As many in the NFL -- especially those in Philadelphia -- feared, quarterback Carson Wentz will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
Wentz took a hit in the third quarter of the Eagles’ 43-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams while trying to run into the end zone. Wentz stayed in the game for four more plays and that included a two-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery that gave the Eagles a 31-28 lead at the time. After the drive, Wentz was taken to the locker room and ruled out for the remainder of the game shortly after. Initial tests indicated a loose ACL as possibly a best case scenario, but tests Monday morning confirmed the tear. A report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested the Eagles believe the injury might have come from the step before the hit occurred.
#Eagles coach Doug Pederson says watching the film, they believe the ACL was torn before the contact. The step before the hit.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 11, 2017
Wentz leads the league in passing touchdowns (33) and touchdown rate (7.5 percent). He’s 10th in yards per attempt (7.5) and sixth in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A, 7.43). His loss will not be a small one.
This leaves the 11-2 Eagles with Nick Foles as the starting quarterback heading into the final three games of the regular season and into the playoffs. Philadelphia clinched the NFC East with Sunday’s win and are still in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. ESPN’s Football Power Index a 24.9 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, but those odds will likely take a hit with Foles under center.
Foles entered the game against the Rams for an injured Wentz and went 6-of-10 for 42 yards (4.2 yards per attempt) with a sack. That’s not the type of quarterback production the Eagles will hope for going forward, but with a big lead in the standings, Philadelphia does have time to work out some kinks before the playoffs.
The first opponent for the Wentz-less Eagles will be the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. In the Week 3 meeting between these two teams, Wentz threw for just 176 yards on 31 attempts (5.7 yards per attempt), but his play vastly improved throughout the season.
Foles started one game for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and went 20-for-33 with 187 passing yards (5.7 yards per attempt) and a touchdown in a 19-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Eagles and Giants fans will likely remember Foles’s 2013 stint with the Eagles when he threw for 27 touchdowns (league-leading 8.5 percent touchdown rate) against just two interceptions in 10 games filling in for an injured Michael Vick.
Wentz’s injury is a sad one, but the Eagles offense had been one that excelled on scheming open receivers and passing lanes. The offense will take a hit without Wentz avoiding defenders behind the current state of the Philadelphia offensive line, but it might not have to bottom out. The Eagles still have a ground game they can rely more on -- they were ninth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA on the ground through Week 13 -- and the defense has been one of the league’s best -- third in defensive DVOA.
No team wants to lose a quarterback, especially one of Wentz’s calibur, but this Eagles team has a deep roster that might be able to carry a lesser quarterback through a tough NFC. This coming Sunday, the Giants will be the first team to find out.