Nobody knows exactly when Carson Wentz's left ACL tore on Sunday afternoon. The hit that was tied to the injury seemed rough but there appeared to be no twisting of the knee. It has been speculated that this as a non-contact injury. We may never know what exactly happened.
In steps Nick Foles, once a playoff quarterback for the Eagles after a stellar season in place of oft-injured Michael Vick. If there was ever a prototypical backup quarterback in the NFL, it'd be Nick Foles. Decent arm, plenty of smarts, and above average mobility. You tack on a history that's more impressive than not, and you come to the conclusion that the Philadelphia Eagles still have a shot to do damage in the NFC playoffs.
Now comes the tough part for Doug Pederson and the rest of his coaching staff: necessary adjustments.
1. Limit deep drops. Foles can extend plays momentarily, but he will not dance away from defenders and showcase impressive breakaway speed for a quarterback if he decides to run. It's just not going to happen. Don't put him on a hook and dangle him out there like bait.
2. Shorten the RB depth chart. The Eagles have to ride the hot hand at running back now. There's no sprinkling in a touch of Ajayi here, a few plays for Clement or Blount there. Pick somebody to lean on, and the obvious choice is Ajayi for his ability to generate extra yardage after contact. Second, in my opinion, would be Blount. The Eagles offense can't recover as well from TFL's now. No more fancy plays. No more stretch running plays. Foles hands ball, running back hits hole. Period.
3. Avoid 3rd and long at all costs. Nick Foles will not bail the Eagles out of countless 3rd and long situations like Wentz did. Pederson must focus on positive yardage as opposed to big plays, moving forward.
1. Balancing recklessness. This Eagles defense has had the luxury of an offense that they know will drop 30 most weeks. That's just not the case anymore. It's time for Jim Schwartz to scheme a little more in-game. When facing an immobile QB, the Eagles should blitz more. Against a QB that can escape the pocket, the Eagles may want to drop into coverage more, now. Carson Wentz afforded Jim Schwartz the option of being relentlessly aggressive each and every week. That simply isn't the case anymore. Now aggression is needed as part of a balance--it can no longer be constant.
1. Field position is much more important now with Nick Foles at QB. The Eagles should choose to punt more as opposed to extremely long field goals. I'd trust Elliott up to 52-53 because he's proven himself at this point, but anything more and Doug Pederson needs to consider flipping the field and trying to get Nick Foles a short field to work with. Unless the kick is absolutely necessary, play the field position game.
It's going to be difficult for the Eagles to reach their potential, now, but if this coaching staff rises to the occasion, anything is possible.