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What’s next for Nick Foles?

Nov 4, 2013, 4:45 PM EDT

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Like everybody else, I’m having a little trouble wrapping my head around what Nick Foles accomplished in an Eagles uniform on Sunday. On one hand, I don’t care who you are or what the situation is, seven touchdowns in one game is damn impressive. There’s a reason only six other players in the 94-year history of the NFL have done it.

On the other hand, it was against the Raiders. Forget the rankings, they looked clueless. Oakland’s pass rush was nonexistent, cornerbacks were falling down all over the place and nobody even bothered to cover LeSean McCoy on his 25-yard touchdown reception. That was a bad team.

Then there is Foles’ baggage. He was a third-round draft pick. He lost an open competition for the starting quarterback job to Mike Vick over the summer (however narrowly). And when the opportunity presented itself again for Foles to cement himself in that role, the second-year passer played the worst game of his career against Dallas.

In the span of three games, Foles went from Offensive Player of the Week to a 37.9 completion percentage and 2.8 yards per attempt to etching his name into the record books. Foles is 24-years-old and has made nine career starts, yet he’s already experienced unimaginable highs and lows.

Who is Nick Foles? Nobody knows for sure right now—but everybody should be intrigued.

The numbers speak for themselves. Foles is averaging 8.7 yards per attempt this season. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns passes with zero interceptions. His 127.4 passer rating would lead the league if he had enough attempts to qualify.

It’s the things that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet though. Even as a rookie playing in his first NFL preseason game, Foles seemed to possess almost uncanny pocket presence. He instinctively slides away from pressure, but his eyes remain locked down the field rather than on the 300-lb. defensive lineman inside his facemask.

Foles is tough like that. He’s not afraid to stand in the pocket and take a hit. He’s got a prototypical 6’6”, 243-lb. frame, so he can absorb a few.

Foles’ arm strength is better than advertised as well. He’s usually very accurate, makes sound decisions with the football, and has what’s been dubbed as “functional mobility.”

Sounds like a great player. Why are we so mind-blown over his amazing performance on Sunday?

It’s his pedigree. The overwhelming majority of NFL starting quarterbacks are taken in the first round of the draft—Foles went in the third. He never produced a bowl victory at the esteemed University of Arizona, where he compiled a 15-18 record as a starter including a four-win season his senior year. You can understand why people are hesitant to label this kid a franchise quarterback.

It’s his track record too, or lack thereof. With the win over the Raiders, Foles’ record in the NFL improved to 3-6. Those three victories are against opponents with a combined 10-22 record. And while Foles has typically demonstrated steady improvement from one game to the next, there are still outliers such as his abysmal game against the Cowboys in Week 7.

There is only one way Foles can put those doubts and more to rest and that is by beating some decent teams or at the very least stringing together several quality weeks in a row. He hasn’t acchieved either of those feats yet, and until he does it’s perfectly fair to be skeptical even of seven-touchdown performances.

But it’s never really been about labels or what people believe. Neither Chip Kelly nor Howie Roseman and not even Jeffrey Lurie can wave a magic wand one day, and poof, Foles is the franchise quarterback.

There are only two ways a player is elevated to that status. One is he’s selected in the first round of the draft and handed the reins. The other is he plays his way into that position.

Fans and analysts can’t petition for somebody to be named a franchise quarterback. He simply is or he isn’t.

Time will tell whether or not Foles ever earns that status in Philadelphia—he hasn’t yet. Franchise quarterbacks all had to ascend from somewhere though, and labeled or not, Foles’ history-making afternoon on Sunday may very well have been the origin of one.

  1. 2sentz - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    “Foles is 24-years-old and has made nine career starts, yet he’s already experienced unimaginable highs and lows.”

    Great point Mr. Kulp. No QB has ever come close to starting out like this, and anyone who claims to know what next week brings is a dang fool. Who’s crazy enough to put money on this team either way right now? But that said it’s damn fun to watch.

    Reply
  2. duce - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Don’t think I’ve ever been so torn on the ability of a player than I am with Nick Foles, literally have no idea what the Eagles have in this kid. That said, we need to see him every week -it’s clear Vick isn’t a long-term option and this team isn’t good enough all-around to randomly win some games in the playoffs as a contender. Viva Foles.

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    • Andy Schreiber - Nov 5, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      Vick has had exactly one great HALF of a game in about 3 years. That ship has sailed, the horse is out of the barn, . . . .

      Foles is a player that the Eagles MUST get a good look at. They very well could have their franchise QB already. If so, next year’s draft will be much different.

      You just never know. If the O-line keeps playing well, we could win some games down the stretch & win the division.

      Reply
  3. Hiccup - Nov 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    What an amazing turn around for a third round draft pick, from lifeless loss to the hated Cowboys, concussed and out last week to blow out against the Raiders. That said that being said to but that said bring on the Chargers!

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  4. icdogg - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    You’ve summed the Foles enigma up well.

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  5. erzug - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    I think the pressures of playing at home are much more significant than on the road, especially when the home team hasn’t won a game in it’s last (at the time against Dallas) eight tries. As the home losing streak continues to grow, so does the pressure. Most of it falls on the QB, of course.

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  6. Tom - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    He needs a sport psychologist to get his head straight.

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  7. zmot - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    We collectively care too much about how much a QB “wins” in college. What did Foles have around him at UA?

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  8. Andy Schreiber - Nov 5, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Pretty small sample size, but I’d say that the positives FAR outweigh the negatives.

    The offense certainly runs far better with Foles under center.

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  9. Steve - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    Nick Foles should be named the starter for the rest of the year.The way he bounced back after the Dallas game says alot about him.Vick should not start another game.Foles had showed improvement from game to game and has one bad game in his short career. I think Coach K isn’t naming him the starter because he doesn’t want to cause a problem with the players who look up to Vick and want him as the starter.Bottom line is Foles deserves a shot to see how good he can be.I hope Vicks hamstring only stays tight and sore for another seven weeks or so and then he and his brother can head for another town.

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