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Is Nick Foles a dinosaur, or does he just move like one? NFL Unfiltered: Week 11

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If you define professional football by saber metrics or statistical measurements, the love affair between you and Nick Foles is likely raging out of control.  

The numbers are difficult to argue: 4-1 as a starter, 16 TDs, zero INTs and a 128 passer rating.  Yet, there is a fundamental question fantasy geeks ignore: beyond the numbers, what stands out about Foles’ game?    

He is still a slow-footed, average-armed quarterback, who is playing at an exceptionally high level.  But it’s a mistake to believe the Eagles no longer have an opening at quarterback.  Photo: washingtonpost.com

What we are experiencing is almost unexplainable. It’s as if he rubbed a magic lamp and a genie granted him three wishes.  More likely, he rubbed head coach Chip Kelly, who deserves a mountain of credit for making Foles so viable.    

Still, there are legitimate reasons why it is fair to question or even doubt Foles’ merits, despite near flawless play in the last three games.  

One, is the realization that superstar quarterbacks with his skill set is an endangered species in the NFL.  In fact, only two remain, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  And nobody is foolish enough to compare Foles to either one of them. Philip Rivers is also solid and so is Eli Manning, but these guys are the equivalent to dial-up internet.  

Another more important reason is, beyond his gaudy statistics, Foles’ sample size is exceedingly small.  This in no way diminishes his accomplishments thus far, but he only has 11 career starts. That, along with his “4.3 30,” ought to give this fan base pause.  

Has Foles really done enough to ignore his obvious deficiencies?  Or, do you believe the NFL is moving toward statuesque signal-callers, who struggle to throw the football 45 yards?    

Foles is an anomaly for the wrong reasons and if you disagree, look no further than his young peers.  There isn’t another young quarterback in the entire league like him.

Consider, 15 of the 32 quarterbacks who began the season as starters were under 27 years of age.  And of those 15, only six—Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick—are keepers, firmly entrenched as the present and future of their respective teams.  Foles isn’t comparable to anyone of them.

The rest is a mixed bag of underachievers (Jack Locker, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford), unknown commodities (Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel), or plain awful (Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder).  

To which category does Foles belong?  

The point here isn’t to dismiss Foles out of hand as if he doesn’t belong in the NFL, he does. Foles’ seven-TD performance against the Raiders is one of the league’s great feats.  But it’s important to maintain perspective, to exhale and ask yourself, “Is Nick Foles the Eagles’ best quarterback option for September 2014, or is he simply the best option right now?”   

As the support for Foles increases, talk of what he needs to do to keep the starting job next season grows.  Some suggest the Eagles must win the division, while others draw the line at winning a playoff game.

But that kind of thinking misses the point because the truth is, there is nothing Foles can do this or any other season to change who he is.      

Foles is obviously a capable backup, but when you look at the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, he simply doesn’t look the part.    

The Eagles know it and so do you.

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 11  

-RGIII’s decisions convince me he is averse to coaching right now. Mike Shanahan certainly has his issues, but his quarterback plays with a defiant recklessness.  

-When an offense rushes to the line of scrimmage to avoid replay intervention, why isn’t the defense coached to fake a cramp?  One TV timeout is more than enough time to make an educated decision on whether a challenge is warranted.  The “we didn’t get a look at the replay” excuse is old, tired and still makes coaches seem incompetent.  

-Jets quarterback Geno Smith played poorly against the Bills and Colin Kaepernick had an ordinary game at New Orleans. Smith’s head coach Rex Ryan went on and on about the negatives, making it clear to anyone listening he thought Smith lost the game for his Jets.  Conversely, Jim Harbaugh praised Kaepernick, identified many positives and didn’t criticize him once. Who do you think is more likely to develop into greatness?  

-Lions head coach Jim Schwartz acts as if he has a Napoleon complex. Why else would he attempt a fake field goal up four points, from the Steelers’ 10-yard line?

-The Chiefs have a good defense, but it’s a level below the Panthers, Seahawks and 49ers.  Photo: USA TODAY sports

-The mediocrity at quarterback for most of the teams in the AFC means the Patriots or Broncos are going to the Super Bowl.    

-It’s amazing how many good things have to happen to a team quarterbacked by Alex Smith in order to win a game.  

-On the field, Cam Newton has a clownish, Dwight Howard-like quality that isn’t conducive to winning championships- though it’s probably great for his brand.  

-Bill Belichick must have had a very good reason for not calling timeout at the end of the first half against the Panthers. Or, he simply blew it.  

-After Spygate and a number of favorable calls over the years, the Patriots don’t deserve anymore breaks from the officials. 

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Nick Foles photo: washingtonpost.com

Brady photo: USA TODAY sports