Ford: Why Eagles should bench Wentz vs. Ravens

Eagl12-b
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz escapes an almost-sack by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to complete a 3-yard pass in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016.

If Allen Barbre's hamstring holds up this week, and if Brandon Brooks is available on Sunday - neither of which is a certainty - then the Eagles will have a reasonable facsimile of their offensive line available in Baltimore against the Ravens.

That's assuming it is reasonable to start a game with a second-string left guard and a third-string right tackle against a team that went into Monday night against New England with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. But, reasonable or not, that's the best-case scenario for the Eagles offensive line.

Should Barbre's hamstring not respond, and should Brooks not recover from what ails him, then the Eagles would put out a line something like: Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Guy They Haven't Signed Yet.

Coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles would work out available tackles this week, just in case, because the team has now gone through reserves Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Tobin, and because original starter Lane Johnson won't be released from the league's timeout corner for another game. Pederson mentioned that tackle Dillon Gordon, an undrafted free agent who is really a converted tight end, was also on the roster, but that didn't seem to comfort him all that much.

So, that's the situation, and that's the wall that will protect the future of the franchise, the player upon whom the whole enterprise has been based from the moment Carson Wentz was taken with the second pick in the draft.

It wouldn't be a popular decision, and there are plenty of arguments against it, but there is no way Wentz should play Sunday against the Ravens. That's how bad this could be.

Poll

What discipline should Deshazor Everett face for his hit on Darren Sproles?

Oh, I know, you're Philadelphia and you're tough and football isn't for the faint of heart and, hey, what would Bednarik have done? That's all fine. Enjoy yourself. Have some more raw meat. He still shouldn't play.

This is not an emotional issue. It is a business decision made to protect the most valuable asset in the company. Wentz will not be scarred by it. In fact, that's the point. He will remain unscarred. (Chase Daniel might not be as delighted to learn of his expendability, but it's about time he earned some of that money.) If the postseason were not out of reach, things would be different, of course. But this season is irretrievably lost and there's no reason to lose the quarterback, too.

This is a decision that would have to be made above Pederson, because it doesn't reflect the coach's default mind-set, and because any important decision is made above him, anyway. Asked about providing extra protection this week - also aware that their best blocking running back (Darren Sproles) and best blocking tight end (Brent Celek) are either out or recovering from injury - Pederson was still in go-get-'em mode.

"Yeah, those are things to consider these next couple of weeks," he said. "But by no means do we want to hamper any kind of aggressiveness on offense."

He's the same guy who said earlier this season that he didn't want to see Wentz dropping back 35 or 40 times every game. In the last seven weeks, as the team has gone 1-6, the quarterback has averaged 45 attempts per game. Factor in sacks and scrambles and that's about an average of 50 pass calls per game.

Wentz is clearly a strong, hard-nosed kid. He can take a shot and doesn't seem to mind the contact. In that most recent seven-game span, he's been sacked 18 times and been hit behind the line of scrimmage after releasing the ball another 51 times. Tough or not, that's too many and, tough or not, one of these hits is going to hurt him. Maybe for a little while, maybe for a long while. With a 5-8 team that is dead in the water, with a laughable line situation, against a very aggressive defense, is it worth it?

So far this season, Wentz has attempted 498 passes. Only five quarterbacks in the league have thrown more often. The attempts almost matches the combined total for his junior and senior years in college (566). He's gotten plenty of experience in all aspects of the game and doesn't need to add the experience of knee surgery to the list.

It's true that he could injure himself walking down a flight of steps, but this is all about playing the odds, and the odds aren't good against the Baltimore Ravens with the possibility of Guy You Just Signed playing right tackle. The following week, fine, take your chances. The odds will be better. Put Johnson back in there for the Thursday night game against the Giants even if he hasn't taken a single snap in practice. Patch it together the best you can, call a lot of runs and quick slants, and hope for the best.

But not this week. Give the kid a break, and one that won't turn out to be a multiple fracture.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports