heck yeah," the coach answered when asked if his team could overcome this. "The reason we went out and got Nick Foles is for reasons like this, situations like this.
"... We can overcome this. We have survived a number of injuries before."
Pederson insisted nothing changes with his offense even when pressed and Foles, a veteran who has been with Pederson during his first stint in Philadelphia as well as Kansas City, will be given the same leash as Wents.
"I'm going to continue to be aggressive," Pederson insisted. "I'm going to lead this football team. ...“If there’s ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, this might be the time.”
And to the fans who believe their Super Bowl dreams went down with Wentz, Pederson put on his preacher's hat:
"To the fans, you can't lose faith," he said. "This has been a resilient football team all year. There's still a lot to play for."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen