Nick Foles Facing a Possible 'Turning Point' Game for the Philadelphia Eagles

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Nick Foles Facing a Possible 'Turning Point' Game for the Philadelphia Eagles
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What he can do against the Cowboys may go a long way in determining if Nick Foles is a boom or a bust as a quarterback.

Playing the hated Dallas Cowboys with first place in the NFC East on the line might not be the only thing at stake for the Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles

In 40 years, the Eagles have drafted only five quarterbacks in the third round or higher.

Two (Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb) did quite well for themselves. One (Bobby Hoying) did a lot worse. Another (Kevin Kolb) is leaning toward the path of disappointment.

The jury is still out on the last and most recent one: Foles. And his next start may be the one that dictates his career trajectory.

Each player had a "turning point" game. For Cunningham and McNabb, it was a stepping stone, a glimpse of good things to come. For Hoying and Kolb, it signaled the best they could offer before ultimately disappointing. 

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A second-round pick in 1985, Cunningham spelled veteran Ron Jaworski for his first two seasons in the league, and his NFL career did not begin fortuitously. Even in a part-time, third-down specialist role, he was sacked an astounding 72 times in 1986, although he was behind a historically bad offensive line. 

In the second-to-last game of an up-and-down 1987 season marred by the strike, he threw for 280 yards, scampered for 47 more and tossed three touchdowns en route to a 38-27 victory against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. He carried that gem over to the final week in a win over the Buffalo Bills, finishing the season 7-5 as a starter. 

The following year, he led the Birds back to the postseason after an eight-year drought and established himself among the NFL's elite. He also brought about a new age of mobile quarterbacks, who have become the norm today. 

After a couple years of Rodney Peete bridging the post-Cunningham gap, Philly hoped that selecting Hoying in the third round in 1996 would signal the beginning of the next era in Eagles football. And in his third career start in 1997, fans began to salivate, as he put up 313 yards in the air, another 62 on the ground and four touchdowns to boot in a thrilling 44-42 win against the Cincinnati Bengals

Unfortunately, it would never get better than that. He went on to lose nine of his next 10 starts carrying over into the following season. He would subsequently toil in obscurity for the Oakland Raiders for two years before being out of the league for good by 2000. 

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Expectations were obviously much higher for McNabb, who was the second overall pick in 1999. And he didn't have to wait long to be thrown to the wolves, seeing action in 11 games and starting the final six as a rookie. 

But it wasn't until the following season—when he began to learn how to manage a game as opposed to taking it over—that No. 5 found his groove.

In Week 4, in a 21-7 route at the New Orleans Saints, McNabb went a tidy 20-of-32 for 222 yards, two TDs and a 103.9 QB rating. The Eagles won nine of their final 12 contests to finish 11-5, triggering the most successful decade of football in franchise history. 

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His heir apparent, Kolb, had to be far more patient before getting his chance. Taken with the Eagles' first pick in the second round in 2007, he didn't get a start until his third year in 2009. Although he threw for an impressive 391 yards in a loss to the Saints, he also threw three interceptions. The following week, however, he tossed for 327 more, hitting on 24 of 34 passes and delivering two scores in the air and another on the ground. 

It could have been a sign of things to come. But the bye week came next, which was followed by the return of McNabb behind center for the rest of the season. Kolb didn't see another snap until 2010, when he showed more glimpses of intermittent success when not getting banged up. This disturbing trend carried over to his time with the Arizona Cardinals before leading to his latest, career-threatening injury in the preseason with the Buffalo Bills.

Fast forward to present day, and we have Foles, the third-round pick from the 2012 draft. He has two wins as a starter thus far—both gems against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The latest earned him Player of the Week honors.

So will the next game go a long way in determining if Foles will be destined for greatness a la Cunningham and McNabb or destined for disappointment like Hoying and Kolb? 

We may soon find out.

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