PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles “next man up” mentality will be tested like never before.
A team steamrolling towards a potential Super Bowl berth suffered its worst nightmare when quarterback Carson Wentz was lost for the season to a torn ACL. Backup Nick Foles performed well in relief against the Rams and has a resume which appears to make him a capable replacement. Still, Doug Pederson and the veteran leaders rallied the Eagle over the past few days and players such as Brandon Graham say they are ready to move forward without their MVP candidate.
“I think we did a good job quickly getting past it and refocusing,” said Graham. “We didn’t work this hard to just crumble at the end because somebody got hurt. We know that it’s part of the business. It sucks that Carson got hurt because he’s the leader of the team, but now it’s time to see the foundation that we really have.”
Many fans remember Foles from his spectacular 2013 campaign. He threw just 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions during the season. Despite eventually getting traded to the Rams and moving on to a backup role in Kansas City, Eagles coach Doug Pederson believes Foles’ experience in the NFL give him an advantage over less seasoned backups.
“I think he’s definitely matured as a quarterback,” Pederson said. “It’s his leadership ability and his understanding of our offense and of defenses. We always knew he was a very smart, intellectual quarterback and could process information, but he’s been able to take it to the next level in his preparation and just how he responds to the guys and how the guys have responded to him.”
No matter how the Eagles are able to put the loss of Wentz behind them, all will still have a job to do for the remainder of the season. The next test will come on Sunday when the Eagles visit the Giants with a chance to wrap up a first round bye. For tackle Lane Johnson, it will be business as usual.
“It won’t be too much of a change we’ll be making,” said Johnson. “He’s taken a lot of reps as a backup this whole year. Coming into this situation, it’s unfortunate, but I feel like we’re well prepared for it.”
The Eagles have had strong locker room with impressive leadership throughout the season. After the Wentz injury, Malcolm Jenkins and his teammates discussed going forward without their franchise quarterback. The veteran safety also reminded everybody of what remains at stake.
“We knew we’d hear questions about whether we felt confident enough to move forward,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day, it changes nothing. Everything that we want to do is in front of us.”