Is it a concussion? I really hope it’s a concussion …
Carson Wentz came crashing down to the turf, sandwiched between two Rams defenders in what looked like a crazy game of Twister gone wrong. A concussion was the best-case scenario for our beloved Birds as the clock struck 7 p.m. on a frigid Sunday evening in snowy Philadelphia.
A concussed Wentz would be placed in the concussion protocol and might only miss a week, not the entire season. That would be a small coup in the wild, unpredictable world of professional sports that often rewards agony over ecstasy. Not here. Not in a town known as “Negadelphia” by some, where the sky is always a whiter shade of pale, and the forecast tends to be increasingly cloudy rather than always sunny.
As Wentz walked around the field and cameras caught his knee buckling like elastic, the cacophony of text messages started harmonizing much louder than even the most spirited E-A-G-L-E-S chant.
“This is awful. The more I read about the potential impact of this injury the more I want to cry. The sports gods @&#ing HATE Philadelphia. Ugh,” wrote one of the biggest Eagles backers I know.
Another super fan chimed in: “Wentz with a knee injury? Not good. Cancelling my hotel room [in Minneapolis].”
This reporter simply said: “That was fun while it lasted. See you next year.”
By Monday, most of the nay-sayers had calmed down. There was only one confirmed case of a fan bawling his eyes out. Yes, Nick Foles – aka Napoleon Dynamite without the tetherball skills – is now the starting quarterback for a team with serious Super Bowl aspirations. The Lombardi Trophy is totally unattainable, right? Well, maybe not. Foles flexed some Rocky Balboa muscle back in 2013. Remember, his No. 9 jersey is enshrined in Canton for eternity, along with a not-too-shabby 20-16 career record. Things could have been worse. This isn’t as horrific as Chase Daniel taking the reins.
So let’s walk together – and step back from that ledge, my friends. Foles aside, the NFC is downright weak this year. And the path through the conference to get to the Super Bowl is paved mostly with imposters, save one discount double-checker. Let’s break it down, shall we?
- The Vikings lost to the Panthers last week and are still stuck with Case Keenum at quarterback. Keenum is just 17-18 for his career, with 42 touchdown passes compared to 56 for Foles.
- Those Panthers? Well, they are only as good as Cam Newton – and his play has been eerily similar to the Titanic this season. Carolina loses to Green Bay this week. You heard it here first.
- The Saints have Drew Brees but they would have to win a tough game at the Linc. The Saints are a pitiful 1-6 all-time in road playoff games (ironically, the one win was in Philly vs. Foles).
- The Eagles already proved they could outlast the Rams, with Foles at the helm. Jared Goff doesn’t inspire any fear. Take away Sean McVey — and his magic headset – and Goff is basically Foles. Goff threw for just 199 yards last week, with 66 yards coming on one play alone.
- Seattle would have to win the NFC West to get in, and the Rams should slam the final nail on that coffin by the time we are eating dinner Sunday evening.
- Matt Ryan is dangerous. But the Falcons are another team that struggles away from the friendly confines of their dome. Besides, Ryan would be too nervous playing in his hometown.
- The Packers should scare EVERYONE. Aaron Rodgers is coming back to play savior. He’ll have to run the table, but he has three very winnable games: Carolina, Minnesota, Detroit.
Point is, it’s not going to be easy. It never was going to be easy. My Foles-O-Meter, or faith scale in Nicky Six leading a championship parade down Broad Street, is simmering at 10 on a scale from 1-100. He doesn’t inspire much confidence, especially not after throwing several errant passes last week in Los Angeles, none worse than the duck that was called back due to an in-the-grasp penalty and sack.
Foles doesn’t pass the “eye test,” with virtually no arm strength and a lack of vision down the field. He’s a statue in the pocket and when defensive linemen converge, he crumbles like a sack of tater tots. These are the superhuman gifts and unteachable intangibles that put Wentz into the MVP conversation.
But no one is asking Foles to be Wentz. He can’t be. Wentz was the best quarterback in the NFC not named Aaron Rodgers.
In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, Uncle Rico brags that he can throw a football over the mountains. Foles, supported by the top-ranked rushing attack in the NFC, doesn’t need to throw it over the mountains. He just needs to lead them to the top of it. And how Foles gets there doesn’t really matter much to Eagles fans.