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How many and which NFL starting QBs would you take over Foles right now?

Nov 27, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT


A few days back, a long-time reader posed an interesting question on Twitter. To summarize, how many NFL quarterbacks would you rather have over Nick Foles right now? Seems like an appropriate question now that he’s officially been named the Eagles’ starter.

It’s difficult to answer, too. Foles still only has 11 starts under his belt, which amounts to less than a season’s worth. He’s playing lights-out football right now, yet he’s little more than a month removed from a putrid performance against Dallas. In short, Foles hasn’t quite cemented his status as a franchise quarterback, or in many eyes, even a very good player.

Plus, it’s all about perspective. Are we talking to win one game, or to build a franchise around? Are the players all under their current contracts? Suddenly, a lot more factors such as age and experience start coming into play when it’s not simply a matter of “Is A better than B?”

There’s no wrong way to answer though since it is a hypothetical, but I thought I’d give it a shot, and it became an interesting little exercise. To begin with, let’s automatically assume the following is presently true:

Most people would take Nick Foles over: Geno Smith, QB Browns, Case Keenum, Chad Henne, Jake Locker, Matt McGloin, Christian Ponder, Mike Glennon, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford.

Most people would not keep Nick Foles over: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Drew Brees.

That’s a little more than half the league’s quarterbacks down. Let’s take a closer look at the rest.

Nick Foles or E.J. Manuel?

There were rumors floating around last April that Chip Kelly might be interested in Manuel in the second round, but Buffalo snagged the Florida St. product in the first. He’s shown some promise for a rookie on a bad team, but accuracy is a concern, so defenses just limit his ability to run. Hell, Foles has more rushing yards this season, and he’s much further along in his development as a passer.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill?

Not much of a decision really. Tannehill has more than twice as many NFL starts under his belt, and looks pedestrian by comparison.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Joe Flacco?

Reigning world champion, Joe Flacco? This hasn’t been Flacco’s best season, yet he’s guided the Ravens to the playoffs and won at least one game every year since he entered the league in 2008. That streak is in jeopardy, but he’s already wearing a Super Bowl ring. No-brainer.

Pick: Flacco

Nick Foles or Andy Dalton?

Dalton doesn’t do anything especially well. He’s not the most accurate, he’s not the most prolific, he doesn’t have the biggest arm, he doesn’t possess above average size or athleticism for the position, he doesn’t win the most and he makes too many mistakes. You could do worse for an NFL starter, but I’d take my chances on Foles doing something special at this point.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Ben Roethlisberger?

There were some rumblings out of Pittsburgh that Big Ben, one of the most criminally underrated signal callers in the game, may seek a trade in the offseason. The line of suitors would be long if that ever came to pass. Roethlisberger continues to post excellent numbers year after year, he’ll only turn 32 next year, and he already has two rings.

Pick: Roethlisberger

Nick Foles or Andrew Luck?

Luck’s numbers aren’t the most impressive, but he had the Colts looking like a legit Super Bowl contender until the injuries began piling up. He’s done a lot already considering the state Peyton Manning left that franchise in. Plus, how many so-called “once-in-a-generation” prospects come around?

Pick: Luck

Nick Foles or Alex Smith?

It doesn’t matter what Smith’s record is the past three seasons, he’s not good enough to win the big one. Andy Reid attached himself to the wrong QB this time.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Philip Rivers?

A lot of people left Rivers for dead after a couple of crummy seasons, but he’s really turned it around this season. Tough call here. He’ll be 32 and he doesn’t have a great track record in the playoffs. I believe if you put him in the right situation though, he’s as good as almost anybody else out there. If it were a Super Bowl-or-bust season, give me Rivers.

Pick: Rivers

Nick Foles or Tony Romo?

This might not be much of a decision at all anywhere outside of Philly. Yes, Romo has the well-deserved reputation as a choke artist, but his numbers continue to be unreal. Foles has to prove he’s better.

Pick: Romo

Nick Foles or Eli Manning?

Normally you would give extra weight to a guy who’s won two championships already, but Eli is so frustratingly inconsistent. He turns 33 in January, so it’s possible he’s going to into steep decline. He’s not at sharp as his brother, so he probably won’t be able to play forever. This might be selling Eli short, but his regression is a major concern.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Robert Griffin III?

Call me crazy, but I’d still take RG3 over Foles if the decision had to be made today. Yes, Griffin is having an abysmal season, but how much of that stems from the torn ACL he suffered back in January? How vital for his development were all the missed practices and preseason games leading up to this season? How bad of a head coach is Mike Shanahan?

It’s entirely possible that even if Griffin was going to be a good NFL starter, Washington has already ruined him. The guy went No. 2 overall in the draft for a reason though. He has the tools. I’m not giving up on him yet.

Pick: Griffin

Nick Foles or Jay Cutler?

Part of me still sees a ton of upside in Cutler. Then you look at his age (31 next season), he already can’t stay healthy, the fact that he has just one playoff win, has never posted a passer rating in the 90s… looking at all of this more closely actually changed the opinion I held going in.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Colin Kaepernick?

Tough decision. Not unlike Foles, we don’t really know who Kaepernick is yet either. He’s nowhere near as sharp as he was a season ago, but the 49ers don’t have much in the way of weapons. Kaepernick certainly possesses the superior skill set. I must be running out of steam, because I’m just going to call it a push for now.

Pick: Undecided

Nick Foles or Russell Wilson?

Interesting comparison here, as it’s long been rumored it was Wilson and not Foles who the Eagles were after in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Wilson is a competent quarterback who rarely makes mistakes, but with a strong running game and suffocating defense, the Seahawks don’t ask him to carry the team too often. As such, his numbers are quality, but not prolific. My personal opinion is his limitations might begin to shine through after awhile if he was required to do more on a regular basis. Foles fits the prototype of an NFL quarterback better.

Pick: Foles


So in all, I was able to come up with 14 quarterbacks I would rather have than Foles right now, 16 , based on no firm criteria at all. In a quarterback-needy lead, middle of the pack seems reasonable to me, but who knows. It’s all in good fun.

I’m sure that could change drastically before the season is out, too. Now the question becomes will that number shrink or grow?

  1. ochospantalones - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Foles over Russell Wilson is insane. Wilson has a 102.1 career passer rating over 27 starts. He has a higher career completion percentage (64.1%) than Foles has this year (63.6%) in his good half-season. Not only should you take Wilson over Foles, you should take him over Matt Stafford and possibly Cam Newton as well.

    You seem to think Wilson is the one benefiting from his situation, but it’s not like the offensive talent surrounding Wilson is spectacular. Which of their receivers (other than Harvin, who has barely played) would you want?

    • Andrew Kulp - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Again, it’s my personal opinion, but I just feel he is more limited than those other QBs due to his size. If he had to put an NFL offense on his shoulders every week like Stafford or Newton do, I think he would be exposed. As it stands now, he’s usually playing with the lead and I would describe the play-calling as safe. By no means do I feel my opinion is definitive on this subject, but I’m just not sold that the kid is a star. I’m not sold Foles is either, but give me the prototype.

      Side note… Wilson has completed 0.5 percent more of his passes than Foles this year? What’s that, like two incomplete passes?

      • Old Middy - Nov 29, 2013 at 8:23 AM

        Really idiotic argument here, have you ever watched a Seahawk game? Play calling is safe? What are you basing that on? First couple games he started LAST YEAR that was true hasn’t been since.
        You might want to drop Bree’s down because the size thing has really limited him as well, huh?
        Love Nick Foles and have high hopes for what he may be able to accomplish but saying you’d take him over Wilson right now is insane.
        PS – loved that you gave credit to Flacco for his SB ring but disregarded Eli’s. I hate Eli too…

      • Andrew Kulp - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Suggesting Wilson’s size doesn’t matter because of Drew Brees would be like me comparing Nick Foles to Peyton Manning because they both threw seven touchdowns in a game once, or to Tom Brady because they both relieved the starting quarterback and started piling up wins. They have one thing in common, so just like that they’re related?

        Brees is the exception to the rule, not an indicator that short quarterbacks are a good thing. If Russell Wilson ever starts putting up numbers like that, then I’m wrong, so be it. Right now, he’s somebody who barely cracks the 3,000-yard milestone.

      • ochospantalones - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:45 PM

        “Wilson has completed 0.5 percent more of his passes than Foles this year? What’s that, like two incomplete passes?”

        You may want to go back and read what I actually wrote, as this is not responsive to it. To lay it out for you:

        Wilson has completed 428 passes in 668 career attempts. Prior to today Foles was 103 of 162. So yeah, having a higher completion percentage in a sample 4 times as large tells us something. Of course, Foles also had 265 attempts last year, but he was substantially worse than Wilson in those attempts so it does not help your cause to bring them in.

      • Andrew Kulp - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:07 AM

        You’re right, I missed the word “career” squeezed in there, my apologies. I still don’t think that makes a world of difference. Wilson is more accurate than Foles–although only slightly if recent trends continue–and while that is important, that’s not the only thing. I personally am willing to concede one full point of completion percentage for a quarterback who can actually see over the line of scrimmage.

        Anyway, I don’t begrudge anyone for disagreeing with my selection, but I made my case and stand by it. If it turns out I was wrong about Wilson’s upside, so be it.

      • ochospantalones - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        Refusing to update your priors on this seems pretty stubborn. I totally understand why if you were evaluating these two players prior to the 2012 draft you would look at them and say “I’ll take the big guy with the strong arm”. I would have said the same thing. But it’s not April 2012 anymore, we have actual performance in NFL games to look at. We have now seen Russell Wilson start 29 games and he’s been consistently excellent, including in the playoffs. If he were too short to play the position, shouldn’t that have turned up in his performance by now? 29 starts would be a pretty long fluke. Meanwhile Nick Foles (who I like, and would be happy to see return as the starter next year) has two wins against teams with a winning record, and one of those was the Packers playing a 3rd string QB.

      • Andrew Kulp - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        As I already explained, I believe the favorable situation in Seattle has contributed to Wilson’s success. I’m not saying he’s a fluke. On a team with a great defense and a strong running game, clearly can win at this level. So could a lot of other guys.

        But how would Wilson perform were he asked to do more? After tonight, he will be no higher than 20th in pass attempts despite playing every game this season–a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford would all be higher. Last season he finished tied for 25th, and even if you assumed all of his 94 rushing attempts were scrambles (which they weren’t) and assumed none of the other quarterbacks ever scrambled (which they did), he still would’ve been 19th. The ball isn’t in his hands that much. He’s not relied on the way most teams do their quarterback. Wilson’s job is easier than Foles’, and easier than most in the NFL, which is why I believe he’s overrated and not merely because of any prior-held beliefs.

        On the flip side, we actually have seen what Foles can do on a terrible team. For a rookie to play as well as he did last year behind that offensive line, with LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson out for most of his starts, and constantly playing from behind was damn impressive. Yeah, the numbers aren’t great, which is why if you want to make this all about statistics you have me beat.

        I, on the other hand, am projecting based on what I’ve seen of Wilson and what I know about short quarterbacks, what I think he might look like in Foles’ situation last year, and I think he would have done far worse with his center being pushed back into his face on every snap. And I am projecting what I’ve seen of Foles, which is more the prototype of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in the vein of the Brady, the Mannings, Roethlisberger, and Flacco. Am I saying he will be that? No, but based on what the two players have done to this point in their careers, I think there is a better chance Foles is that than Wilson is Drew Brees.

  2. psudrozz - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    not a chance i take foles over wilson at this point.

  3. Philly Keith - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I’ll take Big Ben over anyone you put on that comparison list. Roethlisberger deserve to be mentioned among the leagues elite. I’d also easily take him over Stafford, Newton, Ryan and maybe even Brees, who is a prime benefactor of great offensive line play over the years!

    • b - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      and that’s why you’re not a gm.

    • BenE. - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

      Offensive line is part of a QB’s success, but the offensive line doesn’t throw for 5,000 yards every year. What the hell?

  4. Chutley - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    …he needed at least one of these to stir the pot! Right now that trade has ‘Ed Wade’ potential, but the thought process is reasonable.

  5. Mike - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Joe Flacco is the most overrated QB in the league. The only reason Flacco has a SB ring is because of the athleticism his receivers showed making plays on his inaccurately thrown passes.

  6. Mostel - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Given age and talent and health, I’d only take the following guys over Foles:

    Peyton, Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Luck, Rivers, Big Ben, Wilson.

  7. Dan - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I would take Foles over anyone right now. Right now. Not in a make or break season. Not to start a franchise. But right now, I wouldn’t take anyone else. He is a hot hand in the game today.

    • Hiccup - Nov 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      I totally agree. Let’s see how the season plays out.
      Other than that I still appreciate your articles Mr. Kulp. Thanks for the analasis. I can’t wait for tommorrow .
      Eagles 21 Cardinals 17.

  8. Tyler - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Dont ever write an article on the eagles and chose a cowboys quarterback over our starter.

  9. 215-YOUR-MOM - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Is this actually a serious article?
    I think Foles is doing well, but needs to complete this season and also get some
    post season action before you can make a decision on him.
    Your criteria is for choosing is inconsistent.
    If your going to take Romo for is body of work, you can’t discredit Eli Manning, or tell us that you’d
    take RGIII who could also be in steep decline.
    If you feel that Foles and Russel Wilson are then same but your taking Foles based on size,
    then obviously any moron would take Wilson because of the speed that would help this system.
    Id trade Foles for Kapernick in a heartbeat, hes got size, speed and proven himself in the post season.
    So pretty much I just wasted 10 minutes on my life. I come to the700level to learn, not to have to rewrite contributors articles.

    • Qwest336 - Nov 29, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      I’m not going to say that I agree with his choices, but I have to defend him on the Eli Manning thing. If you look further into Eli Manning, you will see that he is probably the most consistently inconsistent “top-tier” QB to ever play the game. I’m pretty sure that if he continues to lead the league in interceptions, that this will be his third year doing so. This will be his fifth year with a completion percentage under 60%, which matches the player who we KILLED for his “inaccuracy”, Donovan McNabb. And this will be his fourth year with a rating under 80!

      I think the Foles over Wilson thing is ridiculous. But I’m take Superbowl wins for what they are worth…and Eli was not the reason that they won either of those two Superbowls. Sure they gave him the MVP, but Justin Tuck was CLEARLY the MVP of the both Superbowl wins…with 4 sacks and 5 QB hits, he is the reason Tom Brady never got comfortable enough to do what he does, limiting the Patriots to 31 points in two games.

      I, too, would take Foles over Eli at this point…though I have to admit that it is more due to age. Romo’s “body of work” is statistically much better than Eli’s.

      • 215-YOUR-MOM - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:58 AM

        my complaint isn’t totally with his picks
        my point is stay consistent on his course of reasoning
        dont just pick some names out of a hat and use the same point for one that is invalid for another
        to say kapernick doesnt have weapons, who does Foles really have lets be honest.
        Or cutler or romo arent good in the post season, how many playoff games has Foles won?
        I am not saying which ones are right or wrong but honestly this article isnt well put together,
        has very little logic or strategy.
        I think the title was interesting but it turned into old man ranting bar banter.

  10. reasonablemindsays - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    If you think Russell Wilson isn’t carrying the team right now, you need to start watching the games. He manages to be accurate, make a ton of plays out of nothing, while not turning the ball over, all at the same time. Obviously I wouldn’t put him in the same tier as Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers etc. but he’s clearly above the group you have him in.


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