Let me preface this by saying that the preseason is utterly meaningless.
I’ll also reiterate that the Eagles offense was missing Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles last night.
So the 5-0 Browns loss doesn’t mean anything and the backup quarterback played with a backup left tackle, three backup running backs, and only one wide receiver from the starting unit (who happens to be new to the system). Oh, and the playbook was very vanilla, kept plain on purpose for strategic reasons.
Those three disclaimers considered, would you expect more from your Super Bowl-winning, veteran quarterback? Of course you would. You’d at least like to see a sustained scoring drive and a couple of consecutive completions. You’d like to see the total antithesis of two interceptions, a fumble, and a safety. You’d like to have some reassurance that Foles looks like himself going into the season opener against a good Falcons team.
But here’s the thing:
Foles does look himself. This is Nick Foles. He has always been a streaky, hot and cold player who hits very high highs and very low lows.
This is the same Foles who, in 2017, followed up four touchdowns and zero interceptions with 163 yards and a 59.4 quarterback rating in a home game:
This is the same Foles who, in 2016, put up a 135.2 QB rating on the road, then followed it up with an 86.3 rating at home:
This is the same Foles who, in 2015, sandwiched a 3 touchdown performance between total clunkers:
This is the same Foles who, in 2014, went from this to this in the span of seven days:
And this is the same Foles that threw for 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 2013 and compiled one of the best individual seasons of any Eagle in franchise history.
Please don’t feign concern when you see him struggling in a pointless preseason game. Don’t be surprised to see the severe ebbs and flows in his form, because that’s what he’s always been. The same Foles that looked atrocious against Oakland beat the tar out of the Giants and secured a win in Los Angeles one week prior in a very difficult fourth quarter situation after Carson Wentz left the game. That good form surfaced in the playoffs and helped the team win its first ever Super Bowl.
I think the problem is that people continue to evaluate Foles as if he’s the #1 on this team, when he’s not. Wentz is your starting quarterback and future of the franchise. It’s more fair to evaluate Foles on the same curve that we would evaluate a Case Keenum or a Chad Henne or a Matt Cassel – guys who have walked the line between starter and backup over the course of their careers.
And when you compare him to those guys, guess what? Nick Foles looks pretty damn good. He’s a top-three NFL backup, a guy who found his best form at the right time and carried his team to a title. It’s a wonderful sports story and goes down in permanent marker in the annals of Philadelphia history.
The point of the column, I guess, is to just ask everybody to take a step back and slice up the Birds with Occam’s Razor. Look at the most simple explanations for why Nick Foles struggled last night and has stumbled at times during his career:
- he’s a backup quarterback
- he didn’t have his best weapons on the field
- the offensive line play was very disappointing
- he has a history of putting up lousy performances every so often
I would not be worried, not in the least. Foles looked awful last night, but we’ve seen this so many times before. It’s a classic case of Jekyll and Hyde. Just hope the Super Bowl MVP shows up for week one, and not the 7-9 Saint Louis Rams version of Nick Foles.
The last time Nick Foles played against the Raiders in an Eagles uniform
— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) December 25, 2017