The Biggest Nick In The Room: One last goodbye to an Eagles legend

It is 2012 and the Philadelphia Eagles are struggling against the Dallas Cowboys. That alone is a sentence that would make the blood of any Eagle’s fan boil. Michael Vick started that game and left with concussion like symptoms. Enter the first taste of regular season National Football League action for Nick Foles. The third round pick from the University of Arizona stepped in and looked exactly like how you would expect a rookie to look in his first taste of action. He threw his first touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin, but the Cowboys would win the game. In fact, for the rest of the 2012 Eagles season, there would only be one more win to celebrate. Foles would start the rest of Andy Reid’s final season as the Eagles head coach and win his only game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a last second throw to Maclin as time expired. In 2012, the Eagles finished 4-12 and dead last in the NFC East. As bleak as that season looked, the Eagles and Foles seemed renewed the following season.

In the 2013 season, Chip Kelly is hired as the new Philadelphia Eagles head coach, replacing the fired Andy Reid. Kelly, in training camp, presented a quarterback position battle between Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and rookie fourth round pick from the University of Southern California, Matt Barkley. Vick would get injured against the New York Giants and Foles stepped in to keep the Eagles head above water and escape with the win. Fast forward to the second match up with the Giants and Foles is injured. Barkley steps in, doesn’t impress, so we are right back to Foles once he is healthy. A week after being injured against the Giants, Foles has arguably the game of his career in an Eagles uniform. In a literal career day behind center, Foles throws for seven touchdown passes. The fans of Philadelphia officially had their eyes opened. The Nick Foles era began! Everyone bleeding green is saying “this is our guy!” There is no more quarterback controversy and the Eagles gain a playoff berth. In his first regular season under Kelly as head coach, Foles threw for twenty seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Unfortunately, the magic would be killed by the New Orleans Saints. Foles left that field in that wildcard playoff game with a lead. It was undeniable that the Eagles finally had a reliable quarterback as Foles would be selected to the Pro Bowl that year and would be the Pro Bowl’s most valuable player. That was the feeling among every single one of the Eagles fans. The only person that felt otherwise was the head coach.

A part of the wild ride full of twists and turns that is Nick Foles’ career is his original departure from the Philadelphia Eagles under the reign of Chip Kelly. To understand just how premature Kelly was moving on from Foles, let this stat sink in. As a starting quarterback from 2012-2014, Foles had only lost nine games in an Eagles uniform. Looking at the full time that Foles had been a regular season starter in Philadelphia, up through the 2018 season, Foles has only lost eleven games. Regardless of how ugly some games may have looked, because not all of them were exactly pretty, Foles was a winner. The destruction of the Eagles started before the 2014 season with Kelly releasing DeSean Jackson and only continued with Kelly trading Foles to the St. Louis Rams for a 2015 fourth round pick, 2016 second round pick, and Sam Bradford. Ultimately, Foles would play eleven games, going 4-7, before being benched in place of Case Keenum. Both Keenum and Foles would prove to be better than their time spent on the Rams that season under Jeff Fisher’s coaching once time advanced to the 2017 playoffs.

After his run in 2015 with St. Louis, Nick Foles was just about ready to call it a career in the NFL. His stock dropped after crashing and burning under Jeff Fisher. The Rams were no longer a home for Foles and the Eagles were drafting a new quarterback to hastily move on from Sam Bradford. The Eagles put their future in the hands of first round pick from North Dakota State University, Carson Wentz. There were two people left in the NFL who knew what Foles had left to give to the game of football. Those two men were Andy Reid and Doug Pederson, who happened to be both on the coaching staff out in Kansas City with the Chiefs organization in 2016. When Foles was originally a Philadelphia Eagle, he was drafted by Reid and the quarterback’s coach was Pederson. This was the perfect fit for Foles to resurrect his career with the Chiefs. He only started one game and remained undefeated in Kansas City. Was this a sign that Foles was back? Not initially for the rest of the NFL. It was enough for one man who would be the most important piece in Philadelphia to this current day. When the Eagles were looking for a new head coach and Pederson was their man, he knew he had a good quarterback in his back pocket as an insurance policy.

The year the magic happened has come in 2017. Carson Wentz had played a full season as a Philadelphia Eagle in 2016 with Chase Daniel as his back up quarterback. That position was due for an upgrade and Doug Pederson brought in his guy from Kansas City. Nick Foles was officially back in Eagles midnight green. Wentz had played a lights out year up through the game versus the now Los Angeles Rams, which he became injured with a torn ACL. The MVP caliber season that the second year quarterback was up in smoke and tension was at an all time high for the Eagles fans. It was time for Foles to pick right up where the Eagles left off. No time for excuses, only execution. Foles would help the Eagles defeat the lowly Giants and then would only play the first half of a meaningless game against the Cowboys. Only Hollywood could script what happened next for the city of Philadelphia. What is better than a good script is when it becomes real. The Eagles would play the Atlanta Falcons at home and win a hard fought game with Foles as the starting quarterback. This would be his first playoff win in the NFL. The NFC championship game featured the visiting Minnesota Vikings and Case Keenum versus the Eagles and Foles. Remember when both of these quarterbacks were on the same depth chart in St. Louis? Times changed quickly! The Vikings took a quick, early lead. Just as quickly, their lead disappeared and the Eagles steamrolled the Vikings en route to Superbowl 52 in Minnesota. No apologizes to spoil the hometown championship game from the Eagles. The real like Rocky Balboa story came to life. Foles, a quarterback who had almost retired from football, led the underdog Eagles into Minnesota against the juggernaut New England Patriots and the declared “greatest of all time” Tom Brady. When the smoke cleared, the clock read zeroes, and a winner was crowned, Foles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with his Philadelphia teammates! Foles went from parts unknown to streets paved in gold.

This past year, Philadelphia Eagles fans saw the same sort of path playing out in front of them again. Carson Wentz gets the injury bug and Nick Foles has to step up. In a year where the Eagles lost just about every defensive back imaginable coupled with little to no running attack, Foles found a way to turn the Eagles into a playoff team. Mirroring the game winning touchdown pass that Foles through to Maclin in 2012 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Foles ran the same exact play and threw the same exact touchdown to Golden Tate against the Chicago Bears to advance in the playoffs. Like 2013 however, Foles met his match in the New Orleans Saints. Foles was the best insurance policy in professional football for the Eagles in 2017 and 2018. Now, he is going to be a Jacksonville Jaguar. Eagles fans shouldn’t fret. They should just be happy for what Foles gave our city. The Eagles fans should show the same faith in a quarterback like Nate Sudfeld, who isn’t a bad back up to Wentz either. Above all, the Eagles fans need to get back on the “Wentz Wagon,” because Wentz is a quarterback worth believing in. All Foles asked of the Eagles fans was to believe and we were rewarded with a Superbowl championship. Keep the faith, Philadelphia!

In the career retrospective so far of Nick Foles, the lesson here is to never give up. In 2013, Foles had a twenty seven touchdown and two interception ratio. He was riding the highest of highs before Chip Kelly ran amok in Philadelphia. Things got tough for Foles in St. Louis, but when he didn’t think he had anything left, he proved himself wrong with Andy Reid and Doug Pederson in Kansas City. Not many people thought Foles would be able to exceed the high of his peak performance in 2013, but in 2017, he did that exactly. Foles is undefeated against Tom Brady. How many other quarterbacks can say that when the championship is on the line? Foles is a hero to the city of Philadelphia. Thank you, Nick Foles. I wish you the best in Jacksonville.

 Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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