Good morning, boys and girls. Well, one preseason game mercifully down and just three to go. With almost all of their starters, including quarterback Carson Wentz, watching in street clothes, the Eagles lost to the Tennessee Titans Thursday night, 27-10. The outcome was meaningless. What wasn’t was the late-second-quarter wrist injury to Wentz’s backup, Nate Sudfeld. Nate broke a bone in his left (nonthrowing) wrist and will have surgery Friday morning. It’s not season-ending, but he’ll be out for a while. The Eagles are off Friday. When they resume practice Saturday morning at the NovaCare Complex, Cody Kessler will be taking reps as the No. 2 quarterback.
— Paul Domowitch (email@example.com)
With Thursday night’s injury to Nate Sudfeld, the Eagles have a decision to make.
Should they stand pat with Cody Kessler as the backup to Carson Wentz until Sudfeld returns from his broken wrist, which might not be until mid-October? Or should they sign a better backup option than Kessler, assuming they could even find one?
Wentz’s injury history makes this a little more important than if we were talking about Tom Brady’s or Drew Brees’ backups. Wentz has been hurt every year going back to his senior season in college. Since 2015, his teams have played 68 games. He’s missed 21 of them.
The Eagles are a team that fancies itself a Super Bowl contender this season. They would appear to be one as long as Wentz can stay healthy. Would they be one if they had to turn to Kessler, whose 12 NFL starts actually are 12 more than Sudfeld?
Head coach Doug Pederson said after the game Thursday that “right now, we are going to continue with who we have.” He said the Eagles are “comfortable” with Kessler as the backup until Sudfeld gets back.
If he has a change of heart, an intriguing name would be former Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford knows Pederson’s offense. He was going to be the team’s starter in 2016 before getting traded to the Minnesota Vikings right before the start of the season. Bradford was released last season by the Arizona Cardinals and didn’t re-sign with anyone. It’s not clear whether he has retired or just didn’t get any offers that he liked.
Then again, it’s highly unlikely he’d be interested in returning to Philadelphia to back up Wentz. He also wouldn’t come cheap.
The Eagles signed Kessler in May. He has a 2-10 record as a starter, losing all eight of his starts as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns, and going 2-2 in four starts with Jacksonville last season. He was 3 for 6 for just 12 yards in a little more than a quarter of work Thursday night. The team’s other quarterback, rookie fifth-round pick, Clayton Thorson, was atrocious, completing just 2 of 9 passes for 7 yards and an interception.
Kessler is a smart quarterback and is relatively accurate. He just doesn’t have a particularly strong arm.
Stay tuned. It will be interesting to see how Sudfeld’s injury impacts Pederson’s willingness to play Wentz the remainder of the preseason. Since Wentz was drafted by the Eagles in 2016, he’s played in just four preseason games. One was as a rookie before he fractured his ribs. He played in three games in 2017. He didn’t play at all in the preseason last summer because he was recovering from an ACL tear.
The position with the best depth, Dave, is the offensive line. With the addition of first-round tackle Andre Dillard and the continued development of former rugby player Jordan Mailata, and four Pro Bowlers among their starting five, this is as good — and as deep — a front line as I can remember the Eagles ever having. And as you may know, I’ve been around a while. As for the least depth, I’d have to say linebacker, with defensive end a close second. Nigel Bradham, who still is recovering from torn ligaments in his toe, is expected back by Week 1. But the rest of the LB unit has a lot of question marks. That was evident against the Titans when linebackers Nate Gerry and L.J. Fort both gave up touchdown catches. At end, the trade of Michael Bennett and the retirement of Chris Long has weakened this group. If Derek Barnett isn’t able to come back strong from his torn rotator cuff, they could have problems.