Three weeks ago when Carson Wentz was lost for the season most people assumed that our Super Bowl chances were dead on the spot, and rightfully so. How could anyone lose their starting quarterback, especially one in the midst of an MVP season, and still have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations? It doesn’t take much brain power to conclude that an injury at the most important position in
football sports is enough to derail most seasons.
When I listen to Eagle fans or NFL pundits discuss the Birds diminished Super Bowl chances, this is the argument they make. It’s the easiest conclusion to draw because, no shit, what team wouldn’t be worse without their starting quarterback — we’ve seen an overwhelming majority of teams lose their starter and have their season end along with it. It’s a fine opinion to have, but it rests on the assumption that only teams with elite QBs win Super Bowls, which while it’s a safe bet to make, is not always the case. At that point we have to look at the factors at play for the teams lacking elite-level quarterbacks that still manage to win or get to Super Bowls and see how they apply to us; things like defense, coaching, identity, running game, etc. If you jumped off the bandwagon immediately after Wentz’ injury I certainly understand your position, but you’re ignoring those factors.
However, it’s not those fans or analysts I have a problem with. If you abandoned the Birds once Wentz went down, it’s at the very least a defensible position. The people I can’t understand are those who are just now giving up hope and dangling off the bandwagon.
My level of concern is obviously higher now that Carson Wentz is hurt, but relative to the concern we had on the Monday following the injury, we’ve never had more reason for optimism. We’ve won both games, run the ball well, bounced back on defense against the Raiders, and Foles has stayed clean. The four parameters for still being able to compete sans Wentz have always been 1) securing home-field advantage 2) dominant defense 3) solid running game 4) Foles protecting the football – the same formula to win in the playoffs for any football team, elite quarterback or not.
In the past 9 quarters the Eagles have satisfied all four of those contingencies, but for some reason, fans and pundits alike are now “concerned” about the Birds.
My question to those people is, what have you seen in the last few weeks that have raised your level of concern any more since Wentz went down? Were you anticipating blowout wins? Unlikely. Did you foresee 7 touchdown performances from Foles? Doubt it. Did you expect to keep Derek Carr and Eli Manning off the scoreboard completely? Probably not.
On the Monday following Wentz’ injury our “concern” not only stemmed from the fact that we knew we were losing him for the season, but also the uncertainty of how his loss would impact the rest of the football team. Fast forward three weeks and we still don’t have Wentz – that hasn’t changed – what’s different is that we’ve seen how the rest of the team responds without him. The run defense is still impenetrable, the run game is still solid, and Foles has played competently. If you forget about Wentz for a second then we’re probably talking about a football team ideally constructed for a “game manger” to lead.
The truth is, when you consider the context, there wasn’t a team in the NFL better equipped to lose their starting quarterback than the Birds. I made that argument weeks ago when he went down, although nobody understandably wanted to hear it then, its proven true in the past 135 minutes of football. Then, consider the fact that all we need to do to make the Super Bowl is win a pair of home games coming off a bye week (since the start of last season the Eagles allow a league low 14 points per game at Lincoln Financial Field). Wentz or no Wentz, that’s as favorable a path to the Super Bowl as possible, and it by no means was a guarantee following his injury.
If you thought that losing Wentz marked the end of our season regardless of how we’d preform in these few games then that’s fine – that’s at least a respectable take. But if you’re just now jumping off the bandwagon, or even as much as teetering on the side, then you either don’t have the emotional intelligence to take the loss of our starting quarterback out of the equation, or you never understood what ‘winning football’ would look like without Wentz.