Training Camp is just around the corner and with that in mind, it’s time to take a journey around the Eagles roster and take a closer look at each positional battle. Who are the underdogs to watch? Who are the names on the bubble? This guide will bring you everything you need to know and it’s only logical that we start at the most important spot in Football, quarterback.
The face of the franchise enters Training Camp under a cloud of mystery. Just months after his phenomenal sophomore season was cut short by a heartbreaking ACL tear in week 14, Carson Wentz was already back to work, demonstrating tremendous character in OTA’s by getting involved as much as possible in individual drills. It could be a little while until we see the pride of North Dakota State fully suited and competing in 11-on-11’s, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t excitement.
After seeing Wentz attack OTA’s with a tenacious mentality, many fans are hoping to see Wentz involved to an even greater extent when Camp opens. There’s no danger of losing his spot as the team’s star quarterback, however what there is danger of, is re-injuring an ACL that hasn’t fully healed.
Doug Pederson has preached the protection of the quarterback whose 33 touchdown season would have earned him an MVP award if not for the injury. The trouble is that Wentz has the heart of a Lion and doesn’t take too Kindly being told he can’t do something.
“I think inside he’s very hungry.” Pederson said earlier this year before relating to his quarterback. “I would be. As a leader of the team, sort of the face of the franchise, he was drafted to be our guy long-term. Very hungry. But listen, I still believe this is Carson’s team. I don’t have any other — I don’t think differently about that. But, yeah, inside he’s chomping, he’s ready to get back out there.”
The biggest question with hovering over Carson Wentz is simply ‘Will he be ready by week one?’. For Wentz and the Eagles, that has been and will remain the primary focus. Pederson has to make sure he doesn’t overload his quarterback of the present and future, putting him at risk in a Training Camp that has previously been rigorous. Whether we see Wentz fully padded up on day one, or whether he misses the preseason altogether, this is a Training Camp of the upmost importance and the Eagles can’t afford to let overconfidence or excitement get in the way of the rehabilitation of Carson Wentz’s repaired ACL.
Number 9 is entering a crucial offseason of his own. Now sat back behind Wentz on the depth chart once again, Foles will still lead the team out when the NovaCare Complex opens its doors due to the injury of his teammate. This is big for Foles, especially considering that he missed the majority of camp one offseason ago due to elbow soreness and the birth of his child.
One year later, Foles is a Super Bowl MVP and regarded as a hero in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s safe to say that his desire to start in the NFL remains and teams will be paying very close attention to him over the coming months. After leading the Eagles through an incredible postseason run in which he ignited that 2013 fire, Foles could be poised to start several regular season games if Wentz is unable to play, granting him one more opportunity to prove to NFL teams that he has what it takes to start.
Training Camp will act as a chance to Foles to once again lead the Eagles offense into battle and if Wentz is unable to partake in most activities, this will be a better time than ever for Foles to rally the troops and prepare for the preseason and beyond. Expect a focused, clinical and consistent camp from a quarterback who has it all to play for.
Poached by the Eagles at the start of the regular season in 2017, Sudfeld would spend a year learning under Carson Wentz and Nick Foles before finally seeing his first NFL experience in a week 17 loss to the Cowboys. The Eagles backup may not have been able to score any points against the Dallas starters, but there was plenty of promise in Sudfeld’s 19-23, 134 yard outing.
“I thought he played pretty good.” Head Coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. “He was able to move the team. Without watching the tape tomorrow and getting in here and checking it out, there were probably a couple decisions that we would like to fix or he would have back. But I thought, overall, he did a pretty good job with really just coming to us new at the end of camp there. Again, did some nice things outside of maybe one, two, or three decisions during the game.”
Now, Sudfeld enters his second season with the team and is red-hot after a stunning OTA’s. One could say that he’s feeling the pressure, and they’d be right. With Wentz limited, the window for opportunity is huge as Sudfeld would theoretically receive reps with the second’s. Not only that, but with former Green Bay Packer Joe Callahan breathing down his neck, this could be a crucial camp for both.
If Sudfeld can show growth from his week 17 debut, the scenario of one day replacing Foles as the backup to Carson Wentz will open up dramatically. If he can’t, there’s a hungry Joe Callahan lurking in the distance. The remainder of this offseason could well dictate Sudfeld’s future path as a Philadelphia Eagle. Will it be one of continued development as he pursues the eventual QB2 role, or will he instead fall to the challenge of Callahan? Of course, he has the experience of a whole season in Pederson’s system, but stranger things have happened.
At 6’1, 216 lbs, Callahan 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.
Nobody is expecting Callahan to win out a starting role or even a backup one for that matter. But with the Training Camp’s QB room looking so unpredictable and the long-term future of it even more so, a two-year deal for a 24-year old signal-caller who had time to learn under Aaron Rodgers at least gives the Eagles some much needed optionality should they lose Foles at the end of next season and elevate Sudfeld to QB2, which would be the most logical step of progression. However, Training Camp and preseason alike can often throw up some interesting results.
Keep an eye on Callahan, who pushed Sudfeld hard through OTA’s, despite only spending such a short amount of time with the team. By the time Training Camp arrives, he would have had even more time to digest the playbook and get up to speed with all things Philadelphia. While it may not be one of the most important Training Camp battles as of right now, it has the implication to carry a lot of weight moving forward.
For a great quarterback room, you first need a great quarterback coach. The Eagles were unlucky in losing ‘quarterback whisperer’ John DeFilippo earlier this offseason, but they have full confidence in his replacement, Press Taylor.
“…his reports are thorough, they’re detailed. They’re well thought out. He has a plan that’s part of my philosophy as coaches, if you’re going to put something together, let it be well thought out and put some thought into it and have good reasons for putting it together.” Doug Pederson said of his quarterback coach yesterday. “Some things I’ve asked him to do, and he’s done a great job. He’s smart. He studies. He understands the position.
Last year he did a nice job, and this will be a new role for him, obviously. He’s done a great job this spring. He’s embraced it and looking forward to the season.”
A strong quarterback coach to lead the room has been integral since Pederson’s arrival and as he enters year 3 as an NFL Head Coach, it may be more important than ever. The Eagles are still in limbo with regards to the week one status of Carson Wentz and will be for quite some time. On one hand, they have a Super Bowl MVP who led the franchise to greatness, picking up where one of the hottest hands in the game left off after he went down with a horrible injury in week 14.
While the future of the most important position in football is in safe hands, the present is anyone’s for the taking. Training Camp will be incredibly important in establishing the dynamic in the room and establishing a pecking order both with and without Carson Wentz.