Nick Foles is a good story — but it won’t be good enough
Second of a two-part series on why the Eagles can’t win the Super Bowl vs. the Patriots.
Part two: Nick Foles
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has Calvin Schiraldi Eyes.
Take it from somebody who was at Shea Stadium in 1986 when clueless John McNamara kept handing the ball to Schiraldi, a forlorn Texan with a hard slider and a soft core. Just as you don’t want a closer with puppy-dog eyes, you don’t want your quarterback looking all sad and wistful. It projects weakness and saps confidence.
The matchup of Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII is half the reason that the Eagles have no chance to beat the Patriots (the other half is Doug Pederson vs. Bill Belichick, which we covered in the first installment of this series).
Foles is a great national story this week. He is a once-traded, twice-released backup quarterback who’s going to start in the Super Bowl. He’s Rocky Balboa. He’s Rudy. He’s the Hoosier high school basketball team from Hickory. Gene Hackman is going to bring a tape measure to U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday and prove to Foles that the Super Bowl goalpost crossbars are only 10 feet high.
Foles is a backup quarterback who finds himself starting a Super Bowl against Tom Brady. Foles is a 29-year-old guy with 39 career NFL starts. He is a guy who was released by the Rams in 2016 after throwing seven TDs with 10 interceptions and compiling a horrible passer rating of 69.0. He was cut loose by the Chiefs in 2017.
He considered retiring. He didn’t play any preseason games in 2017 because of a right elbow injury. He didn’t become this year’s Eagles starter until Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles threw only four passes in the Eagles’ first 12 games. His lifetime completion percentage is 60.1 percent. In regular-season play, he has 61 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions.
And now he’s in the Super Bowl. Against the Patriots. Against Belichick. Against Brady.
The vaunted Philadelphia Inquirer this week crunched the numbers and concluded that Foles vs. Brady is the second-worst quarterback matchup in the 52 years of Super Bowl history. The only bigger mismatch was Vince Ferragamo vs. Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl XIV. That means Foles-Brady is worse than Rex Grossman-Peyton Manning or David Woodley-Joe Theismann.
Here’s Brady on Foles: “Pretty amazing. I think that shows what he’s all about. He’s been a starter in this league. He knows what he’s doing. This team has a lot of confidence in him. He’s had a great year for the time he’s been in there.’’
Swell. But there is scant precedent for a guy with this background winning a Super Bowl.
Giants backup Jeff Hostetler won a Super Bowl for Bill Parcells in relief of Phil Simms in 1990, but Hostetler took over earlier in the season. Earl Morrall took the 1969 Colts to the Super Bowl in relief of Johnny Unitas but famously lost to Joe Namath and the Jets. Doug Williams (Redskins) and Trent Dilfer (Ravens) won Super Bowls despite not starting the majority of their team’s regular-season games. They probably come closest to being Nick Foles.
Foles grew up in Texas (like Schiraldi), went to Michigan State, then transferred to Arizona. He was the Eagles’ third-round pick in 2012 and became a starter in the middle of his rookie season. After two more seasons as the starter, he was traded to the Rams. Thus the beginning of his journeyman days, which have led him to center stage at the Super Bowl.
Against the greatest quarterback of all time.
Foles was 13 years old when Brady started winning championships. Does Nick have any recollection of watching Tom dethrone the Rams in New Orleans back in February 2002?
“I don’t remember the first time I watched him,’’ Foles said. “I didn’t watch a lot of football growing up. I was always outside playing. My dad always wanted me to be watching, but I was always outside. So even if I did see some of it, I don’t remember.
“Obviously Tom Brady is one of the greatest to ever play the game. We’ve just traveled different roads, different paths. I’m a lot younger in my career. He’s done a lot of great things in his career. A lot of young players like myself watched him growing up, but then you take your own path.’’
These are good, encouraging answers if you are an Eagles fan. Foles is telling you that he is not in awe of Brady. He is not worshipping at the feet of TB12. The Eagles QB gets points for this. He also gets props for his performance in the NFC Championship game — completing 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards in a 38-7 rout of the Vikings, who had the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
But the flip side of the feel-good Foles fable is that the Patriots have Brady, a veteran of seven Super Bowls, and without doubt the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady has brought his team back from deficits of 10 or more points in four playoff games since 2014, including two of the last three Super Bowls.
Brady is about to become a 40-year-old league MVP. He is married to a supermodel, infinitely wealthy, and globally famous.
And he’s going to lose a Super Bowl to . . . Nick Foles?