While I understand that Fox Sports One hasn’t exactly turned in astronomical ratings since its inception nearly a year ago, I’ve actually enjoyed some of their programming. I’ve reached the point where I’d much rather watch Fox Sports Live than the corny, agenda-filled, Sportscenter, largely because I enjoy the debate segments that they have.
Over the weekend, a round-table of future NFL Hall of Famers, Brian Urlacher and Randy Moss, paired with Donovan McNabb, Jay Glazer and Joel Klatt, discussed expectations for Eagles’ 2014 season. The panel largely focused on how the Eagles were going to replace DeSean Jackson and what expectation level we should have for Nick Foles in 2014.
For the most part, I enjoyed watching that video. I like Moss’ perspective on things, even though I think he is playing-up DeSean’s impact a bit too much, and I think McNabb salivates about the idea of playing in Chip Kelly’s offense, because he knows that in his prime, he could have easily won at least one Superbowl, in a system like Chip’s, with this arsenal of weapons around him. But hey, that’s another story for another time.
In any case, the money quote that came out of this video, which was dug up by Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7, was McNabb saying ‘just be ready for the boos.’ Whether the comment was backhanded or not, really isn’t the point. At least it shouldn’t be.
In some senses, I’m not sure McNabb can ever go a segment where he talks about the Eagles, or even the city of Philadelphia, without making some sort of backhanded comment. But in this case, he wasn’t exactly wrong.
In 2014, we like to conveniently read headlines, and assume that we just know the gist of the story, without actually reading the story. In reality, McNabb was pressed into making that sort of comment by Klatt, after saying this.
But for Nick Foles, he’s never truly been a guy where the focus is on him. In Philadelphia, the focus is on the quarterback. If he can’t do the same things he did in that first season, it’s gonna be tough.”
It is going to be difficult for Foles, but I certainly think that he is in a system where one season of success wasn’t a fluke. He isn’t going to throw 27 touchdowns and two picks again, but I think it is a faulty idea that Foles is just going to fall off the map this year.
All that said, McNabb is right in the sense that Philly isn’t an easy place to struggle. And over the course of a 16 game season, it’s very possible that Nick Foles goes through a two or three game rough stretch. Hopefully that’s it, but in this division, it’s certainly possible that Foles goes through a rough four game stretch, hears boos, but the Eagles are still in a position to compete for a playoff spot. Let the record show, I don’t think that is likely, but no team-unless it is the Eagles-is going to win more than 10 games in this division, so I won’t rule anything out.
So if the Eagles drop three of four, including one unconvincing win, it’s very possible that the offense will falter. And with that, whether it is deserved or not, Foles will take a good amount of the blame. There will be a lot of discussion of the Eagles moving on for another quarterback in the draft (Marcus Mariota?) and Foles will hear boos. At that point, he can crumble like Vince Young did in Tennessee, or he can take McNabb’s advice, and ‘get ready for the boos’, work through it, and turn them into points and cheers.
Foles, who spoke to WIP’s Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis recently, sounded like he had embraced playing in Philly.
“It’s fun man,” Foles told Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis on WIP Afternoons on Thursday. “I love playing here, I love living here. It really is a blessing. I look back at the last couple years, playing college and how everything worked out, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s an honor to put on this jersey, to be in this facility, to be with these people, to play for this city. It’s a blast.”
Foles is much more of an even keel, relaxed guy than McNabb ever was. He isn’t, and likely never will be, as talented as number five, but I do believe that he is more mentally prepared to handle a situation like Philly than McNabb was. That isn’t to say that McNabb didn’t do great things here-he’s the best quarterback in team history-but I think Foles has much more of the mental makeup to play here. I don’t get the sense that he grew into that, but that he isn’t someone like McNabb that feels he always has to prove himself. He’s more worried abut playing up to his own self-expectations, and has the rare gift to block all the other distractions out.
Then again, how much turmoil has Foles actually faced in Philly? The worst moment of his career was getting a concussion after an uninspiring performance against the Cowboys, in what turned into a week seven loss. But he still turned out to have a record-setting 2013, which leads him into a 2014 where he looks like someone with a chance to stamp himself as the team’s franchise quarterback, in a city starving for a Lombardi Trophy. So the expectations have never been higher for ‘Nicky Franchise’.
As Foles walked off the field with team doctor’s after sustaining a concussion late in that week seven loss, fans were booing the fact that they weren’t going to see their first home win in over a calendar year. If fans are booing Foles in 2014, it will likely be because he isn’t taking the necessary strides in his first full season of starting for the team for fans to believe he can help to deliver some sort of parade down South Broad. How he reacts to the boos this year, may ultimately determine whether Foles was a one-year flash in the pan, or the Eagles’ quarterback for the next decade.