Following Nick Foles’ awful outing against the Dallas Cowboys, no one could have expected what ensued the following week.
But Foles did the impossible, etching his name into the record book with a record-tying seven-touchdown performance. Remarkably, he did so with four minutes still remaining in the third quarter, becoming the first player to pull off the achievement in three quarters of action.
Foles set all kinds of records along the way, posting the highest passer rating ever by the select seven-touchdown club. He threw more touchdowns than incompletions, reaching the 400-yard plateau as well.
So does this mean Foles is the quarterback of the future for the Philadelphia Eagles?
That’s the burning question on the minds of Eagles fans. Chip Kelly still hasn’t even endorsed Foles as his starter for the remainder of the year, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Foles doesn’t start the rest of the season (barring injury). Even the harshest Foles critics can’t possibly expect the 33-year-old Michael Vick to be the best man to play QB in 2014, and Matt Barkley has done nothing in limited opportunities.
That means it’s Foles’ job to lose.
He’s certainly doing his job as of late. Foles sits at 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions for the season. Over his last nine contests, Foles has tossed 18 scores to just two picks. He has completed 62.7 percent of his passes and his 8.7 yards per attempt is third-best in the league. And he’s done this without Jeremy Maclin, his No. 2 receiver, who has missed the entire season with a torn ACL.
Foles lacks the prototypical skills of what one would expect from a Chip Kelly quarterback. He doesn’t possess elite arm strength and he’s immobile as a runner. What Foles can do is read a defense exceptionally well, stand in against pressure and throw a better-than-advertised deep ball.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Foles has been accurate on over 67 percent of his passes when pressured. That’s the fifth-highest accuracy rate in the league, and best of all, Foles hasn’t thrown an interception. He’s extremely efficient on the deep passes, as he’s a ridiculous 10-of-19 for 348 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Only one quarterback (Drew Brees) has more touchdowns on deep balls, and Brees has thrown his nine on over twice as many passing attempts.
If Foles continues that kind of play, Kelly would have to strongly consider Foles as his future signal-caller. The skill set isn’t ideal, but there comes a point when the numbers speak for themselves.
The trick for Foles will be consistency. His dud against Dallas really hurt his chances, and if he lays another egg against Green Bay, he may look more like the next Kevin Kolb: A highly inconsistent passer with extreme highs and lows.
Foles has a chance to lead the Eagles to the playoffs, seeing as they’re just a game back of the Cowboys in the division race. The Eagles do get a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Clay Matthews. That’s a game Foles really needs to win and play well during it.
If Foles can finish the season playing at a consistently high level, Kelly will probably go with him. Marcus Mariota of Oregon should go in the top five picks, and Philly won’t be in position to draft him. But that does mean the Eagles can grab a high-profile defensive player for coordinator Billy Davis, one that makes the ’14 Eagles a better threat to win the division crown.