Last night, the Philadelphia Eagles marched into Cleveland with hopes of securing their first preseason win of 2018 and getting an extended look at Nick Foles. What followed was a game of offensive inefficiencies and the flourishing of questions that fans had been wishing they would never have to address again.
Nick Foles laid an Egg, in every sense of the term. On the surface, completing 13/17 passes for 127 yards doesn’t seem that bad, but his 2 poor interceptions and the giving up of a safety break down those walls and leave a wreckage to sift through. What happened to the MVP of Super Bowl 52?
The answer is something that not even Doug Pederson can put his finger on.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one,” The Eagles Head Coach said when asked what the reasons behind this performance were. “I think sometimes you just put a little bit too much pressure on yourself, or you press to make a play, whatever it might be. I don’t know. It’s tough. Having been in those situations before, sometimes you feel like you need to make a play yourself when you’re struggling offensively, and then it doesn’t come. We can’t do that. We have to stick within our plan and stick within our means, and continue to execute.”
Pederson was evidently frustrated and he had every right to be. Nick Foles is likely going to be the Eagles starter when week one rolls around and this performance hardly inspired confidence. Perhaps it was just shaking off rust or maybe he’s just not a strong preseason competitor. It’s not like we got to see Foles in preseason action last year due to injury, so without going back to his early NFL experience, it’s hard to put a marker on how he plays in August.
Either way, it’s safe to say that Foles did not show any signs of rekindling that incredible form shown in the playoff run. Foles, instead, looked a little lost, a little nervous and a little uncomfortable as Myles Garrett and the Browns pass-rush came steaming down time and time again. The excuses naturally began to surface at an alarming rate. How could we forget, there was no Alshon Jeffery, no Nelson Agholor, no Jason Peters, no starting running backs?! Well, we couldn’t, because that fact was flooding social media timelines for hours on end as fans desperately tried to defend the iconic quarterback. But this is preseason and it’s very rare for any quarterback, starting or otherwise, to have a complete first-team unit around him.
Without being ‘that guy’, let’s not forget that Sam Bradford was able to make a receiving corps of Jordan Matthews, Jeff Maehl, Raheem Mostert, Rasheed Bailey and one Nelson Agholor look elite in the preseason of 2015, obliterating the Packers in the process. The offensive line was also nowhere near as talented or complete as it is now and the backfield was relying on Kenjon Barner to carry the weight. I’m not using Bradford’s name just to light a fire, but more to make a relatable case. He did a lot more with a lot less in a game that didn’t matter.
Stop making excuses.
Doug Pederson wasn’t doing it and neither should the fans. This wasn’t a playoff loss, this wasn’t a regular season loss. The argument for ‘lack of starters’ is not valid in the slightest when across the league this preseason, quarterbacks are producing less implosive performances with a less talented group around them.
The way Nick Foles played during that playoff run will never be forgotten, it was the stuff of dreams. A performance like this only further enshrines that run as one of the greatest ever. Nick Foles is not an elite quarterback and there is a reason why no team made an offer that Howie Roseman simply couldn’t refuse. Foles is good enough to be a backup, but the inconsistencies that saw him traded to the Rams and then eventually cast out will always be there. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that this was a bad night for Nick Foles. Stop sugar coating it, stop making excuses. It’s preseason.
An insurance policy, by definition, is the ‘guarantee of compensation for specified loss’. The Eagles lost Carson Wentz. Nick Foles compensates for that loss until his eventual return, but he is not some mythical being and he is not Carson Wentz. I know that Foles will always be the quarterback who ended the Championship Drought and did so in heroic fashion. That doesn’t mean he’s suddenly immune from the flaws that have plagued his game for years or the criticisms that come with that.
If Foles plays just as poorly against the Falcons, what will the excuse be? It’s time to stop painting the former Eagles draftee out to be something he isn’t and just accept that with great heights come greater falls.
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports