Tag Archives: Marcus Mariota

Countdown to Eagles Football — 42 Days: How Long Will Chip Kelly Be the Eagles Coach?

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first and second part can be found here and here. 

This makes me a bit uncomfortable, actually more than a bit uncomfortable, to the point where I almost considered not publishing it and going in a different direction, but at the same time, I felt it was important enough to discuss.

An attempt to answer this question is ultimately grounded in intuition and speculation. People have wildly floated their thoughts on this topic since 1 p.m. on January 16, 2013,  the day Kelly was hired to be the Eagles head coach. It has only become a hotter discussion point since January 2015, when Kelly gained full control of player personnel decisions in addition to his coaching duties.

Whatever number or year someone throws out is ultimately a personal notion, but there are some facts that we can use to evaluate the question holistically and venture an educated guess.

Previous Coaching Stops 

Kelly spent 13 years coaching at his alma mater, the university of New Hampshire, including the final eight as the program’s offensive coordinator. He then stayed at Oregon for six seasons, spending the final four as the Ducks head coach before taking his talents to the NFL.

Contract Length

Kelly’s contract currently runs for three more years through the 2017 season. Two scenarios could obviously change things here. A successful season could potentially net Kelly an early extension, even with a couple years remaining on his original deal. On the opposite spectrum, owner Jeffrey Lurie could fire Kelly at any point in time before the end of the 2017 season, ending the contract early, which leads to the next point.

Lurie’s Track Record with Coaches 

In his two decades as Eagles owner, Lurie has been known to exhibit patience with head coaches. Ray Rhodes held the position for four seasons, and Andy Reid, obviously the stronger example, spent 14 years running the show. Other owners may have pulled the plug on Reid earlier, who did not win a playoff game in his final four seasons between 2009-2012. Many thought Reid should have been fired after the Eagles 2008 Super Bowl dreams came crashing down in the Arizona desert, but Lurie remained loyal to Reid until it became abundantly clear that a change was needed.

Lurie showed the utmost confidence in Kelly last January when he stripped Howie Roseman, who the owner had grown incredibly close with over the years, of personnel duties, handing the head coach more power. While Kelly has theoretically turned up the heat on himself with some controversial roster decisions, it is clear his owner believes in him after back-to-back 10 win seasons.

Most Coaches Who Come from College and Succeed in the NFL Don’t Go Back

Jim Harbaugh is the exception to this headline, heading home to bring his alma mater back to prominence. Other coaches who come from the college game and prove they can cut it in the NFL do not go back. The allure of winning a Super Bowl and proving that one’s system works at the game’s highest level is too attractive to even entertain college offers. Those who crash and burn like Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino return. The good ones do not.

The popular notion is that Kelly’s next coaching job will be at a big-time college football program, and that belief seems absolutely ridiculous to me. The much more likely scenario is Kelly coaching another NFL team (with less power than he currently has in Philadelphia should that experiment prove unsuccessful), which brings us to the final two considerations.

The Marcus Mariota Factor 

After a successful start to his head-coaching career in Arizona, Ken Wisenhunt is 20-44 in his last four seasons, including a rough 2-14 season with the Titans in 2014.

Picture the scenario right now. Sam Bradford doesn’t pan out as the franchise quarterback that Kelly believes he can be, and the Eagles end up just on the outside of the NFC playoff picture again. The Titans go 5-11 with Mariota having an inconsistent rookie season, and Tennessee’s brass reaches the conclusion that the right coach, his old coach, is the man to get them on track.

This is not so simple as Kelly would still be under contract with the Eagles. Furthermore, the entire scenario sounds absurd, but the Mariota connection will never fully go away so long as both are in the NFL.

New Hampshire Roots 

Kelly was born and spent much of his life pre-Oregon and Philadelphia days in New Hampshire. What NFL team is closest to New Hampshire?

While this may be the biggest stretch of them all, Kelly is close with and not so secretly admires Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is 63 years old. While the four-time champion has shown no signs of slowing down, it is reasonable to assume that he won’t coach forever.

If Belichick were to remain with the organization in some sort of consulting role and have influence in naming his replacement, it would not be surprising to see him recommend Kelly to Robert Kraft, and it is certainly fathomable that Kelly would embrace the opportunity to follow the legend.

So What’s the Verdict?

Having evaluated all of these factors, let’s make a prediction.

I might regret this, and it’s dangerous to say when someone is entering Year 3 without a solidified franchise quarterback, but I foresee Kelly with the Eagles for a long time.

Lurie trusts him, and Kelly is as driven as they come, hungry to prove that his innovative system works on the biggest football stage, ruling out the idea that he would voluntarily return to the college game. The only way he ends up back there is if 32 NFL franchises deem him unworthy of a job, and someone who wins 20 games over two seasons with a flawed roster that only had 12 victories over the previous two doesn’t forget how to coach overnight.

Marvin Lewis has lasted 12 seasons in Cincinnati despite never winning a playoff game. Kelly must aim higher than that, but all things considered, I think it’s likely that he is still wearing midnight green come the beginning of a new decade in 2020.

As for 2021? Well, that depends on if Mariota is in a Patriots jersey.

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Halley’s Comet, The Moon, and What’s to Come On This Blog

Anyone who is somewhat intrigued enough to click on this post will likely realize right away that it lacks a picture.

That is the case because this is meant to tease an announcement of a series that is forthcoming, and any fitting image would tip my hand more than I initially care to. If you know what I normally write about on this blog combined with what time of year it is, you could likely wager a successful guess at what is on the way, but the specific details — the lifeblood of this project that I hope will make it go — will not be made public for a few more days.

If you’re still following along, let me try to explain the title of this post and the reason(s) for doing this.

Back in mid-April, I was visiting my alma mater for Penn State’s spring football game. The weather was beautiful (which is rarely the case for one of these), and I was pumped to spend the day tailgating with a group of Twitter friends who I had turned into real friends and became close with over the past two and a half years.

After finding my group and shaking a few hands, I was greeted with a familiar voice of the gentleman who ran the always impressive tailgate.

“BALIS!!”

Somewhat startled, I quickly whipped my head around.

“What’s it gonna take for me to get some content to read on your blog? I pay good money to support that site, and I’m reading posts from two years ago about Andy Reid.”

For context, this blog didn’t exist two years ago, it receives no money from supporters, and aside from a tangential mention here and there, very few if any posts focus on the former Eagles head coach.

He had a point though, and he wasn’t done making it.

“Do you know how much money I pay to be on his site?” he asked his friend standing next to him.

“He doesn’t pay anything,” I said in return, now trying not to laugh while opening a beer. “It’s a free blog.”

“I pay good subscription money to read that website, and I cannot get any new content. What the hell man? Write something for me.”

He proceeded to jokingly refer to me as Halley’s Comet, a cool thing that shows up in the sky every now and then only to disappear again quickly and for an extended period of time.

That part he was correct about, and I in a way would go on to further his point. At that moment in time, it had been three and a half months since I last published a post. The following week, I took his feedback to heart, writing two think-pieces around the NFL Draft and Marcus Mariota.

Since then, I have been pretty quiet again aside from a Phillies related post on occasion. Part of this downtime is the result of one of the quietest times of the calendar year for football, just waiting for things to ramp up. Another component is the principle of burn out. It’s a perception that I have fought as a writer for a couple years.

I show up. I crash the party. I turn some heads and make a splash, getting linked on ESPN a few times, building a presence along the way and also a few haters. People begin to take notice, and then I get tired and go away for a bit.

I want to end that perception. See, while it was said in a semi-complimentary way, I don’t want to be known as Halley’s Comet, I want to be associated with more of a consistent astronomic presence, say like, the moon.

To accomplish this will require work, and it won’t be done overnight, not literally nor figuratively (I broke my habit of late night writing post-college and have no desire to go back). This blog has on-and-off existed for 15 months now. The most enjoyable months were last summer, when I was writing about the Eagles, specifically the month of August right before the season started.

You probably have a good idea of this pending announcement, but the finer details are what I hope will make it special for both me and you.

See you in a few days, and another few days after that. Halley’s Comet is no more.

We’re not going to disappear this time.

Chip Kelly, Marcus Mariota, and How the Power of the ‘What If’ Question Could Turn NFL Economics Upside Down

“Let’s dispel that right now. I think that stuff’s crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that, because we have too many other holes we have to take care of.”

It has been 50 days since Chip Kelly stood behind a podium and delivered the aforementioned quote. On the surface at the time, it was viewed as Kelly bowing out of Marcus Mariota sweepstakes and attempting to pour water on what he viewed as a media-induced fire.

The biggest change between then and now — the morning of the NFL Draft — is also the most obvious change — time.

On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Kelly wasn’t faced with a now-or-never franchise altering decision with the quarterback of his dreams dangling right before his eyes behind a forbidden fence. It’s easy to say something seven weeks before one actually has to decide on something.

None of this is to say Kelly is a liar. Rather, it’s to float the question ‘What’s his definition of mortgaging ‘the future’? And how might his definition deviate from the norm given the anything but normal circumstances?

NFL economics are fascinating in that they are often bound by certain unwritten but understood parameters. If a team hypothetically called the Indianapolis Colts right now and offered their next 25 first round picks for Andrew Luck, the Colts would do it in a heartbeat, but the Colts would never be presented with that scenario because no team would call with that type of proposal.

Head hurt? Yeah, mine too.

Kelly will not call the Tennessee Titans and offer 25 future first round picks for Mariota tomorrow night. I can guarantee that, but to guarantee anything else would be naive and ignorant to the way the Eagles czar operates and the power of human psychology that could be at work before him.

Mariota is Kelly’s Andrew Luck, his can’t-miss prospect. While he has never seriously compared the two young quarterbacks he has mentioned Mariota in the same breath as Peyton Manning, an even higher compliment.

For the past few weeks, I have looked for reasons to rule such an unrealistic reunion out. I got nowhere and instead ending up writing this, unable to dismiss the possibility. Folks who know much more about the inner-workings of the team have sought for the same roadblocks and kept on traveling.

Bargaining power is a valuable and envious asset, and in this particular situation, the Tennessee Titans have all of it right now. Or do they?

Based on Ken Wisenhunt’s coaching career, there is deductive reasoning to believe that the Titans have little interest in the Oregon quarterback. One of the most intense dynamics would be if the Titans in a game of chicken with the Eagles drive up the price so high that Kelly calls their bluff and folds. Would Tennessee actually invest a second overall pick in a quarterback it may not be fully sold on or would they select someone else and leave Mariota on the board where Kelly could jump back in and give up less?

More accurate of a bargaining power statement is to say that the Titans if they play it right have much of it, and Kelly has none.

Decision power, while much riskier of a principle, is even more powerful than bargaining power though. And decision power in this instance could theoretically belong to Kelly. And if decision power in this instance does theoretically belong to Kelly, it may not be a difficult decision at all.

Two words. One question: ‘What if’

It’s a phrase that can dominate our lives. We can ask it optimistically, pensively, and sometimes even regrettably, with the goal of avoiding the third scenario. Oftentimes it’s posed because the goal that follows the ‘what if’ is not attainable. That’s painful. Other times, it’s asked because the ‘what if’ was there for the taking, and one didn’t seize the opportunity. That’s much more painful.

What if Mariota is there to be had and all it takes is one more young player, perhaps one as talented as Fletcher Cox, one more future pick? Would Kelly be able to sleep at night knowing his star pupil, the player he molded into one of the top quarterbacks in college football was available and he didn’t go the distance to get him?

The ‘what if’ question can be all-encompassing. One is resigned to the notion that it will make future tasks more difficult. Avoiding major injuries, identifying underrated talent, and player development skyrocket from highly important to super essential with hardly any margin for error.

With the extra pressure though comes an unconventional way to land a franchise quarterback and turn league norms upside-down while progressing from good to great and legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

But what if it’s not worth it?

What if it is and Kelly never dares to find out?

Chip Kelly, Ed Marynowitz, Howie Roseman, and the Symbolism of the Name Marcus in a Quest to Make the Draft Fun Again

I still vividly remember when it happened — when following 16 months of progress, the Eagles made a grave mistake with their greatest opportunity to inject talent onto a roster that had improved significantly over the aforementioned timeframe but still needed much work.

The 2014 NFL Draft was loaded with studs, and even after being slotted with the 22nd pick following an NFC East division title in 2013, the Eagles theoretically sat in a prime position.

One of the most fun things about watching a draft for fans is having that crush on one particular prospect and hoping he’s on the board when your team is on the clock — creating that hope that you somehow get your guy.

The guy who I decided I wanted the Eagles to take in the first round was Marqise Lee. A receiver who had put up monster numbers at USC. He had a few big games against Chip Kelly’s Oregon teams, and it seemed like a perfect match for a team that had a need at the position. As it turns out, the Eagles had other plans at the position, waiting until the second round and selecting Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews. That worked out perfectly fine. What happened a round earlier didn’t.

For a few brief moments though, I thought I was going to get my wish as Roger Goodell made his way to the podium to announce the 26th pick of the draft. With many of their original targets gone, the Eagles had traded back from their original 22nd slot to the 26th pick, allowing the Cleveland Browns to select Johnny Manziel. Manziel likely was the worst pick of the entire first round, a move that will eventually get everyone in the Browns organization who played a part in it fired.

What the Eagles did was not far behind though. Lee was still on the board, and I was convinced he would be the pick. Goodell started reading: “With the 26th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select, Mar…”

YES! HOLY SHIT! HELL YEAH! ”

“…cus Smith. Linebacker, Louisville.”

What? No.

That was not supposed to happen. I knew a little bit about Marcus Smith. I knew he had a decent number of sacks at Louisville. I also was aware that most media outlets and teams had a second or third round grade on him. The Eagles, who for a few seasons, had preached a ‘best player available’ approach when it came to drafting, had panicked and reached on a player who had no business being a first round pick.

Smith never recorded a single defensive statistic during his rookie season with the team. He was inactive for several games, and the puzzling decision would ultimately set off a power struggle in the Eagles front office months later. It potentially got Tom Gamble fired from his player personnel role and cost Howie Roseman his general manager title.

How did a team that for the most part had made very solid personnel moves for a year and a half drop the ball so badly here? To our best knowledge, this is what happened.

The Eagles went into the draft with six players they were targeting in the first round:

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks

Linebacker C.J. Mosely

Linebacker Anthony Barr

Cornerback Kyle Fuller

Safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix

Unfortunately, they gauged the board incorrectly, and when the Saints traded up to take Cooks at 20, and the Packers nabbed Clinton-Dix at 21, none of their targets were left.

“What the hell?” “This is bad.” “Typical Eagles trying to outsmart everyone else. Reminds me of Andy years.”

These were a few texts I got immediately after Smith’s name was called.

“Need to do some more research,” I texted back, hoping that there was some way to explain this.

There wasn’t. This was really bad, especially considering how other NFC East teams improved. The Giants used their first round pick to select the aforementioned Beckham, arguably a once-in-a-generation receiver, who eclipsed 90 receptions, 1300 yards, and double digit touchdowns in his rookie year. The Cowboys, unfortunately, intelligently passed on Manziel, and used their selection on Zack Martin, who also made the Pro Bowl as a rookie while helping the Cowboys to solidify their offensive line as they took the division from the Eagles and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Redskins didn’t have a first round pick but used their mid-second round selection on linebacker Trent Murphy, who actually saw the field and contributed in 2014.

‘Who made the Marcus Smith pick?’

It was a question that Eagles fans would ask for the past year, reaching a fever pitch in early January as Kelly fought for full player personnel control. As I have hypothesized back then, I have a tough time believing that pick was Kelly’s. The coach did not speak highly of him during the season, and I find it unlikely he would have kept Smith inactive in a meaningless Week 17 game, if he knew that he would have to defend the pick to Jeffrey Lurie a week later during a power play. That just doesn’t add up.

Kelly, in March, seemed to confirm these thoughts, placing the blame on the now demoted Roseman for the Smith pick and failing to improve the team during the first round of last year’s draft.

Some Smith truthers in an attempt to sound smarter than everyone else and go against mainstream thinking solely for the sake of doing so, have maintained that he was not a reach. I am on record saying that I do not believe he will be on team when the Eagles cut their roster down to 53 players before the season starts. A rookie learning curve is one thing, but when a guy can’t even compete on special teams, that raises a serious red flag.

With Roseman having no say in personnel matters, Ed Marynowitz is now Kelly’s right-hand man in preparing for the draft, and he, at least from my perspective, inspired some confidence the other day when saying the team believes there are 8-10 difference makers in this year’s draft.

That suggests, at least in theory, that Kelly expanded the Eagles board, and knows a repeat of last May cannot happen again if the franchise is to go from good to great.

There is, of course, one who stands above all in that group of 8-10 players. It is no secret that Kelly covets his former Oregon signal-caller. The only question left to answer is whether through this convoluted offseason of quarterback roulette, he can entice some team, be it Tennessee with the second overall pick, or another club to get up high enough in a trade to be reunited with Marcus Mariota.

The feasibility of moving up high enough for the signal-caller is one thing. Whether or not Kelly should do it is another one entirely.

It is a classic debate in the principle of opportunity cost. One could fill an entire economics textbook with some of the scenarios, rumors, and proposed trades, and the semester would still end before the professor had time to teach all of it.

On one hand, with all of the picks and players he would be giving up, Kelly may never have the ammunition to build a good enough team around Mariota to win a Super Bowl. Pushing back on that concern is the classic ‘Yeah but you can’t win without a franchise quarterback,’ and Kelly already decided that the closest thing he had to one in Nick Foles wasn’t good enough to be the chosen one going forward. Why is anyone to believe that Sam Bradford is any different?

There is no shortage of risk in such a move when it comes to resource allocation, but it is difficult to believe the player itself wouldn’t pan out. If Mariota were to fail under the tutelage of his former coach in the NFL, then Kelly certainly isn’t the coach that I and many others believe him to be.

More than likely, both would be successful in a long-distance relationship occasionally texting each other “I miss you. Let’s hang out.” “I miss you too.” “I’m sorry I left like that, but I had to.” “I know. We had some awesome times together that fall back in college.” Nothing wrong with admiring from afar, but maybe just maybe, this real-life story has a fairytale ending in marriage Thursday night.

Last year when Goodell shockingly uttered the name “Marcus Smith,” the joy of the draft was gone. Regardless of what transpired from there, the thought persisted that the Eagles brain trust squandered a major opportunity to get an impact player that could have contributed right away.

A few months later, the fears were confirmed, and they began to pay the price when Smith was inactive for games. A few months after that, they were division champions no more. Gone was Roseman’s job a few weeks later.

The joy was gone, but the hope is that Kelly and Marynowitz, by being more prepared for different scenarios, can restore it in a matter of days.

Perhaps by shocking the NFL world in a much different way this time and having Goodell say the name ‘Marcus’ for a second consecutive year.

Feeling Lucky: 2014-2015 NFL Predictions

The Seattle Seahawks will put a halt to a near-decade long streak, becoming the first team since the 2005 New England Patriots to win a playoff game coming off a Super Bowl title.

Pete Carroll’s squad will do more than just win one game in January though. They will once again represent the NFC in Glendale on February 1, 2015, but the Seahawks will not repeat as champions.

If you picked up on the subtle headline hint, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will dethrone the Legion of Boom and hoist the Lombardi Trophy nearly five months from now.

Andrew Luck rises, Russell Wilson nearly does it again, Nick Foles takes another step forward, Colin Kaepernick takes a small step back, and Robert Griffin’s slide continues.

That and more as we predict team-by-team records and how the playoffs will play out below.

You can choose for yourself how much stock you put in my predictions. Last season, I did nail Seattle as my preseason Super Bowl champion but picked them to beat the Texans in the big game so…welp.

I cannot promise that I will be spot on. If I could, I might as well be in Vegas right now, but unlike hack Mike Freeman, I will try to hold myself accountable if they are embarrassingly bad.

Without further ado, let’s hit it.

NFC East

Eagles (11-5) (2)

Giants (8-8)

Redskins (6-10)

Cowboys (5-11)

Thoughts: It would be a big surprise if the Eagles do not win this semi-comfortably, and if things go according to plan, they will jump out to a quick one-game lead over everyone after this weekend. The Giants are not as bad as some seem to think but won’t be good enough to seriously challenge for a wildcard spot. Redskins and Cowboys bring up the rear in a relatively weak division.

NFC North 

Packers (10-6) (4)

Bears (9-7)

Vikings (8-8)

Lions (5-11)

Thoughts: The Seahawks can make just about an squad look bad, so I’m not reading into the Packers loss last night a ton. Aaron Rodgers hides a lot of their flaws, but they will once again find a way to take the division. The Bears come up just short again, the Vikings are a pleasant surprise, and the Lions remain the Lions.

NFC South

Saints (10-6) (3)

Bucs (8-8)

Panthers (8-8)

Falcons (7-9)

Thoughts: Always the toughest division to handicap. I think the Saints are a cut above the rest and expect Tampa Bay to be better now that they are free of the Greg Schiano experience. I love me some Kelvin Benjamin, but who else is Cam Newton throwing to outside of Greg Olsen? The Falcons get the honor of being the best last place team in the league.

NFC West

Seahawks (13-3) (1)

Cardinals (10-6) (5)

49ers (10-6) (6)

Rams (3-13)

Thoughts: It nearly happened last year, and this season it actually will — Three playoff teams out of the wild, wild west. Seattle avoids the Super Bowl hangover. I am no Bruce Arians fan, but that Cardinals team is solid. They beat out the 49ers, but Jim Harbaugh’s squad overcomes a rough start to grab the final playoff spot in the conference. The Rams win the Jameis Winston/Marcus Mariota sweepstakes.

AFC East

Patriots (11-5) (3)

Jets (8-8)

Dolphins (7-9)

Bills (4-12)

Thoughts: The more things change, the more things stay the same. The Pats roll once again while the Bills sit in the cellar. The Dolphins and Jets hang around but can’t quite crash the playoff party.

AFC North

Bengals (10-6) (4)

Ravens (8-8)

Steelers (7-9)

Browns (4-12)

Thoughts: Andy Dalton once again gets the Bengals to the playoffs and once again loses in the first round. The Ravens just miss for two straight years. I would have had the Steelers with another win or two a month ago, but they just looked awful in the preseason. Johnny Manziel gets the gig pretty early and Cleveland but makes numerous NFL front offices breathe a sigh of relief that they passed on him last May.

AFC South

Colts (12-4) (2)

Texans (9-7) (6)

Jaguars (5-11)

Titans (4-12)

Thoughts: The Colts have this thing clinched by Week 12 with the Jaguars and Titans as complete afterthoughts. Bill O’Brien works his quarterback magic and gets the Texans to the playoffs in Year 1.

AFC West

Broncos (13-3) (1)

Chargers (11-5) (5)

Chiefs (8-8)

Raiders (3-13)

Thoughts: The Broncos cruise to another division title as they play out the schedule hoping for redemption in the playoffs. Mike McCoy’s Chargers take another step forward while Andy Reid’s Chiefs take a slight step back. The Raiders remain the Raiders, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Playoffs: 

AFC Wildcard Weekend

Chargers over Bengals

Patriots over Texans

NFC Wildcard Weekend

Saints over 49ers

Cardinals over Packers

AFC Divisional Playoffs

Colts over Patriots

Broncos over Chargers

NFC Divisional Playoffs

Eagles over Saints

Seahawks over Cardinals

AFC Championship Game

Colts over Broncos

NFC Championship Game 

Seahawks over Eagles

Super Bowl

Colts over Seahawks

Would love to hear your predictions if you have any because FOOTBALL BACK

Chip GIF

Nick Foles, Kevin Kolb, Bobby Hoying, and not Letting Past Failures Frighten You About the Future

It is impossible to be on the Internet these days and not come across multiple Nick Foles think-pieces. Buzz phrases like dropped interceptions, small sample size, and system quarterback usually populate these articles.

Things sure have come a long way from a year ago when hack Mike Freeman had no idea who the Eagles signal-caller was.

The Eagles report for camp today. For the first time in five seasons, Michael Vick won’t be there, and that’s freakin awesome in my opinion. Vick left Philadelphia a better and more mature person than when he arrived, but the Eagles were never going to win anything beyond maybe a division title with him.

Those who follow me on the Twitter machine know that I was advocating for Foles to win the job from Day 1 last spring and summer. I don’t mention this now simply to say I was correct that Foles would ultimately end up with the gig at some point. Rather, it just seemed from the start that Foles was more equipped to run a Chip Kelly offense.

Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas put up monster numbers under Kelly before Marcus Mariota carried the torch, but I always perceived a quarterback in a Kelly led-system akin to a very good, but not quite superstar point guard in the NBA. The quarterback facilitates and distributes while the offense runs through everyone. Foles is exactly that. When Vick was the starter during the first quarter of the season, the offense went too much through Vick as the focal point.

By sticking with Foles and forgoing the opportunity to draft Johnny Manziel, Kelly — intentionally or not — fought back against the inaccurate narrative that he needs a mobile quarterback to win in the NFL.

The common theme regardless of the pundit opining on the guy who replaced Vick is that his 2013 touchdown to interception ratio of 27:2 is unsustainable and some natural regression will set in because quarterbacks just don’t throw so few interceptions in a season.

This is in all likelihood correct to a good extent, but in Philadelphia, the doubt seems to take on a different angle. The fear here comes from previous heartbreaks of seeing under the radar quarterbacks burst onto the scene only to quickly and violently combust before ever truly arriving.

It happened in 1998 with Bobby Hoying and occurred again more recently with Kevin Kolb. Now, four years removed from the Kolb sequel, some worry that another young, potential quarterback of the future has teased folks into thinking he’s the one only to let us down again.

Not so, my friends. Not so.

Let’s take a trip down memory’s lane with Hoying’s game log from 1997 courtesy of Pro-Football Reference:

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD
1 1997 10 1997-11-10 25-051 PHI SFO L 12-24 8 14 57.14% 94 1 0 101.5 6.71 8.14 0 0 0
2 1997 11 1997-11-16 25-057 PHI @ BAL T 10-10 * 26 38 68.42% 276 0 0 89.4 7.26 7.26 1 6 6.00 0
3 1997 12 1997-11-23 25-064 PHI PIT W 23-20 * 15 31 48.39% 246 2 0 97.0 7.94 9.23 5 -4 -0.80 0
4 1997 13 1997-11-30 25-071 PHI CIN W 44-42 * 26 42 61.90% 313 4 1 106.5 7.45 8.29 5 62 12.40 0
5 1997 14 1997-12-07 25-078 PHI NYG L 21-31 * 16 35 45.71% 209 1 3 38.9 5.97 2.69 1 6 6.00 0
6 1997 15 1997-12-14 25-085 PHI @ ATL L 17-20 * 16 34 47.06% 180 1 1 60.9 5.29 4.56 2 6 3.00 0
7 1997 16 1997-12-21 25-092 PHI @ WAS L 32-35 * 21 31 67.74% 255 2 1 100.9 8.23 8.06 2 2 1.00 0

That amounts to season statistics of: 11 TD’s, 6 INT’s , 1573 yards, and a relatively weak 56.9 completion percentage.

Not counting the 49ers game in which Hoying didn’t actually start, this totals a 2-3-1 record, but a further look inside the box scores shows that the shootout against Cincinnati really inflated these numbers. Hoying tossed six interceptions in his final four games and completed less than 50 percent of his passes in two of the three.

While these certainly aren’t awful numbers to post as a second year player and first-time starter on a below average team, the 1998 collapse isn’t shocking when seeing how the year before ended.

Open your eyes slowly. I assume no liability for what this chart may do to them.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD
8 1998 1 1998-09-06 25-351 PHI SEA L 0-38 * 9 23 39.13% 60 0 1 29.1 2.61 0.65 3 13 4.33 0
9 1998 2 1998-09-13 25-358 PHI @ ATL L 12-17 * 24 35 68.57% 232 0 0 86.8 6.63 6.63 4 18 4.50 0
10 1998 3 1998-09-20 26-000 PHI @ ARI L 3-17 * 13 23 56.52% 121 0 1 53.0 5.26 3.30 3 18 6.00 0
11 1998 5 1998-10-04 26-014 PHI @ DEN L 16-41 * 11 24 45.83% 96 0 1 39.6 4.00 2.13 1 6 6.00 0
12 1998 8 1998-11-02 26-043 PHI DAL L 0-34 13 39 33.33% 124 0 2 21.7 3.18 0.87 2 5 2.50 0
13 1998 9 1998-11-08 26-049 PHI DET W 10-9 * 15 21 71.43% 97 0 0 80.9 4.62 4.62 2 -4 -2.00 0
14 1998 10 1998-11-15 26-056 PHI @ WAS L 3-28 * 15 31 48.39% 110 0 2 30.3 3.55 0.65 3 5 1.67 0
15 1998 11 1998-11-22 26-063 PHI @ NYG L 0-20 * 14 28 50.00% 121 0 2 32.0 4.32 1.11 4 23 5.75 0

Season stats: Zero touchdowns, nine interceptions, 961 yards, and an even worse 50.9 completion percentage over eight games.

As a rookie with two years less experience and playing behind a broken down offensive line along with a dysfunctional coaching staff on its way out the door, Foles in comparison posted six touchdowns, five interceptions, 1699 yards, and a very respectable 60.8 completion percentage over seven games.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
1 2012 9 2012-11-11 23-296 PHI DAL L 23-38 22 32 68.75% 219 1 1 85.3 6.84 6.06 0 0 0 0 0
2 2012 10 2012-11-18 23-303 PHI @ WAS L 6-31 * 21 46 45.65% 204 0 2 40.5 4.43 2.48 1 0 0.00 0 0 0
3 2012 11 2012-11-26 23-311 PHI CAR L 22-30 * 16 21 76.19% 119 0 0 89.2 5.67 5.67 1 0 0.00 0 0 0
4 2012 12 2012-12-02 23-317 PHI @ DAL L 33-38 * 22 34 64.71% 251 1 0 96.6 7.38 7.97 0 0 0 0 0
5 2012 13 2012-12-09 23-324 PHI @ TAM W 23-21 * 32 51 62.75% 381 2 0 98.6 7.47 8.25 3 27 9.00 1 1 6
6 2012 14 2012-12-13 23-328 PHI CIN L 13-34 * 16 33 48.48% 180 1 1 62.7 5.45 4.70 2 5 2.50 0 0 0
7 2012 15 2012-12-23 23-338 PHI WAS L 20-27 * 32 48 66.67% 345 1 1 85.9 7.19 6.67 4 10 2.50 0 0 0

Opposite of Hoying’s first season, Foles ended on a high note with five touchdown passes and two interceptions over his final four games.

Let’s proceed to Kolb’s charts:

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
8 2009 1 2009-09-13 25-020 PHI @ CAR W 38-10 7 11 63.64% 23 0 0 67.6 2.09 2.09 3 4 1.33 0 0 0
9 2009 2 2009-09-20 25-027 PHI NOR L 22-48 * 31 51 60.78% 391 2 3 73.2 7.67 5.80 1 -6 -6.00 0 0 0
10 2009 3 2009-09-27 25-034 PHI KAN W 34-14 * 24 34 70.59% 327 2 0 120.6 9.62 10.79 1 1 1.00 1 1 6
11 2009 4 2009-10-11 25-048 PHI TAM W 33-14
12 2009 12 2009-12-06 25-104 PHI @ ATL W 34-7

These final numbers in a small sample size aren’t bad, but the three interceptions against New Orleans raises a bit of a flag. Foles has only once thrown multiple interceptions in an NFL game, and it occurred in his first ever start against the Redskins, zero times since.

Kolb’s 2010 season paints a slightly bigger picture of mediocrity.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
13 2010 1 2010-09-12 26-019 PHI GNB L 20-27 * 5 10 50.00% 24 0 0 56.2 2.40 2.40 0 0 0 0 0
14 2010 4 2010-10-03 26-040 PHI WAS L 12-17 22 35 62.86% 201 1 1 76.0 5.74 5.03 2 21 10.50 0 0 0
15 2010 5 2010-10-10 26-047 PHI @ SFO W 27-24 * 21 31 67.74% 253 1 0 103.3 8.16 8.81 3 17 5.67 0 0 0
16 2010 6 2010-10-17 26-054 PHI ATL W 31-17 * 23 29 79.31% 326 3 1 133.6 11.24 11.76 2 1 0.50 0 0 0
17 2010 7 2010-10-24 26-061 PHI @ TEN L 19-37 * 26 48 54.17% 231 1 2 56.9 4.81 3.35 3 18 6.00 0 0 0
18 2010 9 2010-11-15 26-083 PHI @ WAS W 59-28 0 0 0 0 0 1 -1 -1.00 0 0 0
19 2010 16 2011-01-02 26-131 PHI DAL L 13-14 * 18 36 50.00% 162 1 3 37.0 4.50 1.31 4 9 2.25 0 0 0

Completion percentage was always a strong attribute, and in fairness to him, the Cowboys game was played surrounded by backups. Still, this was a fourth year quarterback in a familiar system, and his numbers are still nowhere close to Foles’ last season.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
8 2013 2 2013-09-15 24-238 PHI SDG L 30-33 0 1 0.00% 0 0 0 39.6 0.00 0.00 0 0 0 0 0
9 2013 4 2013-09-29 24-252 PHI @ DEN L 20-52 3 4 75.00% 49 1 0 155.2 12.25 17.25 0 0 0 0 0
10 2013 5 2013-10-06 24-259 PHI @ NYG W 36-21 16 25 64.00% 197 2 0 114.9 7.88 9.48 3 1 0.33 0 0 0
11 2013 6 2013-10-13 24-266 PHI @ TAM W 31-20 * 22 31 70.97% 296 3 0 133.3 9.55 11.48 3 2 0.67 1 1 6
12 2013 7 2013-10-20 24-273 PHI DAL L 3-17 * 11 29 37.93% 80 0 0 46.2 2.76 2.76 3 25 8.33 0 0 0
13 2013 9 2013-11-03 24-287 PHI @ OAK W 49-20 * 22 28 78.57% 406 7 0 158.3 14.50 19.50 4 10 2.50 0 0 0
14 2013 10 2013-11-10 24-294 PHI @ GNB W 27-13 * 12 18 66.67% 228 3 0 149.3 12.67 16.00 8 38 4.75 0 0 0
15 2013 11 2013-11-17 24-301 PHI WAS W 24-16 * 17 26 65.38% 298 0 0 104.3 11.46 11.46 9 47 5.22 1 1 6
16 2013 12 2013-12-01 24-315 PHI ARI W 24-21 * 21 34 61.76% 237 3 0 112.0 6.97 8.74 9 22 2.44 0 0 0
17 2013 13 2013-12-08 24-322 PHI DET W 34-20 * 11 22 50.00% 179 1 1 73.9 8.14 7.00 6 23 3.83 1 1 6
18 2013 14 2013-12-15 24-329 PHI @ MIN L 30-48 * 30 48 62.50% 428 3 1 103.5 8.92 9.23 5 41 8.20 0 0 0
19 2013 15 2013-12-22 24-336 PHI CHI W 54-11 * 21 25 84.00% 230 2 0 131.7 9.20 10.80 2 17 8.50 0 0 0
20 2013 16 2013-12-29 24-343 PHI @ DAL W 24-22 * 17 26 65.38% 263 2 0 124.4 10.12 11.65 5 -5 -1.00 0 0 0

Minus the odd fiasco of the first Dallas game, it is pretty difficult to pinpoint a contest where Foles played poorly. His numbers against Detroit are average, but that game probably deserves to be graded on a steep curve given the snowy conditions. The Minnesota game is a bit inflated due to being behind in the second half and throwing nonstop but still nothing to really scoff at.

It should be clear as day that Foles is not a third coming of Hoying or Kolb, but we’ll touch on this topic again later. First, let’s have a bit more fun and compare Foles to some of the newer, more accomplished quarterbacks in the league.

QB Comp Att Comp % Yards TD INT Sacks Record
Nick Foles 323 520 62.1 4125 29 6 45 10 W, 6 L
Andrew Luck 339 627 54.1 4374 23 18 41 11 W, 5 L
Robert Griffin 288 442 65.1 3529 22 7 35 9 W, 7 L
Russell Wilson 252 393 64.1 3118 26 10 40 11 W, 5 L
Ryan Tannehill 282 484 58.3 3294 12 13 35 7 W, 9 L
Colin Kaepernick 259 433 59.8 3627 22 10 29 11 W, 5 L

All of these quarterbacks were selected in the 2012 draft ahead of Foles aside from Kaepernick who went early in the second round a year earlier. Brandon Weeden was left off because…well yeah. Some notes here as I want to be transparent with methodology:

  • I cut RG3 a break and did not include his playoff start against the Seahawks where he suffered a torn ACL. Rather, his 2013 opener against the Eagles was included to make 16 games.
  • Foles’ stats begin with the 2012 game at the Redskins and continue through the 2013 season beginning with the contest at the Bucs. The Giants game the previous week was not included since he did not start. The playoff game is also not included (but I promise more is coming on that)
  • Kaepernick begins with the 2012 game against the Bears, includes all three playoff games, and runs through the Week 6 game against the Cardinals in 2013.

Going through the categories, Foles is third in completion percentage, first in yards, and first in touchdown passes. His record is better than Griffin and Tannehill and only a game behind Luck, Wilson, and Kaepernick. Those three obviously have won playoff games, something Foles has yet to accomplish.

Taking less sacks is clearly something Foles can improve upon, but despite the second most passing attempts by a pretty wide margin, he has still thrown the least amount of interceptions with six.

There seems to be some perception that Foles got incredibly lucky when it comes to throwing only two interceptions last season. The overturned Patrick Peterson play is a popular one to cite, but as pointed out by Mike Tanier of Sports of Earth and several others, Foles only benefited from three of these dropped balls last season, which is totally normal.

Also consider that Foles didn’t play in three games and barely played in two others. While 27 and two won’t be repeated, there’s nothing wrong with 32 and 10. Plenty of quarterbacks get teams to the playoffs doing just that.

No scout would tell you that Foles is more talented than Luck, but based on the numbers from this chart, he can go toe-to-toe with any of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

While this point cannot be measured in numbers, I’m going to make the claim that Foles’ roadmap to NFL success was a bit more challenging. He is the only quarterback on this list who played for a different head coach between Year 1 and Year 2. CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank has done a nice job chronicling Foles’ path to rising stardom in a 5-part series.

Never a sought after recruit, Foles by my count has been challenged to learn five different offensive systems going back to his senior year of high school in 2006. In his senior season at Arizona, head coach Mike Stoops was fired after a 1-5 start. For the first time in a long time, Foles finally has stability around him.

Additionally, Foles has to fight back against the narrative of being a third round pick. Generally, quarterbacks selected in the third round aren’t expected to become franchise cornerstones. If Luck or Cam Newton has a bad day and tosses three interceptions (something that has happened to them six and five times respectively), it’s more or less written off because they’re number one overall picks progressing through growing pains.

Foles has never thrown three interceptions in a single game, but all it took was one bad showing against Dallas last season for some folks to make the declaration that he can’t play and is destined to be a career backup.

Fittingly enough, the Eagles face every quarterback listed on the chart other than Tannehill this season.

There’s one quarterback not yet mentioned however. Let’s talk about Drew Brees for a minute — the guy who ended Foles’ 2013 season.

QB Comp Att Comp % Yards TD INT Sacks
Foles 23 33 69.7 195 2 0 2
Brees 20 30 66.7 250 1 2 2

I don’t think it’s any question which quarterback was better that night. Yes, the Saints won the game. The Eagles lost because of a disastrous first half drive, which included a sack of Foles, that ended with an Alex Henery missed field goal. Billy Davis made it such a priority to contain Jimmy Graham that the Saints gashed the Eagles on the ground, Riley Cooper dropped a wide open pass, and the offense took too long to get going.

When it got going though, it was something to watch, almost capping off a comeback after being down 20-7.

In Buzz Bissinger’s lengthy profile on Foles, he mentions that the quarterback “looked confused in the second half of the loss to the New Orleans Saints in last year’s playoffs.”

The numbers don’t really back that up. In the final two quarters, Foles was 10 of 16 for 97 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.

The last we saw of Foles was him finding Zach Ertz in the end zone to put the Eagles in the lead late in the fourth quarter. Does this drive chart resemble a quarterback who looked scared or “confused”?

Foles vs. Saints

Against a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a Super Bowl champion coach, and a defense that had surrendered the fourth lowest point total in the regular season, Foles in his first ever playoff game, calmly engineered a near flawless drive to walk off the field with the lead.

There was no way the Eagles were getting by Seattle last season, but they certainly would have stood a strong chance against Carolina and playing two more games would have been huge for the team’s development.

Unfortunately, it ended so quickly. The short kickoff, the horse collar, the 13 yard run on 2nd and 11, the chip shot field goal. It was over, and Foles never got another chance.

Seventy seven yards on nine plays though with your season on the line and absolutely needing a touchdown. I’d like to see Kolb or Hoying attempt that.

Thankfully we don’t have to because these aren’t your older brother’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Hell no. These aren’t Andy Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles or Kevin Kolb’s Philadelphia Eagles, and they’re certainly not Ray Rhodes’ or Bobby Hoying’s Philadelphia Eagles.

No, these are Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles, and Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles are Nick Foles’ Philadelphia Eagles, and “Nick Foles’ Philadelphia Eagles” has a pretty nice ring to it — perhaps even a Super Bowl ring to it.