There was once a time, not to long ago, when I felt like I was the leader of the Nick Foles bandwagon. I think it is safe to say over the last week, that I have hopped of the bandwagon, and allowed it to crash. Sure, Foles is still balling and I believe he still may be the Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback, but the lack of perspective on Foles season, as he begins to garner national attention, blows my mind. Wednesday’s NFL MVP frontrunners list written by NFL.com media senior analyst Gil Brandt, took not putting Foles season in perspective to a new level.
On the list, Foles was ranked second in the current MVP race, behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (where he should be), but ahead of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Luke Kuechly. I guess that is the world that we live in today. Whichever quarterbacks you can turn on Sportscenter or NFL AM and see in the first five minutes of the show are the ones who are the real MVP candidates. In all reality, Manning and Kuechly should top the list, and Tom Brady is the only one listed, that I wouldn’t place ahead of Nick Foles.
Don’t get me wrong, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions at this point in the season is incredible, regardless of the fact that Foles didn’t start a game until week six. Foles is currently on pace to break Aaron Rodgers record for the highest passer rating in one season as well. So I’m not trying to discredit what Foles has done, but it hasn’t been as simple as those numbers.
If you, like me, have watched every second of every Eagles game this season, I would have a tough time thinking that you believe Foles has been more valuable to the team than LeSean McCoy, who is in the running for the NFL rushing title. But LeSean McCoy has been one of the best running-backs in the NFL over the course of the last three seasons, and he isn’t the shiny new toy in front of us. Nick Foles is, which is part of the reason that he ranks so high on the list. We simply haven’t gotten bored of some of the greatness that Foles is displaying currently, like we apparently have with McCoy, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
I’d also like to give a tad bit of credit to Chip Kelly, who, with the exception of the Dallas game, has put Nick Foles in a great situation to succeed. And for that matter, let’s give credit to how he has helped LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Brent Celek, and Zach Ertz be in a position to make Foles successful.
Billy Davis leading the Eagles defensive turnaround, which Steven Lafreniere broke down Wednesday, has been pretty crucial to the Eagles TEAM success. Nick Foles isn’t the only one who has helped the Eagles turn into a playoff contender.
So why does Brandt not see things like I do? There is a good chance that he is just getting caught up in the moment, but let’s take a read at some of Brandt’s reasoning for having Foles so high on the list. Don’t take my critique as being an Eagles hater, but rather as me just playing devil’s advocate.
Few have been better lately than Foles, who is just the third player in NFL history to have started a season with at least 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, joining Manning (who also did it this year) and Milt Plum (who did it for the Browns in 1960). Passer rating is one of the most accurate indicators of an ability to win games, and Foles is No. 1 in the NFL (125.2); the third-round draft pick has topped 100 in five of six starts this season. Foles has a 5-1 record as a starter in 2013 despite having very little experience and playing for a coach who was largely an unknown quantity heading into the season. Not many expected Chip Kelly’s team to win more than six games, and here the Eagles are, tied with the Cowboys for the NFC East lead at 7-5 behind a quarterback who began the year as a backup.
Few have been better than Foles lately, but the award is for the entire season. No one in history was better than Peyton Manning for the first five weeks, so why aren’t we looking at him in the same respect as Foles? He had five or six weeks where he played lights out, which is what Foles is in the midst of. In addition, Manning has played the whole season, which has allowed him to build a better resume than Foles.
Foles doesn’t have a record of 5-1, his team does. Foles has been a huge part of that record, but it bothers me in sports, especially in the NFL, when we say one singular player has a record.
Not many might have expected Kelly to win more than six games, but why does that matter in an MVP race? First off, let’s give Kelly some credit for that, not just Foles. Secondly, the MVP award goes to the player who had the best season. It isn’t an award that is given for best feel-good story. That isn’t to say that you can’t make a case for Foles to be a candidate, Brandt just didn’t go about it in the right way.
Brandt went on…
Foles is tall and doesn’t appear especially athletic, but he does have some moves. Namely, he knows how to sidestep the first defender and throw an accurate long ball. In that way, he’s similar to Marino, who wasn’t fast but knew how to slide and create an opportunity to get the pass off.
Yeah when you talk about comparing a quarterback who hasn’t even played a full season in the NFL to Dan Marino, who may statistically be the greatest quarterback of all-time, that’s when you know that you don’t know how to quantify how someone has been playing.
Secondly, Nick Foles has thrown some very good deep balls in games against the Buccaneers and Raiders, but he has also shown to be very inconsistent in his ability to throw the accurate deep pass. Remember the Green Bay game? Are we really going to give Foles the credit for “throwing an accurate deep ball” because Tramon Williams tipped the ball right to DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper made a great adjustment to catch a pass that was thrown five feet to the left from him? I’m not. That isn’t to say Foles hasn’t thrown the deep ball much better than he showed an ability to in his college career and his rookie season, but to say that he “throws an accurate deep ball” makes me think that Brandt has gotten caught up in watching highlights and not actually watching Foles playing entire games.
Brandt even caught up with Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who Nick Foles tied the NFL record with seven touchdown passes against, to try to get a perspective on Foles, from someone who has played against Foles during his current hot-streak.
I recently talked to Raiders coach Dennis Allen about Foles, who memorably tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes at Oakland in Week 9. Allen said he couldn’t believe the way Foles threw the ball long, praising the quarterback for his amazing touch.
Allen has that perspective because he saw Foles on what will likely go on to be the greatest game of his NFL career. Ask Jason Garret how he feels about Foles deep balls. That’s an extreme example I suppose, considering Foles is 0-3 in his career against the Cowboys. But, I bet if you go to Mike McCarthy and ask him that same question,he would tell you that he likes Foles vision down-field, but if it wasn’t for his secondary getting beat, and in the Williams case just simply being unlucky, Foles wouldn’t have throw two of his touchdowns against the Packers, and might have thrown his first interception.
Here is the Brandt’s final case for Foles as MVP.
We could have something like a Tom Brady story on our hands here, if on a lesser scale. Although Foles broke many of Drew Brees’ records at Westlake High School (Austin, Texas), he didn’t win many games at Arizona, and thus didn’t generate much buzz. Still, he was working in an offense that lacked structure. And yet, he managed to become the Wildcats’ all-time leading passer (topping 10,000 yards in three seasons).
First, I am tired of hearing the Tom Brady comparisons. Tom Brady is one of the top five quarterbacks that has ever played in the NFL, so just because Foles is hot and was drafted after the first-round, doesn’t mean he is the “next Tom Brady”.
Secondly, Nick Foles is being embraced nationally because he seems to be a fearless underdog, and we love those in America. He wasn’t drafted high, he wasn’t the starter at the beginning of the year, and yet, Nick Foles is on one of the best streaks that we have ever seen out of an NFL quarterback. To me, and apparently all of America, that has made Nick Foles so fun to root for. But the difference between me and the rest of America, including members of the media, is that I know how to separate the fan side of me from the analyst side. The fan side of me will fight for every Philly team and player, but the analyst side puts that aside, and focuses on the job at hand. I CAN’T get caught up in the moment. And since I can’t get caught up in the moment, I’m not just taking a glance at the last five weeks, I’m taking the whole season into account.
If I gave my ballot now, Foles might crack the top five. Peyton Manning, Luke Kuechly, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, would be my first four without question. Then, either Cam Newton, LeSean McCoy, or Nick Foles would round out my top five. I don’t consider a player competing to be in the top five of my ballot a true MVP candidate.
Can Foles still make his case to me? Sure, he can. He needs to out-throw Matt Stafford this week, and Tony Romo is a week 17 showdown against the Cowboys that could decide the NFC East. Even then, it would take Peyton Manning being rested down the stretch or finishing slowly, mixed with Kuechly, Wilson and Brees falling off in the last few weeks, for Foles to jump over any of them.
Nick Foles has shown me that he can possibly be the Eagles franchise quarterback. The last five weeks I will be focused on evaluating whether Foles can turn the possibility of his long-term starting quarterback candidacy into a certainty, and whether he can help lead the Eagles to the playoffs–not whether he is going to win the MVP.