On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed the fears of all Eagles fans – Carson Wentz has a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season.
He also continued to preach the “next man up” mentality. The Eagles have managed to reach an 11-2 record through this mentality already. They’ve lost key players like running back Darren Sproles, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, kicker Caleb Sturgis and future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters to season ending injuries already this season and have continued their dominant run. All hope is not yet lost. The next man up now is quarterback Nick Foles.
While he isn’t an MVP caliber quarterback like Carson Wentz, Foles is a good quarterback. One might argue that he is the best backup in the league behind Case Keenum. Some may look at his 2013 season and argue he is better than many other starting quarterbacks in the league and some may look at his 2015 season and argue that he is one of the worst. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
In 2013, Foles went to the Pro-Bowl. That happens when you throw 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions and produce a 119.2 quarterback rating in 13 games. He was simply wonderful, but we must also remember that this was in Chip Kelly’s first year in the NFL when he was taking the league by storm. It would be unreasonable to assume that he can produce at that level now, especially considering his play since then.
In 2015, Foles started for a very young Rams team that had not yet turned the corner. His head coach was Jeff Fisher, who is not known for making quarterbacks look good. The aforementioned Case Keenum started the season after Foles with a slightly more experienced team and also looked bad. This season, Keenum has lead the Vikings to a 9-2 record in his 11 starts. It would be wrong to hold all of the mistakes made by a young team and a head coach that is no longer in the sport against Foles.
Foles actually has a lot going for him. He has started for the Eagles before. Although he lacks chemistry with the wide receivers and running backs currently on the roster, he is familiar with all three tight ends and with a few of his offensive lineman. He can rely on that chemistry to help build the chemistry with the rest of the first-team offense. He is familiar with the offense and with head coach Doug Pederson, who was in house for the Eagles when they drafted Foles. He also has playoff experience. The Eagles may have lost his one playoff start in 2013, but there was no way Foles was at fault for that. He completed 23 of his 33 pass attempts, averaged 5.9 yards per catch and threw two touchdowns to no interceptions. Having playoff experience is one thing, but having experience playing well in the playoffs is even better.
Foles also has a fairly enviable task in the coming three weeks. While he knocks the rust off and builds chemistry, he needs only to win two of the next three games. He will face the beaten down Giants (2-11), who give up an average of 395.7 yards per game, in New York, then have two home games against the struggling Raiders (6-7) and the Cowboys (7-6). These are winnable games. Perhaps the ideal schedule to get the Eagles offense going under a new quarterback. The Giants are giving up an average of 5.8 yards per play while the Raiders are not doing much better at 5.77 yards per play. If Foles can win those two games, the Eagles don’t really even need to play him against the Cowboys – they can play now backup Nate Sudfeld, whom they protected from other teams earlier this year, to see what he has to offer.
Let’s not forget that two of the biggest threats to the Eagles in the NFC are the Vikings, who are starting their own backup quarterback, and the Rams, whom the Eagles were trailing when Foles came in to defeat them last Sunday.
So what does this all mean? It means that Foles is a decent quarterback with some good things going for him. Will he be the hero that puts the team on his back and carries them along? Will he play at an MVP caliber as Wentz had done nearly all season? No, but he should not be a terrible liability. The Eagles have routinely been described as the “most complete” team in the NFL this season. With help from the defense, special teams, his offensive line and his running back corps, Foles has the potential to take the Eagles for a run deep into the offseason.
When Foles re-signed with the Eagles this offseason, he commented on how he had missed the Philadelphia fans. The fans should not let him down now and need to show their faith in their “new” quarterback through continued support, enthusiasm and optimism.
Watch his press conference from yesterday below: