Last week, during the Eagles’ bye week, I spent a majority of my Saturday scouting the college football landscape to see if there were any potential answers for the Birds’ at the quarterback position. I was planning to turn that work into a blog post. Now it just seems like I was wasting my time.
Nick Foles is the clear answer for Philadelphia moving forward. There’s no two ways about it. Even if a name like Mariota, Manziel, or Hundley fell to wherever the Eagles find themselves next May, I’m not so sure that they’d be worth the first round pick. There are other areas that are of more immediate concern (DB, OL, S) than quarterback at this point.
After the Eagles’ 24-21 victory on Sunday, Foles improved to 5-1 as the team’s starter this year, and his 3 passing scores raised his TD-to-INT ratio to 19-0—he’s one shy of tying the record set by Peyton Manning earlier this year for most TDs to start a season without an INT (20).
Foles went 21 of 34 for 237 yards with those three scores, securing a 112 passer rating, his fourth game in a row with a 100+ rating. According to the team, Foles joined old number 5 as the only QBs in team history to record a rating of 100+ in four straight games. Foles, in fact, has gone over 100 in all but one of his starts, and that’s not including the 114.9 he recorded in the two-quarters-plus-one-end-of-the-half-drive against the Giants and the 155.2 he recorded in garbage time against the Broncos. His season, with one glaring exception, has been nothing short of exceptional.
With those numbers, Foles is on pace to have one of the best seasons on record for a starting Eagles quarterback. The 128.0 passer rating would rank 1st among Eagles’ ball slingers; his 9.6 yards per attempt would rank 1st in team history among starters, and be the best since Sonny Jurgensen went for 8.9 y/a in 1961; his 9.9 percent TD percentage (the percent of attempted passes that go for TDs) would be 3rd best in team history; and his 63.6 completion percentage would be 2nd best among QBs to attempt at least 150 passes in a season, ever so slightly behind McNabb’s 64 percent in 2004.
Beyond the numbers, Foles is doing something that Eagles quarterbacks of recent memory (i.e. Mike Vick, Matt Barkley, Kevin Kolb, and the declining Donovan McNabb) really struggled with—he’s making incredibly smart decisions with the ball. He’s making the right reads and finding the open man, which, in turn, has made this offense one of the most efficient in the league over the last month and a half and earned Foles NFC offensive player of the month honors in November (when he set the mark for best passer rating in a single month in the history of the NFL with a 152.8).
The next month of games is going to be crucial for this team, but they’re in the position that they’re in right now, because of the off-the-charts production that this second-year QB has shown. Remember, this is a team that analysts predicted to finish dead last in the NFC East this year, and here they are in the final month of the season in a tie for first and with their destiny in their own hands. (It’d be nice if they could get the whole stalling-offense-late-in-the-game thing in order before the end of the year, but that’s a different issue for a different post.)
Drafting a quarterback might be on Chip Kelly’s to do list this offseason, but at best that person will be asked to serve as a viable backup to Foles.