How Carson Wentz, Nick Foles navigate a 'tricky' situation

PHILADELPHIA -- The most recent version of the "Philly Special" was thrown by Carson Wentz, and it wasn't weird at all.

The quarterbacks were going through individual drills at the Philadelphia Eagles minicamp Wednesday. Assistant coaches and trainers ran into the flat as the QBs worked on their three-step drops. But when Wentz's turn came up, Nick Foles stepped in and ran the route, which mirrored his path during the now-famous fourth-and-goal touchdown catch against the Patriots that helped propel the Eagles to their first title in 57 years.

One of the most memorable images from the Super Bowl celebration in Minneapolis is of Wentz with his hand affectionately on Foles' head, both players gripping the Lombardi Trophy while being showered with green and white confetti. A less circulated image is the one of Wentz sitting at his locker stall a few moments later, doubled over with his head near his knees as "We Are the Champions" played over the loudspeaker. After a word from a teammate, Wentz rose, wiped his face and continued congratulating his teammates.

It's hard to know exactly how much it hurt him to not be on the field that day and deliver the city its first-ever Super Bowl win himself, but placing yourself in his shoes quickly gives you an idea of the type of emotions that must have pulsated through him, and perhaps pulsate through him still.

The same exercise brings an understanding of what it must be like for Foles, who led the team on a run for the ages and went blow-for-blow with Tom Brady en route to a Super Bowl MVP, and now must recede into the shadows and hand back the reins, not knowing exactly when he'll get to command an NFL huddle again.

All of this makes the breeziness of their interactions all the more striking. At one point Thursday, on the last day of minicamp, Wentz, Foles and the rest of the quarterbacks had a friendly accuracy competition to see who could hit the crossbar in the fewest amount of throws, the group smiling -- and maybe busting some chops -- along the way. A beat earlier, Wentz and Foles stood side-by-side as Nate Sudfeld worked the offense and simultaneously raised their arms above their heads like twins when Sudfeld dropped a dime into the corner of the end zone. They're sharing a locker wall, sharing reps, and in some ways, sharing the allegiance of their teammates, and yet signs of any tension in their relationship are hard to detect.

"I think the big thing is we're honest with one another, and our friendship has always come first," Foles said. "I know at times when he's injured and watching me play, that's difficult, but at the same time, he's always been extremely supportive.

"It's definitely a different dynamic, but at the same time, it wouldn't work if him and I weren't such great friends and understanding of each other. That's a big piece of it that people don't probably understand, because it gets a little tricky -- but not for us because we're handling it like men in the locker room. At the end of the day, we want the team to be successful whoever is back there at quarterback."

Sudfeld likened the quarterbacks to brothers. They bust each other's chops and are highly competitive, whether they're throwing darts, playing Pop-A-Shot in the locker room or out on the practice field.

"Nick is kind of the older guy, a little more laid back than Carson," Sudfeld said. "We can joke with each other and talk about music or talk about just random stuff."

They also share a mutual faith, which Wentz believes has been the key to keeping their bond strong in unique circumstances.

"That kind of just breaks down every barrier, every wall," Wentz said. "We realize there's so much more to this life and such a bigger purpose out there than arguing over a lot of little things."

Wentz was a top candidate for league MVP last season before tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee against the Los Angeles Rams in December. He finished second in the NFL with 33 touchdown passes and led the team to an 11-2 record, positioning the Eagles as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. After a rocky start, Foles caught fire during the playoffs, completing 73 percent of his passes and throwing six touchdowns to one interception, including three TD strikes in Super Bowl LII.

Foles is now an icon in Philadelphia. He recently joked about the awkwardness of meeting a fan who had Foles' face tattooed across his entire back. He's held in high esteem by owner Jeffrey Lurie and the front office and has the full respect of his peers. Starting right guard Brandon Brooks even restructured his contract so the Eagles could give Foles a new deal this offseason.

Still, there is no haziness when it comes to whose team this is.

"You ask anyone, Carson is the leader of this team," said tight end Zach Ertz. "I think when he went down, everyone kind of elevated their own level of leadership, and when Carson comes back, I think everyone kind of defers to him."

Wentz opened some eyes during offseason workouts. He looks more mobile and participated more than expected. The goal for a return remains Week 1.

Foles can earn $500,000 per game under his restructured contract, which includes $14 million worth of incentives and a mutual option for 2019. He'll be rewarded if he does end up playing a significant amount this year and will have the opportunity to find a starting gig next season.

Despite some trade chatter, the Eagles set a high asking price, and Foles was not moved during the QB carousel cycle earlier this offseason. While it's still possible he's dealt, a la Sam Bradford a couple seasons back, for now it appears the Super Bowl MVP and the would-be league MVP will continue to exist in the same space. While there's some level of awkwardness that comes with that dynamic, Wentz and Foles are finding a way to make it work.

"You want what's best for the team," Foles said. "Ultimately, Carson is getting ready to play. He's getting healthy. But at the same time, I'm ready to go out there and play. I think I've shown that. But it takes more than one person to make a team. That's what's beautiful about this team.

"Everyone puts their egos to the side when they walk into this building. They're all working for the Philadelphia Eagles. I think that's why we have something so special here."