Carson Wentz will start for the Eagles this week, but unless Doug Pederson changes his plans, he may not stay healthy for long.
Philadelphia Eagles fans are understandably excited at the prospect of seeing Carson Wentz take the field again. He’s going to start against the Colts in Week 3. If Wentz is going to stay this healthy, Doug Pederson is going to have to be a smarter coach.
The Eagles head man is displaying a lot of bravado when he says that he won’t “coach scared” with Wentz at the controls this week. That makes for a great sound bite, but it’s a pretty foolish stance by a pretty smart coach.
In fairness to Pederson, much of his success in Philadelphia has come as a result of his aggressive play calling. It’s a perfect philosophy for Wentz when he’s healthy. That’s not the reality for the talented quarterback at the moment, though.
When Wentz returns to the field against Indianapolis, he won’t be 100 percent. He’s still in the midst of recovering from the torn ACL that cost him the end of the 2017 regular season and all of the Eagles’ magical Super Bowl run. At the very least, that means his mobility is going to be somewhat compromised.
Pederson doesn’t need to treat Wentz with kid gloves, but tweaking the playbook to protect him is just smart asset management. The Eagles need to play the long game here. Beating the Colts in Week 3 is important, but it’s not vital for Philadelphia’s hopes of defending their Super Bowl title. Keeping Wentz healthy until the playoffs must be the organization’s top priority.
After all, the Colts aren’t exactly a dominating defensive unit. Jabaal Sheard is a quality pass rusher, but the rest of his teammates don’t add a lot of help in the sack department. No Colts defender other than Sheard had more than three sacks in 2017. Giving Wentz a little extra protection would likely keep him upright for the entire game.
Instead of issuing bold declarations of how aggressive he’s going to be with Wentz at the helm, Pederson should be devising schemes to take shots down the field without giving the Colts open rushing lanes. Subtle changes to the Eagles attack like leaving a tight end and/or running back to block on obvious passing downs would easily do the trick.
Eagles fans should hope that Pederson is just talking a big game about his plans for Wentz. If he’s not, their head coach is going to put their franchise signal-caller in serious danger in his first game back. That’s a really good way to ruin the team’s chances of making it back to another Super Bowl this year.