By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — No one saw this coming from either of them. In his second season as a pro, Carson Wentz went from a promising quarterback to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In his sixth year in the NFL, Nick Foles went from the scrapheap to the top of the heap, when he guided the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl, being selected Super Bowl LII MVP.
The improbable journey couldn’t have happened without one willing to work with the other.
But what could Wentz learn from Foles, who closed the season going 5-1, while completing 134 of 207 passes, for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns, against three interceptions? Foles averaged 251.3 yards passing a game, and 11.2 yards a completion during his Super Bowl run. He’s a statue quarterback—but one who got the job finished by finding time in the pocket.
Think about it.
With the Eagles sitting there on fourth-and-goal with :38 left in the first half and the ball at the New England Patriots’ 1-yard line, would the world have seen “The Philly Special” in Super Bowl LII?
Possibly not with Wentz.
The 6 foot 5 inch, 240 pound Wentz most likely would have plowed his way into the end zone—as he did numerous times on fourth-and-short last season. To a point, that’s the benefit of the laws of nature working. Behind a great push from the best offensive line in football, Wentz is too large to stop.
It’s situations like on Dec. 10, 2017, that could lead to his undoing.
With the Eagles looking at a first-and-goal from the Los Angeles Rams’ 2, Wentz tucked the ball and ran to the end zone. He didn’t take a second to look up as he was running. He dove, scored, and had the touchdown taken away on a holding call. Four plays later, Wentz found Alshon Jeffery in the end zone on fourth down for a 2-yard score.
And that was it in 2017 for Wentz, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
It’s No. 11’s bravado and instinct that Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson may have to curb in the coming years.
“It’s the way Carson is wired, and I don’t want to take that edge away, but at the same time, he has to be smart,” Pederson said. “We have to keep him healthy, but at the same time, I don’t want to mess too much with his aggressiveness.”
Though Foles is nowhere near the athlete Wentz is, Foles has done an amazing job preserving himself. He was sacked seven times, for minus 58 yards, in the six starts he made for the Eagles. He knew when to get rid of the ball, and, when the rare opportunities were presented to him to run, Foles instead looked up field and looked for an open receiver.
It’s a habit Wentz better begin adapting to if he has any intention of lasting in the NFL.
“I can’t change who I am, if I see a chance to make a play, I’m going to try and make something happen,” Wentz said. “It’s the competitor in me that takes over during the heat of a game. You see an opportunity, you take it.”
So in the meantime, hopefully, Wentz saw what Foles did, how effective Foles was when he did have to be mobile, and how Foles still looked downfield when he was forced to move. It could be the difference in Wentz being the player he’s projected to be, or the Mickey Mantle of football, a great player who could have been even better if not forever plagued by debilitating injuries.