Eagles Wake-Up Call: Offseason Shouldn’t Center Around Foles
In a couple of weeks, after the Eagles close their season out against the Giants, those are expected to be the two top priorities for Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and the rest of the team’s brain trust.
But how closely will the two decisions be linked?
We’ve seen Nick Foles start five games, surrounded by mostly backups. And by the end of the season, that number figures to be seven. There have been some positives – his ability to sense pressure and make throws downfield while on the move, his inclination to get rid of the ball quickly when he has to.
And some things that need work – his mechanics on several errant deep throws, along with some questionable decisions that have (or could have) resulted in turnovers.
The Eagles should plan on continuing to develop Foles in the offseason. But they shouldn’t anoint him the quarterback of the future and shut the door on the position when shaping their roster in the coming months. That means paying close attention to quarterbacks in the draft, in free agency, on the trade block, etc.
I know there’s not a projected Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in this class. But the Eagles will do their own evaluations and form their own conclusions. If they’re in a position to take a quarterback they perceive to have a higher ceiling or a greater chance of success than Foles, they have to strongly consider taking him. It’s perfectly reasonable to create some competition. As we’ve seen throughout the years, good quarterbacks are assets that can be flipped for valuable compensation.
It’s important to acknowledge that quarterbacks taken in the third round or later generally don’t have a lot of success. Does that mean Foles is destined for failure? Of course not. His career is just beginning, and it will be shaped by coaching, opportunity and the talent around him.
But take a look at the list of some of the names we’re talking about here. Since 2008, 38 quarterbacks have been taken in the third round or later; 24 of them have never started an NFL game. Foles is already in select company. Only seven of the 38 have started five games or more: Colt McCoy, John Skelton, Russell Wilson, Curtis Painter, T.J. Yates, Josh Johnson and Foles.
By my count, 25 of the 32 current starters (discounting injuries) in the league were taken in the first or second rounds. The exceptions are Tom Brady (sixth round), Tony Romo (undrafted), Foles (third round), Wilson (third round), Ryan Fitzpatrick (seventh round), Matt Schaub (third round) and Matt Cassel (seventh round).
Again, the point is not that Foles can’t succeed. The point is that the Eagles need to pay attention to recent history and make sure they’re giving themselves the best chance to find a quarterback they can win with. That might be Foles, but it might not be. They need to prepare themselves for both scenarios.
There’s also the question of how the quarterback situation affects the coaching search. Andy Reid’s potential replacement will almost certainly be the one who decides on the QB. But if I’m Lurie, what the candidates think of Foles would be just part of the equation. I’d obviously get their opinion of him. But even if I had no intentions of bringing Michael Vick back, I’d also ask what kind of offense they’d run with him. I’d want to know their strategy for potentially developing a rookie too.
Finding a coach who can adapt to personnel is of the utmost importance. Scheme matters too. But we know there will be injuries, free agency, changes to the coaching staff and opponents making adjustments. Talent is always key. But finding a way to maximize talent when things don’t go according to plan is crucial.
Developing Foles in 2013 may end up making the most sense for the Eagles. But they shouldn’t arrive at that conclusion based on the seven-game tryout. They should arrive at it only after having explored all their options.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Speaking of Foles, here’s the All-22 breakdown of his performance from last week. The rookie didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates.
From Reid to Foles to mock drafts, here’s a roundup of what they’re saying about the Eagles this week.
Tight end Clay Harbor has been placed on injured reserve.
From DeMeco Ryans to Fletcher Cox to the national perception of Reid, here are five Eagles numbers that matter.
If you missed this week’s episode of Birds 24/7 Radio, here are the podcast links.
What will the scene be like at what will almost certainly be Reid’s final home game at the Linc? T-Mac offers his take.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Some have asked about Joe Flacco potentially hitting the open market. That’s not going to happen, writes Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com:
Flacco’s erratic play has undoubtedly lowered the Ravens’ confidence in him. But it hasn’t lessened his chances of returning. The Ravens won’t — and honestly can’t — let him walk. This isn’t necessarily an endorsement of Flacco. It’s just the reality of the situation. Although Flacco’s play has been frustrating, a look at the quarterbacks who will be available this offseason makes Flacco seem like Tom Brady. Would the Ravens do any better with Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb or Ryan Fitzpatrick? The same goes for the draft, where there’s no prospect a team would take over Flacco. Plus, the Ravens know how long it took to find a quarterback with the talent of Flacco (think back to the days of Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright and Jeff Blake and Chris Redman).
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the Eagles 28th in his power rankings:
Best evidence that Garrett Reid wasn’t distributing steroids? The team’s won-loss record.
The Eagles return to practice, and Reid speaks. We’ll have it all covered.