For two straight years, Nick Foles led the Eagles into the playoffs.
For two straight years, Carson Wentz watched.
Even though Wentz is the franchise quarterback and the Eagles have continued to stand by him despite the success Foles has had, it couldn’t have been easy to watch football from the sideline for the second consecutive January.
Yeah, super frustrating,” Wentz said on Monday, speaking for the first time with reporters since Dec. 9. “You want to play postseason football. I still have zero games of postseason football under my belt. I realize I have a lot to prove in that regard. I’m confident that I will get the chance to do that.
It’s not just that Wentz doesn’t have any playoff experience.
It’s that the guy he’s going to replace is an NFL playoff legend.
Foles and the Eagles lost to the Saints, 20-14, on Sunday, and Foles didn’t have a very good game. But Foles began performing so well down the stretch and in the first playoff game this season, that plenty of Eagles fans have been clamoring for the organization to shift their long-term plan and hitch their wagon to Foles instead of Wentz. That still seems very unlikely to happen.
And that means when Wentz is the starter Week 1 next year, he’ll be judged against a guy who became an icon in Philadelphia.
Even Wentz admitted that could add some pressure.
It could. Without a doubt. You look at that and you could say it could put more pressure. I mean, you can say coming into the season there was more pressure. But I do everything I can to block that stuff out. I think right now, going forward, my focus is getting my body right. And to play this game freely the way I did last year before the injury and cut it loose. Get rid of all that pressure and anxiety and whatever it may be, just play the game freely. And that’s where I’m going to get to.
Wentz missed the final three games of the regular season and both playoff games this season. When asked if the Eagles made an effort to tell Wentz they were committed to him during that stretch, Wentz said he was “not going to get involved in that.”
The whole idea of “Nick vs. Carson” consumed local sports talk stations, newspapers and websites. As insulated as athletes try to stay, it would be impossible for some of that to not make its way back to Wentz.
“I try not to think about all those things,” he said. “I know there’s lots of he said, she said things out there … but at the end of the day, I can’t control those. I can’t control those. What I can control is getting my body right, getting healthy and getting myself back on the field to prove the player I can be.”
The funny thing about “Nick vs. Carson” is the two, and third-stringer Nate Sudfeld, are exceptionally close. They’re genuinely happy for one another when they find success.
The most likely scenario this offseason — however we get there — is that Foles will not be an Eagle. But on Monday, Wentz was asked if he would be confident he’d still be the starter if Foles was somehow brought back next season. Wentz said he was confident “that the team is going to do what’s best for the team and then I’m going to support that.”
Since he just finished his third NFL season, Wentz is now eligible for a contract extension this offseason if he and the Eagles want to work something out. He’s still under contract for next season, but this is the first chance the Eagles will get to extend him.
“I’m not going to go there,” Wentz said about a possible new contract. “Not right now, especially after the season ending yesterday the way it did.”
But eventually, the Eagles are going to sign Wentz to a long-term deal. This is going to be his team. And it’ll be up to him to get out of Foles’ shadow. He has the talent to do it, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a ton of pressure to overcome.
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