Doug Pederson Names Nick Foles Eagles' Starting QB vs. Falcons over Carson Wentz

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, left, and quarterback Nick Foles warm up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles named Nick Foles their starting quarterback for the team's Week 1 game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly.

Head coach Doug Pederson announced the decision Monday, saying it was in the "best interest" of the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Wentz, who suffered a torn ACL in December, stated throughout the rehab process his goal was to return in time for the season opener. The most recent update from Pederson confirmed the 2017 MVP candidate hadn't been cleared for contact, though.

"I don't know how many times I can answer this question," Pederson told reporters Sunday. "When they clear him, he'll be cleared."

Wentz, 25, completed 60.2 percent of his throws for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions across 13 appearances before the knee injury last season. The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft added 64 carries for 299 yards.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the league's sixth-best quarterback.

Foles struggled in relief of the North Dakota State product during the regular season. He posted a 56.4 percent completion rate for 537 yards with five TDs and two picks in seven games (three starts).

The 29-year-old Texas native found another gear during the Eagles' Super Bowl run, though.

He connected on 72.6 percent of his attempts en route to 971 yards and six touchdowns across the team's three playoff games. He capped the postseason with three TD passes and a TD catch in Philadelphia's thrilling 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

"It doesn't matter if it's first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-string snaps—any time you get a snap and get to go out there and practice, you build a database of information," Foles told reporters in July. "Good, bad, whatever it may be, just the ability to be out there feeling great, healthy—it's a wonderful thing."

He added: "Really focusing on what I have to do right now … no matter what role I'm playing. It alleviates everything around me and makes everything a lot more simple."

Ultimately, Wentz didn't have enough time to gain full clearance, so the Eagles are handing the keys to the offense back to Foles. The key question is whether his play will be closer to his performance during last year's regular season or playoffs.

It's uncertain when Wentz will be cleared to return, but the offensive unit possesses far more upside when he's on the field, so he should slot right back in as the starter when healthy. Foles should keep the talent-laden roster competitive until then, though.

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