Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Disaster in Philadelphia: Wentz Tears ACL

It was the worst possible news to get Monday afternoon, but it’s what we all feared. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz tore his ACL while diving into the end zone in Sunday’s 43-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams. He’ll miss the rest of the season.

There was reason for hope. The touchdown was called back on a penalty and Wentz stayed in for a couple of plays after, tossing a touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. After the series, Wentz was seen headed to the locker room with a towel over his head. FOX’s sideline reporter, Erin Andrews, told viewers at home that the training personnel coming out of the locker room were downtrodden. Now we know why.

The hit wasn’t dirty, but more of a freak moment in time as Wentz’s legs were sandwiched in between two defenders. The win over the Rams gave Philadelphia (11-2) control of the NFC, thanks to a Minnesota Vikings loss. With Wentz out, will it even matter?

Wentz is just the latest Eagles star to go down. Left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, back up running back Darren Sproles and special teamer Chris Maragos are all out too.

“If there’s ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “You can’t lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long.”

No team is that resilient. This isn’t Trent Green going down in preseason after starting half a year for the Washington Redskins and getting replaced by Kurt Warner with the Rams in 1999. Wentz was an MVP candidate. He was a Top Five NFL quarterback this season. Replacing that guy will be tough.

The irony is, Philly prepared for this better than anyone by signing their former starter, Nick Foles, as a free agent this off-season. Just three years ago Foles was one of the hot young quarterbacks in the league before Jeff Fisher and Rob Boras ruined his career in St. Louis. Considering the significant upgrades in performance Jared Goff and Case Keenum have made without Fisher’s stank on them, there’s no reason to think Foles won’t bounce back to his pre Fisher form. Before Fisher, Foles was 15-9 as a starter and, with Pederson calling the plays back in 2013 for Philly, completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,891 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Foles, back then, was an unquestioned NFL quarterback. This gives him the chance to be one again. He was good coming out of the bullpen Sunday against his old team, completing 6-of-10 for 42 yards to close out the game. His best play was keeping his hands on the ball when Robert Quinn came around the edge and tried for the strip sack. It would have probably ended the game right there. Instead, it was a strip sack from former Rams defensive end Chris Long on Jared Goff that wrapped things up with a go-ahead Philadelphia field goal.

Still, losing Wentz not only hurts the Eagles’ chances, but hurts the NFL as a brand. The sportsbooks have already moved Philadelphia’s Super Bowl odds from 6-1 to 12-1 in a day. While the Eagles clinched the NFC East and secured at least a home playoff game, their biggest name will be off the marquee. It’s a shame.

NOW WHO’S THE FAVORITE IN THE NFC?

It’s an interesting question. If Wentz walks off the field healthy Sunday, the Eagles are the NFC favorite by a huge margin. The quick answer is the Vikings, who seemingly have a shot at reclaiming home field advantage in the playoffs and even playing the Super Bowl at home. Ironically, Wentz’s injury might really open the door to the team he beat Sunday, the Rams. They’re probably the most complete team with the scariest offense on the table. The New Orleans Saints are back in the mix as a legit Super Bowl contender as well.

What this really does, as far as Super Bowl odds go, is hand the Lombardi Trophy to the eventual AFC Champion. I can’t see any of these teams beating the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 52. The only chance the Rams, Saints, Vikings or Wentz-less Eagles have of claiming a title is if the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans sneak in there. I kind of think that’s impossible.

BILL O’BRIEN ADDRESSES TOM SAVAGE SITUATION

After taking a monster hit from San Francisco 49ers linebacker Elvis Dumervill in their 26-16 loss Sunday, Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage was obviously in trouble.

“Obviously,” in that to anyone who saw the hit and the way his arms spasmed afterward, Savage had a concussion at the very least. But, the crack Houston Texans training staff and coaches didn’t seem to notice. After what was called a “quick check” on Savage’s mental condition, head coach Bill O’Brien sent him back out into the games. The Texans went three-and-out and then O’Brien got concerned. He asked for Savage to be evaluated for a concussion a second time.

“It wasn’t anything that I particularly saw on the field,” O’Brien told reporters Monday. “I just said, look, that was a quick check. It was a three-and-out on that series. Let’s continue to check him to make sure that the player, Tom Savage, is OK. They went, they checked him, they came to me, they were not satisfied with his answers to the questions that they were asking him, and they pulled him from the game.”

Meanwhile, the NFLPA didn’t buy that and is conducting a full investigation. In addition, the NFL itself is “looking into the matter,” they say. While O’Brien can feign ignorance on Savage’s concussion-themed jazz hands, you know who can’t? His coaches in the booth. They have access to the TV feed and they sure as hell could have and should have seen a replay before Savage went back onto the field in the next possession.

If O’Brien had escaped the hot seat this season because of player injuries, he might have sat his ass squarely on it over this fiasco. Houston is now 4-9. It’s O’Brien’s first losing season as the Texans’ head coach, but let’s not pretend these previous teams did anything but survive the season and barely accrue 9-7 records. The bottom half of the AFC has been garbage for years and just because the Texans have been the turd that floated to the top of the toilet bowl doesn’t make them good. O’Brien has one more year left on his current contract.

“I signed a five-year contract. I expect to be back here, but those decisions are not made by me,” O’Brien said. “My job is to make sure that I coach these players. I really care about these players. I really care about how hard they’re working and the effort that they’re putting in. And we’re not seeing the results on the field, so I really want to try to improve that over the next three weeks.”

Houston owner Bob McNair would be smart to look at the roster he has coming back and make a change. If he needs an excuse, this Savage thing might just be it.

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