Philadelphia Eagles Fans Risk Getting Hopes Up with Nick Foles

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 23, 2012

August 9, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) watches from the sidelines late in the 4th quarter of game against the Pittsburgh Steelers  at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Eagles defeated the Steelers, 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Is it a coincidence that Philadelphia—a city that loves its backup quarterbacks as much as its cheesesteaks—has a football coach who seems to have a knack for finding quality backup pivots?

Or is it that guys like A.J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia and Kevin Kolb (and even Michael Vick when he was backing up Donovan McNabb) have had their reputations inflated by the city's natural adoration for whoever isn't starting under center?

The newest hot backup signal-caller was supposed to be Mike Kafka, but he's already been eclipsed by rookie third-round pick Nick Foles.

Kafka is hurt, and he struggled prior to suffering that injury in the team's first preseason game. Vick is hurt, and while he's undoubtedly the best candidate to lead Philadelphia to a championship, fans are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the 32-year-old's ability to stay healthy.

Consider that, and then consider that Foles has posted a 118.4 passer rating while looking close to unbreakable in the pocket, and it's easy to understand why the 23-year-old Arizona product has become the most talked about pro athlete in the city.

Yet, while I believe Philly sports fans are smart sports fans, I know that intense love and irrationality go hand in hand. And that's why I worry that those bleeding green are eventually going to be let down by another backup-turned-spot-starter.

Based solely on his performance this preseason, Eagles fans will inevitably call for Foles the moment Vick stumbles. And if, or when No. 7 either suffers an injury that forces him to miss out on snaps or hits a wall in terms of his productivity, the staff will have to decide between Kafka and Foles.

If Foles gets the nod, a man who was passed on 87 times in April's draft—a guy who had 14 interceptions and won just four games last year in the Pac-12—will be lassoed with an unfair amount of pressure to perform. 

Foles has the arm, the size and the pocket presence to become a great quarterback in this league, and that might even happen right away. But there remains a very good chance his performances thus far have been enhanced by the quality of the defenses he's been facing.

In Foxboro Monday night, Foles went up against a New England defense that sat key starters Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty. And even with those guys last year, the Patriots were ranked 31st in the league overall and against the pass.

The week prior against Pittsburgh, Foles didn't enter the game until Pittsburgh's starters had exited in the second half.

He's yet to throw a single pass in his career against a first-team defense, and yet a city is already asking if he's the answer to a 46-year-old riddle. Welcome to Philadelphia, Nick.

To get a feel for how meaningless big rookie preseason performances can be, Eagles fans merely have to look at the other quarterback on their roster: Trent Edwards.

With the Buffalo Bills in the 2007 preseason, Captain Checkdown himself completed 75.4 percent of his passes and posted a passer rating of 99.9. 

I'm not saying Foles is the next Edwards. I'm just saying it's unwise to read too deep into preseason results. Right now, he's not the next anybody.