USA Today Sports

Is Wentz injury prone? The numbers say...

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 14, 2018 - 7:59 am

Another season is coming to a close, and once again, the Eagles' starting quarterback is set to end it on the bench. 

It isn't a guarantee that Carson Wentz won't play again in 2018, but it is sure looking that way after multiple reports on Thursday stated the Eagles' franchise player has a fracture in his back, an injury that will sideline him this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and likely the final two games as well. 

The back injury comes almost one year to the day of Wentz being shut down for a torn ACL/LCL. 

Add in the broken ribs Wentz suffered as a rookie, and there has been plenty of debate over the last few days on if Wentz deserves to be labeled "injury prone", or if the Eagles can count on him to stay healthy going forward. The fact that Wentz is eligible for a new contract this offseason, one that could be worth up to $100 million guaranteed, only adds to the pressure of the Eagles having to decide whether the quarterback they drafted at No. 2 overall can stay healthy enough to commit to long term. 

So far in three seasons with the Eagles, Wentz has suffered three significant injuries:

Significant injuries: broken ribs, torn ACL/LCL, back injury 

Games missed: 8 in 3 seasons  

Percentage of games played: 83% 

If Wentz doesn't play again this season, which seems to be the case, he will end up missing eight games and playing in 83% of games since being selected at No. 2 overall. There is no denying that timing played a role in Wentz only missing 17% of games. If Wentz tore his ACL in Week 4 last year, or suffered his broken ribs in Week 1 his rookie year, that number would be way higher. So the games missed don't tell the whole story of Wentz's ability to stay healthy. Still, the injuries occurred when they did, and over three seasons, Wentz has been on the field 83% of the games. 

That percentage of games played is lower than other prominent quarterbacks around the league. 

Here is a look at 14 prominent quarterbacks, and how much time they have missed during their career, since being named the starting quarterback. I tried to pick a mixture of the best quarterbacks in the league -- which is where Wentz wants to be -- with some young players, as well as a few down the middle. 

1. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

Significant injuries: Torn ACL, concussion 

Games missed: 0 games missed in 13 years

Percentage of games played: 100%

2. Russel Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Significant injuries: MCL sprain, ankle sprain 

Games missed: 0 missed games in 7 years

Percentage of games played: 100%

3. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Significant injuries: None 

Games missed: 0 missed games in five seasons 

Percentage of games played: 100%

4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Significant injuries: None 

Games missed: 0 in three years 

Percentage of games played: 100%

5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Significant injuries: Shoulder sprain, turf toe

Games missed: 2 games missed in 11 years

Percentage of games played: 98%

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Significant injuries: Torn plantar facia in right foot, bruised rotator cuff, torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff

Games missed: 5 games missed in 17 years

Percentage of games played: 98%

7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Significant injuries: Knee strain, rotator cuff tear, concussion, back vertebral fracture, rib fracture 

Games missed: 3 games in 8 years 

Percentage of games played: 97%

8. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Significant injuries: Shoulder sprain 

Games missed: 3 games in four years 

Percentage of games played: 95%

9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Significant injuries: Torn ACL in 2008

Games missed: 19 games missed in 18 years

Percentage of games played: 93%

10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers 

Significant injuries: Two times shoulder clavicle fracture, two concussions, foot fracture

Games missed: Has missed 18 games in 11 seasons 

Percentage of games played: 89% 

11. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Significant injuries: Knee meniscus tear, Shoulder sprain, foot sprain, MCL sprain, finger dislocation, shoulder separation, rib separation, sprained ankle, thumb fracture, concussion, Achilles pull, concussion

Games missed: Missed 24 games in 15 years

Percentage of games played: 89%

12. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Significant injuries: Finger fracture, shoulder sprain, shoulder separation, dislocated knee  

Games missed: 19 games in 10 years

Percentage of games played: 87%

13. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Significant injuries: Concussion, abdomen tear, shoulder labrum tear

Games missed: 26 games in six years

Percentage of games played: 72%

14. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Significant injuries: Shoulder sprain, torn ACL 

Games missed: 14 games in three seasons 

Percentage of games played: 44% (percentage of games he was supposed to start for Patriots and 49ers; doesn't include time on the bench behind Brady)

Overall Average for the 14 quarterbacks: 89.7%

As you can see, assuming Wentz doesn't play the rest of this season, he will come in about 7% lower than the average of these 14 quarterbacks. The fact Wentz has only played three seasons also helps, but if he doesn't start to stay on the field at a higher pace than he is now, he will end up much lower than the quarterbacks on this list. On average, Wentz is missing 2.6 games per season. If Wentz were to play 10 seasons with the Eagles, and stay at the same pace, he would miss 26 games. The 83% would place him 13th on that list of quarterbacks, and far below the players at the top of the list. 

There is no denying that football is a physical game, and it is hard for any quarterback to stay healthy. Even the quarterbacks who have played a higher percentage of their games than Wentz have suffered serious injuries. Brady tore an ACL. Rodgers fractured his collarbone. Garoppolo signed a huge deal and then tore his ACL. There is no way to prevent a quarterback from being hurt or to predict the future. If you have the quarterback you believe is talented enough to carry your team, you pay him and cross your fingers. 

Still, Wentz is finding himself dealing with injuries -- and on the sideline -- at a higher rate than the other prominent quarterbacks in this league. You can debate if that makes him "injury prone" or not, but the fact that is happening at such a young age should be concerning for the Eagles going forward. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at [email protected]!

Tags: