So, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback missed the stretch drive and the playoffs for the second year in a row, this time because of a stress fracture to a vertebra, which suddenly cropped up in a scan taken a few days after the Eagles’ loss at Dallas on Dec. 9.
Yet we still don’t have a clear picture of how and when this injury happened, and we might not get one. Basically, we are being told that everything will be fine, and that everyone did the right thing, and that we should just trust the Eagles’ process.
Carson Wentz spoke with reporters Monday, the day after the season ended in a 20-14 divisional round playoff loss at New Orleans. These were Wentz’s first comments since the injury. Wentz called the stress fracture “something that developed over time,” but he wouldn’t go into any specifics.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spoke with reporters Tuesday, the first time he has spoken since the Wentz injury.
Did the Eagles – whose medical staff was involved in a number of puzzling, protracted injury situations this season – handle Wentz’s stress fracture competently and forthrightly? Wentz was on the official injury report with a back problem for two weeks following the first Giants game, on Oct. 11. Then he wasn’t.
In three of Wentz’s final four appearances, his completion percentage was below his season average of 69.6. He threw for six touchdowns and four interceptions in that span, vs. 21 and seven for the season. He ran 11 times for minus-3 yards, vs. 34 carries and 93 yards for the season. His throwing motion did not look as smooth and comfortable as usual.
“Carson talked about the injury [Monday] and coach [Doug] Pederson has talked about it, as well. I kind of stand by what they said,” Roseman said. “When we talk about injuries, injuries are of a personal nature. I don’t want to get involved in timetables or going backwards about it. We feel very good about where Carson’s going to be and having a full offseason, and we’re excited for him to have that.”
Wentz never went on injured reserve, yet he was inactive for the final three regular-season games and two playoff games. At one point, Pederson referenced a three-month timetable for full healing, but a source with knowledge of the situation later said that the scan taken after the Dallas game showed a fracture that was already healing – so how far away was Wentz from being able to play when the Eagles’ season ended?
Wentz said only that the consensus of medical opinion was that there was “risk involved” in his continuing to play in December, that it “wasn’t the best idea to play.”
Did Wentz undergo scans before the one in December that revealed the stress fracture? Why only two weeks on the injury report?
Roseman didn’t want to talk about any of that.
“Everything we did complied with the NFL rules,” Roseman said.
Tuesday, in discussing Wentz’s up-and-down season, Pederson noted that Wentz had a full, healthy offseason of work with his teammates in 2017, something he did not have while rehabbing ACL and LCL injuries in 2018. Pederson’s implication was that Wentz will be OK when the team reconvenes, and that he will benefit from being able to work with teammates without last year’s restrictions.
Pederson said that in 2017, Wentz “was able to go through OTAs and gather that timing and rhythm, everything that led into … the MVP-type season that he was having in 2017 before the injury. Obviously, fast-forward to last offseason, he didn’t have that.”
Pederson said this was especially important in terms of a quarterback’s work with running backs and receivers.
“There’s a timing, there’s a relationship that you’ve got to have, and when you miss that time, it will affect the overall big picture. …That time lost was what he had to make up during the season, which was extremely hard to do," he said.
Roseman was asked Tuesday how he views Wentz going forward, after two years of missed crunch time. He and Pederson affirmed that Wentz is the Eagles’ quarterback. Roseman wouldn’t discuss whether the team will attempt to sign Wentz to a long-term deal this offseason.
Roseman said he isn’t worried about injuries becoming a pattern for Wentz, but he also talked about the importance of talented depth at that position – a subject to keep an eye on this offseason, with Nick Foles expected to depart.