Over the past few years, the quarterback situation in Philadelphia has been one of the most fascinating in all of NFL history. In 2017, starter Carson Wentz went down with an ACL tear in week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams. Backup quarterback Nick Foles took over the helm and did the near impossible, led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Superbowl 52 victory over the New England Patriots 41-33. Foles took over again when Wentz went down with a back injury this past year.
But this offseason, Foles agreed to a 4 year, $88 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Wentz healthy again, the Eagles will now roll with Carson as their starter and former third stringer Nate Sudfeld will move up the ranks to become the main backup. There are a lot of questions regarding each quarterback that will be discussed down below.
First String: Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz has the ability to be the face of the entire city of Philadelphia if he picks up where he was in 2017. With some injury issues in 2018, he wasn’t able to have the kind of season he did the year before. But with everything squared away now, there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to perform like he did. Wentz has an amazing arm and elite ability to move in the pocket and evade sacks. If he didn’t tear his ACL in 2017 he was the likely MVP candidate.
Now he is fully healthy, with a loaded skills core featuring arguably the deepest running back group and best tight end set in the NFL, as well as some great wide receivers in Alshon Jeffrey, Desean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and many others. Wentz’s major question is just whether or not he can stay healthy. His injuries he’s sustained aren’t ones that linger around, so there shouldn’t be any issue on that end. Even so, you can’t help but worry. If Wentz stays healthy and plays like he did two years ago, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be a Super Bowl contender, as well as Wentz being in the MVP discussion.
Second String: Nate Sudfeld
Nate will see the biggest change out of any of these quarterbacks this year. He is now the primary backup for Carson Wentz with Nick Foles’ departure. Sudfeld has seen a little bit of time these past few years but not much at all. In the 2018 preseason, Sudfeld played the first three games and had a combined 43/74 passing attempts with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Sudfeld’s main strength is his accuracy on his deep routes. He can put the ball where it needs to be on those deep verticals, and that is a major strength. There isn’t a whole lot of film to go off of in recent memory for Nate, having only had about a full game and a half passing wise under his belt. His major negative is mostly his inexperience. He knows the playbook well, but the question is whether he has the ability to translate that onto the field and make those quick football decisions that both Wentz and Foles were able to do.
Third String: Clayton Thorson or Cody Kessler
Clayton Thorson is a rookie out of Northwestern drafted in the 5th round of the NFL draft. So far in training camp, Clayton has been abysmal to say the least. Having constantly thrown interceptions and several incompletions into the dirt, as well as scrambling and leaving the pocket with zero pressure coming towards him, there is a good chance he may never play a meaningful NFL snap with the Eagles. They will likely get a lot more out of their other quarterback, Cody Kessler.
Kessler was the starter for a portion of the season with the Browns in 2016 and had an okay season for a Browns quarterback in that era. He then sat out the majority of the 2017 season before being traded to Jacksonville and being the backup quarterback there. He eventually ended up taking the job from Blake Bortles but then being benched again a few weeks later. Kessler is still pretty young and can be coached up. He obviously isn’t starting caliber but is not a bad player to have as your third stringer.
Overall, the QB situation is not as great as it was in years past, but this does not mean they are no longer an impressive group. The group is still led by Carson Wentz. If Wentz returns to his 2017 form – with arguably the best skills group around him in the NFL – it will be a potential MVP level season for him. But if he goes down again, it will be big step for Nate Sudfeld to take over the offense, and I don’t know if he’s at that level yet. I hope that Sudfeld can take his talent to that next step and become a reliable backup in Philly, and he has some help in Cody Kessler behind him.