Nick Foles, Bryce Brown Take Large Steps Toward Becoming Keys Cogs in Philly

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws a pass to running back Bryce Brown (34) against the Dallas Cowboys during the game at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In Washington, a rookie quarterback-running back duo has changed the face of, and the expectations for, the Redskins. But considering what the 'Skins invested in Robert Griffin III and what Mike Shanahan's been known to get out of backs like Alfred Morris, few are overly surprised by the emergence of that offensive duo.

In Philadelphia, with a little less fanfare and a lot less glory, a rookie quarterback-running back duo is quietly starting to perform well enough in place of injured stars that many are beginning to wonder if Nick Foles and Bryce Brown might just continue to start for the Eagles in 2013 and beyond. 

Sunday night, in front of a national audience in Dallas, Foles and Brown both had their best performances yet.

Foles, the third-round quarterback out of Arizona, actually attempted—and completed—some deep passes while displaying discipline, calmness and accuracy under pressure.

And Brown—a seventh-round pick out of Kansas State with a troubled past—put up 169 yards rushing, hitting that mark for the second consecutive week while at least reducing his fumble total from two to one. Hooray?

The point is that both looked like they could become quality starters in this league, further complicating the situation in Philly. 

A look at the good and the bad from Sunday's performances.


Foles the good

This isn't tangible, but he quite simply looked less shaky against Dallas. He was no longer detecting pressure that didn't exist and made some big throws when required.

The best play he made all night was when he stood tall in the face of a blitz from Ernie Sims, which was not picked up, and threw a strike to Brent Celek for a first down...

Later, without pressure, he dropped a beautiful ball between the corner and the safety for Jason Avant on a 29-yard gain...

It was good to see Foles display patience with his progressions. No jumpiness. He has the gun, and now he's beginning to develop so that he can use it without becoming a liability. 


Brown the good

Bryce Brown is simply lights-out right now in terms of sheer speed and electricity. I still don't know how he beat safety Danny McCray to the edge here...

He made something out of absolutely nothing on this 10-yard gain in the fourth quarter. I've marked the line of scrimmage...

He also nearly broke his own ankles on a cut on a 17-yard gain that gave him at least a handful of extra yards. The cut was so violent that it sent him to the ground without contact before he was able to get up and grab extra yardage.

Foles the bad

It was actually a very impressive day when you consider how hard it was to find glaring mistakes. However, Foles still missed on a couple of deep passes that could have put Philadelphia over the top. The worst came with the game tied in the fourth quarter, when Foles simply threw wide of an open Riley Cooper on what could have been a touchdown play...

He didn't turn it over, but Foles should have been intercepted when he threw one right into McCray's hands late in the fourth quarter. On that play, Foles looked like a rookie again, staring down one receiver from start to finish and failing to notice McCray coming underneath...

Brown the bad

This can be fixed, but it is still quite concerning that Brown has put the ball on the ground three times in two starts. He doesn't protect the football well and is careless while possessing it. I saw too many moments where it was exposed like this Sunday night...

That would cost him huge on a back-breaking fourth-quarter fumble...

The difference between Foles' situation and Brown's is that the Eagles are quite sure they already have a stud running back but could use another, while the quarterback job is completely open as the offseason nears. Best-case scenario for Foles, he's the starter. Worst-case, he's the No. 2. Best-case for Brown, he splits carries. Worst-case, he goes back to being a No. 2. 

They've helped each other at lot, though, and have each earned this opportunity. Both are progressing and both have fixable flaws. Expect both to be part of the equation next season. How large their roles will be is related heavily to what happens over the next four weeks.