Eagles shut down Carson Wentz. Philadelphia no longer has a shot at winning the NFC East, but the club still has roughly a 15% chance of getting into the postseason via the NFC’s No. 6 seed. The Eagles aren’t taking any chances with their franchise quarterback, however, as they’ve reportedly decided to shut down Wentz for the rest of the season. While Wentz hasn’t officially been placed on injured reserve, he’s not expected to play again in 2018 as he recovers from a fracture in his back. Instead, Philadelphia will turn to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who is likely to become a free agent in 2019 after the Eagles decline his $20MM option.
Changes in Oakland…Reggie McKenzie‘s days with the Raiders appeared numbered as soon as head coach Jon Gruden was given a 10-year contract earlier this year, but the two men insisted they’d be able to work together. That stance lasted only until December, as McKenzie was relieved of his general manager duties last week. Director of college scouting Shaun Herock has been installed as Oakland’s interim GM, but the team is expected to search for a new personnel chief this offseason. Undoubtedly, the Raiders will look for a GM that will work more closely with — or perhaps, take orders from — Gruden.
…and in Minnesota. McKenzie and Gruden never seemed like an ideal pairing, and neither did Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Zimmer, of course, won that battle in Minnesota, and DeFilippo — who was viewed as a rising head coach candidate — now finds himself out of job. DeFilippo’s pass-happy offense never seemed to complement Zimmer’s defense-first style, so new OC Kevin Stefanski will now attempt to implement a more run-heavy approach. Don’t look for DeFilippo to return to the Eagles (at least in 2018), but he could be in line for a new coaching gig next year.
Eric Berry returns in Kansas City. The Chiefs didn’t make any moves for a defender at the trade deadline (despite rumors that they were looking for a safety), but KC will now see the return of a former All-Pro. Berry hadn’t seen the field since Week 1 of the 2017 campaign, when a ruptured Achilles ended his season prematurely and kept him out until last Thursday. Berry’s return will help a middling Chiefs pass defense, but the unit took another hit against the Chargers when starting cornerback Kendall Fuller went down with a fractured wrist, leaving his availability for the playoffs in doubt.
NFL bans Martavis Bryant indefinitely. Rumors of a Bryant suspension had been making the rounds since September, but the league never made a formal announcement until last week, meaning Bryant will be out of football for the foreseeable future due to a substance abuse ban. Oakland shipped a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for Bryant during the draft, then released him and re-signed him just before Week 2. All told, the “White Tiger” managed only 19 receptions and 266 scoreless yards on the year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.