clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nick Foles is ready to finish what he started with the Eagles

In 2013, Foles had a historic season with the Eagles, before being cut by two different teams. Now, Philadelphia’s Super Bowl hopes hinge on his play.

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – An NFL starting quarterback must command his quarterback room. The room serves as an offensive laboratory for the starter and his backups. Offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches have a presence, but the starting quarterback must own it.

Carson Wentz quickly learned to rule his room.

He steadily grew in it during his rookie Philadelphia Eagles season in 2016. This season he reigned in it. Backups Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld watched as Wentz would hold the clicker, run the video, dissect the plays and blurt his insights. The room’s walls were filled with scribbled Eagles offensive plays. Foles and Sudfeld offered encouragement and additional views. But Wentz was the primary voice. He was the quarterback room axis.

On the sidelines during games this season, Foles and Sudfeld visually played the games in their heads and pondered -– “Wow, that was a great throw by Carson … so I’m guessing we’ll try this next … interesting call … that’s a nice way that Carson actually interpreted and executed that play … what do we do here? …..’’

This is what backup quarterbacks typically do during games. Mix and muse. Stay ready. Always a play away …

Down went Wentz against the Rams in Week 14 on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. A knee injury. He would be out for the season.

In came Foles.

Foles told me that day in the Los Angeles Coliseum — after I mentioned that Eagles fans would be wondering if they are getting the guy who threw 27 touchdown passes in 2013 or the guy who has been invisible since — “Well, that guy is still here. Right here.’’

And now Foles and the Eagles are here in Super Bowl 52.

Foles helped the Eagles direct a fresh flight plan. He beat Atlanta and Minnesota in the playoffs and now meets New England in this championship clash. He confronts the Patriots and their quarterback jewel, Tom Brady.

Few think Foles can match Brady — let alone beat him.

But his Eagles teammates are convinced he can do it.

Wentz and Sudfeld says the conviction originated in the quarterback room. It has to happen there before it can happen on the field.

“It’s incredible, really,’’ Sudfeld said. “Nick knows he’s the guy. He’s the one in the quarterback room with the clicker now. He’s running the video. He’s doing the analysis. Carson and I listen, support. We offer tips. But Nick controls it. He’s embraced it. Now Carson and I play the games in our heads on the sidelines. We’re there like brothers for him. It’s his team, his offense, and he’s the starter in this Super Bowl. He’s rolling with it from the quarterback room to the field. It is an amazing thing to see.’’

In the NFL roles reverse.

Players come. Players go.

Sometimes they return.

Foles was drafted by the Eagles in 2012 and the following year produced that Pro Bowl season. The year afterward he was traded to the Rams. And the year after that he was cut by the Rams. He spent the 2016 season as a Kansas City backup.

He returned to the Eagles this season.

His journey seems impossible to him: a roundabout one that lands him back with his original team and in this Super Bowl. He was in tears thinking about it here this week when discussing the meaning of it for him and his family.

John DeFilippo, the Eagles’ quarterback coach, said during the team’s bye week that he asked Foles to study the offensive plays he liked and choose 25 he thought worked best for him. The plays and the concepts, too.

This helped lead to the Eagles creating a spicy package of run-pass option plays that suit Foles’ strengths. Since that emergency fill-in game at Los Angeles, the Eagles offense has continually morphed into one for Foles rather than for Wentz.

DeFilippo coaches demeanor as much as execution in his quarterbacks.

“I think body language matters,’’ DeFilippo said. “Our quarterbacks are taught that. We have body language fines, small ones, when they make mistakes in that area. I want the team to know that the quarterback is always in charge.’’

He said Foles is exuding that aura.

“I’m a different person than I was when I first came to Philadelphia,’’ Foles said. “I’ve grown. I’ve matured. I’ve been preparing all of my life for this moment.’’

The chance to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship.

The Eagles are counting on Wentz’s healthy return for the 2018 season. He is their franchise quarterback. That is their plan. Wentz is their man.

That has nothing to do with this moment, this Foles moment. Foles was brought back to Philadelphia for insurance. Foles knows it is time to cash in.

It takes ownership and leadership to do it. It requires aggressive and elite play to foil Brady and the Patriots.

Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks is in his sixth NFL season. He has watched as the Eagles offense has evolved around Foles. He has watched Foles grow comfortable, embrace it.

From backup to starter demands command moments.

From the quarterback room to the field, there is something distinctive about Foles.

“It’s his class, character, leadership, command of the huddle, his willingness to do what is asked of him — man, this is just a very good dude,’’ Brooks said. “He puts in the extra time. He’s come back to Philadelphia to finish what he started.’’

How the Eagles can win with Nick Foles at quarterback