Nick Foles has what could be his last chance to show that he can be the Philadelphia Eagles’ QB of the present and future. He will get the start against the Raiders, two weeks after the playing the worst game of his brief NFL career.
It’s also three weeks after the best game of his NFL career.
The question is, which game — vs. Tampa Bay or vs. Dallas — is the better indicator of Foles’ overall talent and ability to be an effective QB for the Eagles going forward?
As always, the answer is likely somewhere in the middle.
Based on his eight career starts, we can’t say that Foles is as bad as he looked against Dallas nor as good as he looked against the Bucs. As a third-round rookie playing with almost entirely backups last year, he did about as well as could be expected.
This season, with a new coach and scheme, he’s had two opportunites to start and his performances were polar opposites. Against Tampa he was in rhythm, sharp, decisive and accurate. Against Dallas he looked like Tim Tebow without the running ability.
Here’s the good news about that…
Tampa’s defense is ranked 14th in total yards per game and 19th against the pass. Dallas has the league’s worst ranked defense in total yards per game and are also ranked dead last against the pass.
In other words, Foles played good against a better defense and terrible against a bad defense when usually it’s the other way around.
Not that it’s the end-all-be-all, but it is a sign that supports the theory that Foles was just “off his game” against Dallas more-so than Dallas doing anything to stop him. And that definitely appears to be the case when you consider that Foles just simply missed several open receivers that game.
Plays were there to be made against Dallas, Foles just missed them. So, it’s much easier to chalk it up to a bad game by a QB making just his eigth career start. All young quarterbacks will have their ups and downs, right?
The downside is, the Dallas game was also the first game Foles has started where there was something on the line, i.e., there was some pressure on him. Last season when Foles took over, the Eagles were already 3-6 and the season was lost.
In a lost season as a rookie and playing with mostly backups, there couldn’t have been less pressure on Foles. Against Dallas, the division lead was on the line in a game that could have future playoff ramifications.
Therefore, it’s fair to question whether or not Foles was affected by the pressure and had a bad game because of it. If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for his future. Players need to play their best when the stakes are high.
In any case, Foles has another chance staring him in the face beginning this week against Oakland. Jeff Lurie went on record recently saying that the Eagles’ No. 1 priority is finding their next franchise quarterback.
He indicated that Foles now has a chance to show what he can do and that the team needs to figure out if they already have the next guy or if they need to acquire one somehow after this season.
From Lurie via an interview with CSNPhilly’s Geoff Mosher:
“We need someone to step up, whether it’s an existing young quarterback or somebody we go out and acquire,” Lurie said in an exclusive interview with CSNPhilly.com. “We know — this is no secret — quarterback is the [ultimate] position and the most important difference-maker.”
“We want to have very healthy, high ability at that position, with excellent leadership and a lot of smarts and a lot of moxie. Someone that really can take that position and run with it,” Lurie said. “And so Nick is going to have a great opportunity to showcase what he’s done. He’s had some outstanding games and he’s had one poor game.
“Time will tell. I think it’s really wide open for those that are on the team and it’s wide open for what our strategy might be if we don’t have it. But it’s a No. 1 priority. We’ve got to solidify that position in a really good way.”
This is going to be Foles’ ultimate test.
He’s playing with a healthy first-string OL and has his full compliment of skill players sans Maclin. The NFC East is still within reach and his owner is now on record saying the team needs to find their next franchise guy.
This is a pressure situation for Foles. His future as an NFL quarterback will be determined by how he plays over the next few weeks or possibly the rest of this season.
Can he shake off his bad game against Dallas and get back to looking more like the guy we saw against Tampa? Or will he buckle under the pressure and allow it to impact his play on the field?
Folding under pressure is one thing, but we also need to see if Foles is simply talented enough to become “the guy” for the Eagles or any NFL team for that matter. He has shown flashes in ability, but hasn’t been able to stand out from the muck that has surrounded this team the past 1.5 seasons.
Everything prior to this week can thrown out the window. Foles can look at this as a clean slate because he can take control of the Eagles’ QB situation for the remainder of this season solely depending on how he plays.
If he plays well enough, the Eagles won’t go looking for a first-round QB in the 2014 draft. If he’s just mediocre or worse then we can look forward to a “Matt Barkley vs. first-round draft pick” debate.
It’s sink or swim time for Foles.