It was 4th & Goal from the Rams 2-yard line. Carson Wentz took the snap from shotgun, stood still and patient in the pocket, and scanned through his progressions, almost unfazed by the pocket collapsing around him. Finally, he spotted Alshon Jeffery break free for a split second and darted the ball to him. The wide receiver was able to pluck it inches from the ground with his fingertips for the touchdown. Little did we know that that would be the final play we would see of Wentz for the 2017 season.
I still remember the mixed feelings I experienced watching the Eagles win that football game. Before it had ended, news was already breaking out that the team’s franchise QB had possibly torn his ACL. As Brandon Graham returned the attempted lateral by Tavon Austin into the end-zone to seal the victory and wrap up the NFC East division title, it was difficult to do any type of celebration. In the back of my mind was the worry that we might have just lost our star QB and league MVP favorite for the rest of the year, and with him possibly our season.
Of course, we all know how it played out. Carson Wentz did indeed tear his ACL but the Philadelphia Eagles were able to carry the momentum and confidence that was built by him and win the franchise’s first Super Bowl Championship with Nick Foles at the helm. The fairy tale season that was feared to be lost still turned out to be a dream come true.
— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2018
Wentz will now make his return in Week 3 of the 2018 season against the Colts in Philadelphia. He might have only missed 8 games total, but with everything that’s happened since his injury it’s felt like a lot longer. The team, its fans, and the city might have gotten the happy ending they all deserved in 2017, but there was still a good amount of heartbreak involved to get there. Just ask all the players that had been placed on Injured Reserve last season and couldn’t play in the big game.
There have been plenty of specials and documentaries recapping the Eagles’ championship season, and I’m sure every fan will be watching them repeatedly for the rest of their lives. I know I will be. But there are still those moments that come one during those videos; moments like the Rams game when Wentz gets injured, or him on the sideline during all of the playoff games, or him handing the Lombardi trophy to the Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. They’re all a little difficult to watch. It’s hard not to get a little choked up watching those moments again because there is still a tiny bit of emptiness we get from them. We finally got to experience our beloved team win it all, but the one player we’ve absolutely fallen in love with, the player that played a huge part in getting the team to that point, wasn’t the one behind center leading it all.
If you watched the “America’s Game” special on NFL Network that aired the night before the season opener, you got to see Wentz talk about and recall all the events of 2017. You could see, hear, and partially feel the joy and pain that he went through during those moments. Being the guy that he is, he said and did all of the right things, but you know that the competitor inside of him hated not being able to play. You know that with every single second that has gone by since he stepped off the field during that Rams game, he has been doing every little thing in his power to get healthy and back onto the field as soon as humanly possible. And all of us fans have been counting down those seconds with him.
Why is Carson Wentz, a player entering only his 3rd season in the NFL, already so beloved by Eagles fans? Because we’ve never had so much of our hopes for the team ride solely on a single player. There has never been a quarterback in the history of the franchise with this combination of physical talent and intangibles. Wentz has the potential to be a generational type of player in this league at the most important position in the sport. Watching him perform at the level he did last season was special to see, and the great thing is that he’s still only 25 years old and will continue to get better. He’s our Tom Brady, our Peyton Manning, our Aaron Rodgers. We knew during his first game in 2016 against the Browns that he was something special.
He’ll be entering this Sunday’s game in a much different situation than that Browns game. Back then, he was leading a rebuilding team with a new head coach and a lot of unknowns. Expectations weren’t that high. But come this Sunday, he’ll be leading a defending Super Bowl Champion team that has started the season 1-1 and has a good share of its offensive weapons out due to injury. Expectations are high. If you think that one Super Bowl win is enough for this city and for this team, you couldn’t be more wrong. Philadelphia is just as hungry for a repeat, and the only one that might want it maybe a bit more than anyone else is Carson Wentz himself. He’s up to the task. In his mind, he has some unfinished business to take care of. He wants that critical touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery to come not in Week 15, but in Super Bowl LIII.
Welcome back, Carson. Time to pick up where you left off.