The Eagles have one of the most lethal quarterback rooms in the NFL, there’s no denying that. It’s so strong in fact, that even though Carson Wentz, a third-year quarterback coming off of a 33 touchdown season that was ripped from under his feet in week 14, may not be ready to return to the field by week one, there’s a sense of serenity in Philadelphia. A Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles returns to the City of Brotherly Love and will be the backup to Wentz once again, providing the Eagles with the ultimate insurance policy. There are very few franchises that if in this situation, would not have a fanbase in complete panic mode. However, that doesn’t mean the position is immune from competition.
Nick Foles has expressed his desire to regain his status a starter in the NFL and who could blame him? After such a miraculous postseason in which he played his finest football yet, Foles won the hearts of millions. If he does fill in for Wentz, even if just for a game or two, his value around the league will be sky-high, especially considering how many young quarterbacks could use that breathing space to marinate behind an established veteran. The Eagles do have a potential ‘out’ in the contract given to Foles at the end of next season…which would then open the door for the third quarterback on the roster to step up and push on to the next stage of his career. The question is, who is that going to be?
At first glance, Indiana product Nate Sudfeld appears to be the perfect fit. Having been poached from the Redskins practice squad prior to their week one clash last season, Sudfeld has since spent an entire year learning from both Wentz and Foles, showing his progress in a week 17 loss to the Cowboys.
Due to the uncertainty of the current quarterback picture, the Eagles needed an extra camp arm. Carson Wentz could be limited for most of Training Camp and if Nick Foles begins to struggle with the elbow soreness that meant he missed most of last year’s camp, there is a HUGE window of opportunity for developmental talent to not only take reps with the starters, but to make a statement. Enter Joe Callahan.
At 6’1, 216 lbs, he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Wesley College in 2016. He saw plenty of preseason action due to Aaron Rodgers sitting out and an injury to Brett Hundley and later floated around teams such as New Orleans and Cleveland, before landing back on the Packers practice squad. Seeking greener pastures, Callahan took his talents to Philadelphia where he now has all his eggs one basket…and that basket is a very tightly contested quarterback room that resembles an ‘all-or-nothing’ offseason for both.
“I do want to see Nate, I want to see him a little bit more extensively with the offense.” Head Coach Doug Pederson stated during OTA’s. “So, yeah, I’ll make sure that Nick gets just enough work to make sure he’s ready to go for camp. But at the same time, I want to see Nate and [QB] Joe [Callahan] and see what they can do.”
Sudfeld dealt the first blow with a stunning OTA showing. Dueling with Callahan in what felt like a game of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, Sudfeld’s experience and chemistry with the team played a huge factor in the early stages of the offseason, while Callahan was having to adjust to the offense, terminology and getting on the same page as his receivers.
But that doesn’t mean the battle is won. If anybody knows what Callahan is capable of, it’s Doug Pederson. After all, he did put up 103 yards, completing 10-16 passes in the second half against the Eagles back in the preseason of 2017.
“I thought he played well against us there in the second half and did some nice things.” Pederson said. You know, you’re always looking at every position, as you know, and he caught our attention this spring.”
Callahan may be a huge long shot to make the Eagles final roster, just as Matt McGloin was last offseason. But if he can at least turn some heads and take full advantage of those reps with a higher level of competition that he may not necessarily have seen in Green Bay behind Rodgers and Hundley, then there is a small window to at least unnerve Sudfeld and force the Eagles to take a closer look at the position.
Mack Hollins went on the record saying Sudfeld has the potential to become a future MVP. The Eagles love what he brings to the table both on the field and off of it, but in an offseason where reps with starters have every chance of being plentiful, there’s no such thing as a ‘safe bet’. The Eagles have to be absolutely sure that the QB3 they decide to retain will be ready step up to the plate should his name be called in the future. Whether that’s Sudfeld or not, competition will breed that confidence and excellence needed to ready whomever that quarterback will be.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports