Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Durability Question

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj - USA Today

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today

One of the Eagles’ priorities this past offseason was to find a way to reduce the number of hits on Nick Foles. Feeling that he held onto the ball too long at times, they wanted him to “ditch the ball earlier in the down” and reduce the number of shots he was taking in the name of staying healthy.

“We want him to be smart late in the down both with the football and also with his body,” said quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.

Understandably, they were worried about their signal-caller staying upright. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, Foles was banged around quite a bit over the first eight games before Whitney Mercilus delivered the knockout blow in Houston. The fractured collarbone kept Foles out of action for the final eight games.

Foles has missed time in each of his three seasons at the NFL level because of injury. He broke his throwing hand late in his rookie season, and suffered a concussion against Dallas last year. Is there a concern that he is injury-prone?

“He broke a collarbone, so I don’t think that’s a guy that shows me he has a chronic injury, in terms of that aspect,” said Chip Kelly. “I think that’s part of the game. I don’t know any quarterback, no matter who you are, that if you take the hit that he took in the Houston game, that’s not going to be injured in that situation. I don’t fault Nick for that.

Peyton Manning missed a year. Tom Brady missed a year.  Drew Brees missed a year. Aaron Rodgers missed almost all of last season. Tony Romo‘s been hurt. You can count on one hand the guys that don’t get hurt at the quarterback position. That is just the nature of that position. Those guys are going to get hit and that’s why I’ve always said you better have two because of the nature of that position. But very rarely do guys make it through unscathed at that position. It just doesn’t happen.”

As Kelly mentioned, many of the hits (and subsequent injuries) simply come with the territory, though some responsibility falls on the QB to limit the punishment. Pro Football Focus tracks the time it takes a quarterback to get rid of the ball, from snap to pass attempt, while operating in the pocket. Foles had the highest average (2.88 seconds) in 2013  by their calculations. That number dropped moderately to 2.73 this year, which was the sixth highest time in the league (minimum of 25 percent of the snaps). There is still room for improvement in that department.

Kelly has seen four different quarterbacks take meaningful snaps in his two seasons in Philadelphia, largely because of injuries. One way or another, that position needs to stabilize.


Zach Ertz believes Nick Foles can reach Andrew Luck status.

Sheil offers a fair and balanced evaluation of Kelly.

Pat Shurmur will interview for the Raiders head coaching job.

Kapadia gets us set for the offseason.


Reuben Frank on the future of DeMeco Ryans. 

Ryans turns 30 this summer, has suffered two season-ending Achilles ruptures in the last five years and is due $6.8 million in base salary with a $6.9 cap figure.

That combination has raised speculation that the Eagles would move on from Ryans, but Kelly spoke very highly of Ryans on Monday, a day after the Eagles’ season ended with a win over the Giants.

“We need DeMeco, I’m a big DeMeco fan,” Kelly said. “As a group, he really sets the tone for everybody on the defense side of the ball.  So it’s just a matter of getting DeMeco healthy again.”

None of that means it’s a lock that Ryans will return. But it’s sure a strong sign.

“It’s good whenever the head coach says he wants you back,” Ryans said. “Of course I want to be here. I want to be back here.”

Marcus Hayes thinks the Eagles need to give Foles a contract extension.

It would be foolish to let Foles enter another season haunted by the specter of financial insecurity.

He will make nearly $3 million in his first four seasons, and that’s not a bad start in life.

It is not as good as, say, $10 million, guaranteed, over the next two seasons.


Happy New Year. Thank you to all who supported Birds 24/7 in 2014. Bigger things ahead.