Wake-Up Call: Too Soon To Elevate Foles
How many times have you gone into a Sunday feeling one way about a team or player, only to walk away with a fresh perspective? Sometimes, that happens even if the team or player in question isn’t part of the proceedings. Take Nick Foles, for instance.
Even though he hasn’t played since January 4th, the conversation around Foles continues to evolve as the playoffs unfold. He is being compared to Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson — in many circles, favorably. An argument I have heard several times since the NFC Championship Game is that Kaepernick and Wilson are beneficiaries of a strong supporting cast, and that Foles would be as successful (maybe more successful) if he was backed by the type of nasty defense that the Niners and Seahawks enjoy. Kaepernick’s three turnovers on San Francisco’s final three drives in the NFC Championship game are helping to fuel this conversation.
It’s a dangerous leap to make.
It’s true that defense played a major role in San Francisco and Seattle’s success this season, but it’s also true that Kaepernick and Wilson each had to face one of those powerhouse defenses Sunday night. It is pure speculation to suggest Foles would have done as well or better if he was the one under center.
In terms of points per game, Seattle’s defense finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the NFL and the Niners were third. Compare that to the teams Foles started against during the 2013 regular season.
Foles faced each of the four worst defenses in the league. Seven of his nine starts came against units that ranked in the bottom 12. Meanwhile, Kaepernick was up against the best defense in the NFL on the road with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
There is a certain level of amnesia that comes with this sport. We tend to forget the big plays Kaepernick made against Green Bay and Carolina to help put his team back in the NFC Championship game. The last image is of Richard Sherman batting a Kaepernick pass into the hands of a Seattle teammate to punch the Seahawks’ ticket to the Super Bowl. If that pass makes it over the outstretched hand of arguably the best corner in the league, the conversation would be much different and any Foles-Kaepernick debate would seem very much out of place.
But this is a league of inches, Kaepernick didn’t get the job done and the topics shift accordingly.
It’s tempting to look at the 27 touchdowns and two interceptions and play the, Could you imagine if he had one of these defenses backing him? card. But that’s looking at things a little too simplistically. It does not account for what Wilson and Kaepernick mean to their teams as playmakers or leaders. It doesn’t speak to the way a defense is forced to respond to their specific skill sets, and how that opens things up for the rest of the offense. It assumes that Foles would thrive deep into the postseason.
Kaepernick (26) and Wilson (25) have both been starters in this league for two seasons, and have 10 playoff games and a pair of Super Bowl berths between them. Foles (25) had an extraordinary 11-game run this season and got his first taste of playoff ball. He may prove to be every bit as valuable as the QBs who battled it out in Seattle Sunday evening, but to elevate him to their status now — particularly as a reaction to what went down on CenturyLink Field this weekend — is a bit premature.
WHAT YOU MISSED
How are the Eagles using sports science to their benefit at the Senior Bowl? Sheil explains.
Kapadia catches up with Oregon receiver Josh Huff, who recounted Chip Kelly‘s emotional farewell address last season.
The Eagles have reportedly tabbed Bill Musgrave to be their new quarterbacks coach.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Geoff Mosher looks at the money tied to the tight end position and how it could affect how the roster is shaped.
With Celek slated to make $4 million in 2014, Casey on the books for just under $4 million and Ertz on the books for about $1.2 million, it’s not feasible for the Eagles to have more than $9 million tied up in that position — unless, of course, tight end is the focal point of Kelly’s offense in 2014 and the Eagles don’t intend on doling out big bucks to keep Cooper and Maclin.
On the surface, Casey would appear to be the odd man out if the Eagles were looking to reduce salaries, except that $2 million of his $3.95 million is guaranteed. The Eagles aren’t likely to pay Casey $2 million to catch passes somewhere else.
None of Celek’s $4 million is guaranteed, so the Eagles could ask him to restructure his contract or take a pay cut. They could also cut him at no cost, but that seems unlikely given that Kelly bends over backwards to heap praise on Celek at every opportunity.
Tommy Lawlor offers his thoughts on the Musgrave hiring.
The Eagles needed to hire a QB coach who had experience. They couldn’t afford to go with a young player since Nick Foles is in such a critical stage in his career. He’s an ascending player, but still needs work. He needs a coach who has successfully developed QBs already. Musgrave fits this description. He’s also worked well with bigger QBs that are mostly pocket passers. Kinda sounds like Nick Foles.
The Eagles passing game is a mixture of the spread and the WCO. Musgrave knows how to teach QBs the footwork needed to run the WCO. That is a timing based offense and it is critical for the QB to be precise with his steps so that he can get the ball out on time. Receivers will be at specific landmarks and need the ball at the right time.
Sheil continues his coverage from sunny Mobile. Damn you, Sheil.