Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson has indicated that Carson Wentz is "our quarterback" when healthy, but as Nick Foles prepares to , at least one of the team's leaders doesn't seem too concerned about the backup running the show.
Addressing the Eagles' quarterback situation entering Week 17 and a potential playoff run, safety Malcolm Jenkins said this week that Foles is a big reason Philadelphia is even in contention for the postseason.
"We get confused sometimes because he's a backup quarterback," Jenkins said, per ESPN's Tim McManus. "He just happens to be Carson Wentz's backup. He's a player. He's a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Obviously, he's pumped life back into this team, the offense, playing phenomenal right when we need it. But that's Nick. He's no different. It's not like he rose to the occasion. This is what he's made for."
Jenkins' comments pretty much sum up the entire Foles-Wentz dilemma in Philadelphia.
Wentz is the anointed face of the franchise and a superior talent who still posted promising numbers in 2018, playing several weeks through a stress fracture in his back -- and after an offseason of knee rehab. Yet Foles is maybe the NFL's most historic case of Johnny-on-the-spot, a steady hand who's had his greatest moments under the brightest lights -- including Week 16's must-win comeback against the Houston Texans, in which he threw four touchdowns and almost 500 yards.
If the Eagles win again in Week 17 and get help from the Chicago Bears, they'll be in the playoffs -- presumably with Foles having won three games in a row. Meanwhile, Wentz has not been placed on Injured Reserve and reportedly this season, with Pederson assuring the media that a discussion would be had in the event Wentz is healthy enough to play.
What decision would and should come from such a discussion, though? The answer is probably the same.
Unless Foles gets hurt in Week 17, it'll be hard to justify taking him off the field if the Eagles do make the playoffs.
As high as Wentz's ceiling is, and as unfortunate as it'd be for him to be forced out of another postseason run, there's no denying, as Jenkins said, that Foles "pumped life back into this team." It'd be naive to suggest Foles alone is the reason for Philly's two-game win streak, but at the end of the day, the gears are turning smoothly with him under center, so why change what's working -- and send that message to the locker room -- while simultaneously risking Wentz's health, especially after seeing what Foles did at the tail end of 2017?
It's not as if Foles has just been managing his way to victory in recent weeks, either. He stood tall against pressure to open up the Eagles' deep passing game against the Los Angeles Rams on the road, then lit up Houston's secondary by spreading the ball all over the field on Sunday. Had Wentz performed in similar fashion over the team's last two games, there would assuredly be widespread praise for his poise down the home stretch.
That's not to say Wentz wouldn't return to form if he's cleared to play again. In many respects, he's actually been more efficient than in his 2017 MVP campaign. But we're talking about where the Eagles and Wentz are right now. The latter is on the mend. The former is staring a possible playoff berth right in the face, with a quarterback who's heating up for the second winter in a row.
As for 2019 and beyond, well, that's another discussion entirely.