The Eagles’ re-signing of Nick Foles to back up Carson Wentz seemed like such an innocuous story when it broke in March. The space between the Super Bowl and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is annually a sports news dead zone. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament helps, but mainly it’s the death throes of the hockey and pro basketball seasons that keep the news flow churning as everyone waits for the playoffs and for baseball. Foles’ return to Philadelphia was just a curious coincidence, a story that everyone hoped would never carry any real consequence.
Those were simpler times. It is also fair to say that not everybody wholeheartedly endorsed the move:
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) March 13, 2017
Foles will start his third career playoff game for the Eagles on Sunday. More notably, he will become the third quarterback in the history of the franchise to start an NFC Championship game in the Super Bowl era. Ron Jaworski, Donovan McNabb…and Foles. That’s the list.
If Sunday’s game against the Vikings is Foles’ last start as an Eagle, he will still have built enough of a body of work to commit his name to memory for Eagles’ fans. To be fair, so much of his work was for nondescript teams that it’s easy to forget that Foles has now started games for the Eagles in four different regular seasons.
Foles spent the end of the 2012 season mopping up for a 4-12 unit that got Andy Reid fired. Foles only won one of the six starts he made at the end of that season after Michael Vick went down with a “pretty significant concussion.” Think about what qualified as a significant concussion in 2012. Vick was probably close to clinically dead. Foles didn’t do a lot to distinguish himself as the starter — but he did beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a touchdown throw to Jeremy Maclin on the final play of the game.
Not surprisingly, though, with Chip Kelly at the helm in 2013, Foles wasn’t exactly a threat to Vick’s claim to the starting job as the new season dawned. Once Vick beat the Washington Redskins to begin the 2013 season, Foles was back to being a very tall clipboard holder. It wouldn’t last.
Vick was never the healthiest quarterback, so it came as little surprise that Vick left the Week 5 game with the New York Giants after injuring a hamstring. The surprise was that Foles never let him get the job back.
Foles’ 2013 season was as revelatory as it was unexpected. For ten weeks, he could do little-to-nothing wrong. He threw seven touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders. He beat the Packers in Green Bay (all right, yeah, it was Scott Tolzien quarterbacking the Pack, but still.) Beginning in Oakland, Foles won seven of his last eight starts to turn 4-5 into 10-6 and a home playoff game, throwing 27 touchdowns and two interceptions for the season.
And yes, it ended in tears with another Eagles home playoff failure against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, but as you may have heard once or twice recently, Foles left the field that night with the lead.
Four years later, Foles has come back once again to try to save another season after a better, more athletic quarterback couldn’t stay on the field. So far, he’s doing it again.
Photo Credit: Richard Deutsch, USA TODAY
Foles’ play at the end of the Eagles’ win over the Rams in Los Angeles was crucial to the win that clinched a playoff bye. The following week, Foles played an outstanding game against the New York Giants in the Meadowlands to help secure the Eagles home field throughout the playoffs. Yes, he was subpar on Christmas night against the Raiders. But he won.
Doubted again last weekend, Foles did just enough to lead the Eagles past the Atlanta Falcons and into this weekend’s conference title game. For the second time this postseason, Foles’ team will be a home underdog almost exclusively because it’s him playing quarterback and not the man he had to replace.
If Foles wins Sunday, he will almost certainly become the third Eagles quarterback to start a Super Bowl. If he can somehow win two more games in a row, Foles would become an icon in this city and one of the most unlikely Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks this side of Jeff Hostetler and Brad Johnson. Even if he doesn’t survive Sunday, though, it is impossible to say that Foles has ever been better in his career than he has been as a Philadelphia Eagle.
It would be nice if we could remember all of this city’s professional athletes so fondly.