I was 11 when Tom Brady burst onto the scene, taking a fairly unknown and unexciting Patriots squad to an extremely unexpected Super Bowl championship in 2001. With the defending conference champion Ravens and Giants, the Kurt Warner-led Rams, the extremely well-balanced Raiders and a Colts team led by the up-and-coming Peyton Manning being the talk of the NFL world going into that season, little was thought of the boring New England team. But when a young, previously irrelevant quarterback took the reins and turned a laughable dream into reality, New England Patriots fans were very happy.
At least I would think they were. After all, this kid came in with no expectations and not only breathed life into a franchise that desperately needed it, but gave them incredible stability at the most important position in sports. I mean, logically, that should make a fanbase happy, right?
I can’t say for sure because I am from Philadelphia, the one corner of the earth where logic flies out the window more quickly than the scents of gravy and meatballs you take in walking down our city’s streets on Sunday. The general manager of our baseball team is dying for a right-handed power bat in the lineup, yet insists on benching the best prospect in our system, a promising right-hander with power. This is the kind of “logic” that Philadelphia sports fans have to put up with.
So perhaps it isn’t a surprise that a lot of Philadelphia fans (and coaches) simply cannot accept the fact that the Eagles have fallen ass-backwards into having the best quarterback in the NFL.
Nick Foles is completing 63.3 percent of his passes, gaining 9.1 yards per attempt and has lobbed 19 touchdown passes to an unbelievable zero interceptions. While this has earned him a 125.2 passer rating and a 6-1 record in games where he has played a significant part, it oddly has NOT yet earned him the trust of Eagles brass and fans.
Before I go on, I will acknowledge something. I understand that regression toward the mean is inevitable. Foles is going to throw an interception at some point this season. His passer rating and yards per attempt will come down to earth. And, as heartbreaking as this is, so will his win-loss record. Philadelphia fans and coaches know and acknowledge this, too.
But here is my bone of contention: is this the only thing they have to acknowledge?
Sportswriters and sports radio callers want to talk about Foles’ “luck.” When I logged onto Bleacher Report tonight, the featured article on the Eagles page was about how Foles has been far from perfect during his seemingly perfect stretch.
We get it. Generally speaking, the ball has bounced Foles’ way. He made a horrible throw at the end of the Arizona game that should have been a game-losing interception. But you know what? Jeff Garcia made a PERFECT throw at the end of the 2006 divisional playoff game in New Orleans that should have extended the game. Instead, it was called back for a penalty, and Andy Reid decided to punt the ball back to Drew Brees. Now, the Eagles are even.
Foles has also been criticized for having an “easy schedule,” a trope that has always annoyed me in the NFL. Pessimists are dying to point out that he collected wins against the Giants, Bucs, Raiders, Redskins, and the Rodgers-less Packers, all of whom have losing records. The same geniuses who point this out fail to realize that two of these clubs wouldn’t have losing records if the Foles-led Eagles hadn’t beaten them.
Has Nick Foles had some favorable bounces in 2013? Yes.
Should a couple of his poorly thrown passes been intercepted? Certainly.
But could a QB season of this caliber be put together simply by luck? I highly doubt it.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the luck factor. We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize that Foles will eventually and inevitably regress. But maybe, just maybe, we could admit to the fact that he is the second-best quarterback to come out of a 2012 draft that included four first-round picks at the QB position.
And maybe we could finally admit that the Eagles got a gift-wrapped franchise quarterback, giving them freedom to address other positions in the 2014 draft.
Now that is what I call luck.