MAN DOWN, MAN UP: Where Eagles Dare

It was a pretty disastrous weekend in Philadelphia, and with Carson Wentz lost of the season Richard O’Hagan takes a look at the new man behind center for the Eagles.

This is a strange edition of ‘Man Down, Man Up’. Normally in this slot we’d be talking about some raw newbie thrown into the fray at a vital point in his franchise’s season, or a wizened old veteran hauled off the street in the hope of salvaging something from the ashes.

That’s not the case in Philadelphia, though. Nick Foles might never be the long term answer to any franchise’s long-term problems, but he’s no Brandon Weedon. What, then, does Carson Wentz‘s injury mean for the Eagles‘ hopes of a Lombardi trophy.

As some have observed, Wentz’s injury was typical of the Eagles’ luck over the season. A torn ACL suffered whilst attempting a touchdown which would have been negated by a holding penalty anyway is pretty unfortunate for any team, let alone one with serious championship ambitions.

Where the Eagles are more fortunate than most, though, is that they have a back-up quarterback who most teams would want to have in this situation. Indeed, if you discount the Week 13 version of Eli Manning, there probably aren’t that many better than Foles on the other 31 rosters.

Foles has been in this position before, in both 2012 and 2013. In the latter season, his response to replacing Michael Vick after injury was to throw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions, a TD/INT ratio which remains a record. He was Chip Kelly‘s first choice quarterback when the madcap coach took over the Eagles in 2014 and only lost his starting berth amid the mayhem which ensued when he broke his collarbone. He was traded to the Rams the next season in exchange for Sam Bradford, but, after some decent initial games with a poor team, struggled and was eventually benched, then had a futile season in Kansas, where he stood no chance of beating out Andy Reid favourite Alex Smith for the starting berth, before returning to Pittsburgh for this season.

In short, Foles is a cut above your average back-up. He’s been a successful starter on two teams, albeit that he hasn’t been able to keep that success going. He’s had some brilliant moments as a back-up, coming into the team late in the season and doing well. His passer rating so far this season is 90.8 and his career rating of 88.1 is better than that of many starters. Indeed, his passer rating with the Eagles alone is 92.6!

Of course, the offensive system under Doug Pedersen is different, but it’s also loaded with weapons and a damn sight more effective than anything Foles has played in to date. If he has mastered the complexities of it, there seems little reason to think that the Eagles will be that much worse off with him throwing the balls than they would be with Wentz.

Richard O’Hagan

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Richard O'Hagan
Writer on such diverse topics as sport, music, theatre, law and politics. Author of 'Eddie the Sheep'. Supporter of underachieving teams, including the Chicago Bears from before that brief, heady, period in the mid-1980s when they were actually any good. All I want for Christmas is a Jim McMahon away shirt.
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    It was a pretty disastrous weekend in Philadelphia, and with Carson Wentz lost of the season Richard O’Hagan takes a look at the new man behind center
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