Philadelphia Eagles incumbent backup quarterback Nick Foles had by far one of the best games, if not the best game of his life in the NFC Conference Championship game late Sunday Evening. He threw for 352 yards and 3 TD’s as the Philadelphia Eagles trampled the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 38-7 at Lincoln Financial Field and iced the team’s 3rd Super Bowl bid in franchise history. Thus bringing his NFL career full circle.
The 6’5″, 240 lb. pocket passer was the No. 88 overall pick in the illustrious 2012 NFL draft by way of the University of Arizona by the Philadelphia Eagles. Known as a solid pocket passer with a booming arm, he was brought in to be the heir apparent to then starting quarterback Michael Vick. However, he would serve only as a backup and be limited to play in only 6 games that year in spot duty.
After putting together a rather solid end to the 2012 season for an injured Vick, throwing for 1,700 yards, 6 TD’s, and completing 61% of his passes, Nick Foles would seize the Eagles’ starting quarterback gig for good the following season starting in Week 6. In a matchup against the New York Giants, Foles would go on to have a solid game, completing 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and 2 TD’s in a 31-16 victory. This, however was only the tip of the iceberg.
Foles saved his absolute best performance of the season (and his career until Sunday) for Week 8. He went on to having a record setting performance against the Oakland Raiders and their porous defense. Only attempting 28 passes (completing 22), he threw 7 touchdown passes in a 49-21 lynching by the Eagles. He could not miss the entire game. There was absolutely no answer for him.
No one seemed to find an answer for Nick Foles and the Eagles offense led by Chip Kelly. Foles did not throw an interception (that counted) until Week 13 in a win against the Detroit Lions in a game that Eagles fans simply refer to as ‘The Snow Bowl’.
The Eagles would finish the season at 10-6, just barely making the Wild Card. Foles finished the year completing 203 of 317 passes for 2,891 yards, 27 TD’s and just 2 INT’s. He then iced off his remarkable season by making good on a bid for the Pro Bowl.
The Eagles, nonetheless would be defeated in the Wild Card game by the New Orleans Saints on a 33 yard Shayne Graham field goal as time expired. They won the game, 26-24. It was a very sour playoff exit that left many wondering what could have been had the Eagles had the ball last.
The next season, Foles regressed and struggled mightily to match the genius of his 2013 season. He completed only 186 of 311 passes (59.8%) for just 2,163 yards, 13 TD’s & 10 INT’s. He also battled injuries and ultimately missed the last 8 games of the season with a broken collarbone.
In the offseason, the Eagles pulled the plug prematurely on the Nick Foles experiment and traded him to the Rams for QB Sam Bradford. In an effort to ‘revitalize’ his career, Foles was never able to find a consistent rhythm within the offense and went on to struggle even worse (went 4-7 in 11 games as the starter; 56.4% completion, 2,052 yards, 7 TD’s, 10 INT’s) than his last season. He would eventually lose his starting job to the at the time erratic and unproven Case Keenum.
Not to mention, the team was gut as far as playmakers being available was concerned and his head coach at the time Jeff Fisher, was awful. This pairing was a nightmare from Day 1. Everything fell through and the Rams finished the year 4-12. After realizing the trade was a flop, the then St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead cut the 4 year passer on July 27, 2016.
Frustrated and in search of a new team, Foles then signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs on August 5th. It reunited him with his 1st NFL head coach, Andy Reid. Foles was brought in to serve as a backup to Alex Smith in the 2016 season. In only 3 appearances (1 start), he was decent and wasn’t asked to do too much. After only attempting 55 passes (completing 36) with the Chiefs, he became a free agent again after the season.
Foles was on the market as a free agent for barely a week when the Philadelphia Eagles made the call to bring back the embattled passer. He would serve as the backup to 2016 No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz.
Wentz rode high and mighty throughout the 2017 season, throwing for over 4,300 yards and 33 TD’s and finishing 2nd in MVP voting. Then on an ill fated scramble attempt against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14, a nasty collision between he and Rams defenders Mark Barron and Morgan Fox shredded his ACL and forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Nick Foles would be called on to start vs. the Giants the very next week. To the surprise of many, Foles picked apart their defense to the tune of 237 yards and 4 TD’s. The Eagles won the game, 34-29 and moved to 12-2 on the season. The next week vs. Oakland on Christmas would paint a different picture, however.
Foles was sacked 5 times, completed half of his 38 attempts, and went an egrious 1 for 15 on 3rd down conversions. The Eagles still won the game, 19-10. However, Foles regressed yet again in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. He threw a pick in only 8 pass attempts and the Eagles were blanked 6-0.
Even though Philadelphia was the best team in the NFL at 13-3, all of the Super Bowl aspirations surrounding this team were gone. Everyone had thrown in the towel. Then something happened. Nick Foles came to life in the Divisional playoff game vs. Atlanta.
After throwing a duck to start the game, he finished with 246 yards while completing 23 of 30 passes. He hit his receivers often, took care of the ball, and had absolute command over the offense. Something he failed to show in the final 2 regular season games. The Eagles won the game, 15-10 and set up a date for the NFC Conference Championship with Minnesota.
Facing a much stronger defense and a reckless, ravenous home crowd, Foles did not back down from the pressure. He consistently dropped dimes on the Minnesota Vikings’ secondary who seemed to leave receivers open in nearly every play.
The play of the game by far was a 53-yard rainbow in which he slid out of a tackle to hit a wide open Alshon Jeffrey who, of course, was uncovered. Terence Newman lost him around the 25 yard line. Harrison Smith blew the help coverage and it was an easy 6. At that time, the Philadelphia lead had ballooned to 21-7.
Foles’ final stat line for the game: 26/33 passes, 352 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INT’s. It was a performance that stunned everybody, especially the people who were at Lincoln Financial Field. It was almost like Carson Wentz wasn’t even on the team anymore. Late in the game, Eagles fan had a little bit of fun with Vikings fans. Trolling their ‘SKOL’ chant, the 68,000+ Eagles clapped their hands and said ‘Foles! Foles! Foles’. It went on for about a good 2 to 3 minutes.
When I saw Nick Foles talk to reporters after the game, I saw a guy who looked relieved that he had won. Elated that he was able to help the team that drafted him get to the stage they so desperately wanted to go.
The awful taste of the early playoff exit and his exit from Philly are now a thing of the past. Now whether or not the Eagles win the Super Bowl, I’m sure Nick Foles feels much more differently than he did five years ago. This is a redemption tale for the ages.