For the second-straight season, the Philadelphia Eagles are headed to the L.A. Coliseum for a late-season date with the Los Angeles Rams. And for the second-straight season, the Eagles will deal with an unexpected situation at the quarterback position against head coach Sean McVay and his NFC West Champion Rams.
Early Wednesday morning, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Eagles third-year quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing with a back injury that could hold him out of Sunday night’s game in Los Angeles — almost exactly one year after the former North Dakota State Bison tore his ACL against the Rams in L.A.
The unfortunate injury update comes near the end of what Eagles head coach Doug Pederson called a “difficult” season for his team due to injuries. Several Eagles have missed time to injury in 2018, including a number of starters. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, as well as safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Jalen Mills join nine other Eagles on the injured reserve.
Pederson, who joined the club back in 2016 alongside Wentz, did not directly address the status of his starting quarterback during his Wednesday morning conference call, but did talk about Wentz’s contributions since reclaiming his starting job Week 3 with a healthy left knee.
“He's helped us win the games that we've won,” Pederson said. “He's managed the offense extremely, extremely well and done some nice things. So, something we've just got to continue to finish on and build on the rest of the year."
The defending champs are 5-6 with Wentz at the helm in 2018 after starting the season 1-1 led by veteran quarterback and former Ram, Nick Foles. The midweek quarterback news broke out of Philadelphia as Wentz is completing 69.6 percent of his passes and is coming off a three-touchdown, zero-interception performance against the Cowboys in Week 14. Wentz has accumulated 3,074 yards passing and 21 touchdowns starting in 11 games this season.
If Wentz is unable to go this weekend in L.A., Pederson will look to his Super Bowl MVP for support.
“He's smart, he's an accurate passer and just a guy that we've got a lot of faith and a lot of trust in as a veteran backup,” the head coach said of Foles. “If he does get an opportunity to play, we've got a lot of confidence in him and his teammates do as well."
Foles went 5-1 in his movie-like relief of Wentz in 2017, leading his club to its first Super Bowl title and earning the big game’s highest individual honor. Foles finished two 2018 starts with one touchdown and one interception, and took 5.0 total sacks against the Falcons and Buccaneers.
Pederson said his group is confident in Foles, but the seven-year veteran operates a bit differently than his 25-year-old signal caller.
“Every quarterback is a little bit different, but we keep it within the structure of the offense,” Pederson said without elaborating. “Again, if that opportunity arises, whether it's this year, next year, whenever – you just make sure that he can understand the game plan and execute it efficiently."
Whoever is on the field for the banged-up Eagles on Sunday night will be game planning for the Rams as they come off their most polarized performance of the season against the Bears in Week 14.
While the L.A. offense came up empty in Chicago — totalling just 214 yards of offense with four turnovers — the defense looked as good as it was advertised back in August, when defensive tackle Aaron Donald signed his contract extension just in time for Week 1.
Philly’s third-year head coach and — former seven-year staff member of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid — knows Los Angeles’ most recent primetime sample might not paint a complete picture of his next opponent.
"I think you have to look at the entire season,” Pederson said. “One game doesn't necessarily define a football team or a football season, so you have to take the full body of work. Listen, the Rams are a great football team.”