The Eagles have a very interesting situation on their hands with Carson Wentz, that Doug Pederson said . It will officially keep him out for Sunday night (8:15 p.m., NBC, stream on fuboTV, try for free) in Los Angeles, as the Eagles announced on Saturday morning he wouldn't play against the Rams.
If the Eagles are smart -- and I think the Eagles are smart -- they should shut him down for the rest of the season.
Wentz has a long history of battling injuries in his short career. There was the torn ACL Wentz suffered last year (against the Rams in Los Angeles, actually). Wentz suffered broken ribs in his first game in the NFL. He dealt with a fractured wrist in college. And according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wentz' medical report at the combine in 2016 referred to a healed stress fracture that Wentz battled while playing for North Dakota State.
Pederson was a bit touchy and evasive about the situation on Friday when asked about Wentz' status -- the quarterback was listed as questionable on the Eagles Friday injury report before being downgraded to out on Saturday.
Here's his exchange with reporters:
Q. Can you confirm that QB Carson Wentz fractured vertebrae, is it one? Is it multiple?
DOUG PEDERSON: Here's what I can confirm. That he has a stress injury; that this thing has evolved over time and it requires zero surgery to heal.
Q. Stress fracture?
DOUG PEDERSON: A stress injury, yeah. You can word it how you want, fracture, injury.
Q. When did he first start complaining about it and when did the team first become aware that he had a back issue?
DOUG PEDERSON: It's just evolved over time.
Q. So, you don't recall when it happened?
DOUG PEDERSON: Listen, I'm not going to get into a ton of specifics on that. You know that right now.
Q. Is Wentz playing Sunday?
DOUG PEDERSON: He's questionable. Listed as questionable.
Q. Why can't you go into specifics about your franchise quarterback's injury?
DOUG PEDERSON: Because I don't think it needs to be aired out publicly. It's an in-house decision and that's the way we're going to keep it and it's in Carson's best interest right now.
Q. There's been questions about the discovery of the fracture and how that all comes to play. Can you lend any insight into that? Have you been giving tests periodically?
DOUG PEDERSON: What I know is that this thing has evolved over time.
It's not very often where a coach WANTS to talk about his quarterback's back injury, especially when the word "vertebrae" is being thrown around. But this does feel like a situation where the Eagles knew all along they wouldn't be playing Wentz and are trying to toe the line with keeping Wentz as potentially active, while trying to make a playoff push, but knowing they don't really have a great opportunity to make a playoff run at 6-7, while also prioritizing the quarterback's health.
I'm here to tell you what they should do and it's very simple and I'm actually yelling it in my kitchen while typing this: SHUT CARSON WENTZ DOWN.
This is simple. It's an easy decision. A no-brainer option to make sure you don't hurt your team for the long haul. Think about it -- Wentz is in the third year of his career after being taken No. 2 overall by the Eagles, who traded a ton of capital in order to move up in a swap with the Browns. This is their guy. They are heavily invested in him.
Wentz was an MVP candidate last season before tearing his ACL; Philadelphia won the Super Bowl behind the magic of Nick Foles, their high-priced backup and insurance policy. Foles is probably/maybe gone after this season, depending on what happens with Wentz.
This offseason, Wentz is eligible for an extension. This time last year, there would have been no debate about giving him max bucks. Even in the middle of an ACL rehab, Wentz had looked incredible enough in his second season to warrant a mammoth deal. He's probably still there in terms of being an easy guy to extend.
But Pederson acknowledged on Friday the injuries could be considered "a red flag" once you get three years into Wentz's career and see what he's been dealing with.
"I think it's a pretty -- to ask the question now, after three years, and the injury situation that's going on, I think you guys can sit here and say that it's probably a red flag," Pederson said. "A lot of injuries occur because of the nature of the sport, the violent hits of this sport. Guys know exactly what they are getting into, even at a young age, and Carson is no different."
Pederson also later pointed out there was no surgery needed for the back injury, which is "the best news that you could possibly have."
Here's the reality: Wentz' contract can wait. He's going to get paid a ton of money and he's going to get paid a ton of money by the Eagles. Maybe it's not this offseason. Who cares? He's rich, he's young, he's talented. He's going to get paid.
More important right now is for the Eagles to put him in a position whereby he can demand max dollars from them. They need to sit him down. Let him rest and not, you know, take hits in football games on a back that's already wonky. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network -- in a pretty great rant on Good Morning Football -- said there are some people who believe the back injury might be connected to the ACL and LCL recovery this season. Maybe Wentz is overcompensating because of the leg injury and it's resulting in him hurting his back.
ACL recovery times have been shortened because of modern medical technology, but it's still a major injury and different for every player. Maybe the Eagles struggled out of the gate with Foles under center and rushed Wentz back. There's the extremely curious matter of the Eagles firing members of the medical staff this offseason. There's a lot going on here.
But through it all the Eagles need to do the most important thing. Let Wentz heal. He's a franchise quarterback in a league driven by franchise quarterbacks and defined by the haves and have nots. Even the suggestion of playing him again this season is preposterous. Sit him down, let him get his body right and regroup for 2019.