The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are making a change at quarterback. Head coach Doug Pederson announced Monday that Carson Wentz is returning to the lineup and will start for the Eagles Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
“He has been cleared. And so we’re all excited about that,” Pederson said of Wentz, who has been rehabbing a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee since last December. It will be Wentz’ first action since Week 14 last season.
In his absence, the Eagles won two of their final three games to secure the NFC’s top seed. They eventually beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in the 2018 Super Bowl, behind the MVP performance of backup quarterback Nick Foles.
Foles has led the Eagles to a 1-1 start to the regular season. Pederson said regardless of Foles’ performance, the team’s plan all along was to put Wentz back into the lineup when he was healthy.
“We drafted Carson to be the guy,” Pederson said. “We owe a lot of gratitude to Nick Foles for what he’s done.”
Oddsmakers waited to offer a line in the Eagles/Colts game until Wentz’ status was clear. When Pederson announced he would start on Sunday, the Eagles opened as 6.5-point favorites at home.
Week 2 showed just how much influence an MVP-caliber quarterback has in Las Vegas.
The uncertainty of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ knee throughout last week kept the Packers’ matchup against the Vikings off the board. When Rodgers’ was cleared to play, the line was made available to bettors Sunday morning.
Minnesota opened as 2.5-point favorites on the road, but Westgate sportsbook director Ed Salmons told ESPN without Rodgers in the lineup, “the line is on the other side of 7.”
The Missing Piece?
The return of Wentz, who was considered a leading MVP candidate before his injury last Dec. 10, could jumpstart a stagnant Eagles offense averaging less than 20 points per game so far this season.
Pederson said there are “no limitations” to what plays he’ll call with Wentz playing in his first game in nine months.
“I’m not gonna coach scared, I’m not gonna coach paranoid,” he said. “In my mind he’s cleared and there’s no need to hold back.”
The head coach acknowledged it might take his quarterback some time “to get back into the rhythm and flow of the game.”
The Eagles won outright as 1-point underdogs at home in Week 1 against Atlanta, but lost to Tampa Bay 27-21 as 3.5-point road favorites in Week 2.
“As exciting as it is to have him back, your starting quarterback, we still have some other areas to fix,” Pederson said.