Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: It's Nick Foles' World; We're Just Living in It

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2019

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
David Banks/Associated Press

Nick Foles may soon become the NFL's most wanted man, Tom Brady may soon wish he never met the Chargers, and Josh McDaniels may already have his next job lined up. All that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.


1. Oh, what a time to be alive, Nick Foles

Whenever the Eagles' season ends—and the way quarterback Nick Foles is playing it might not end anytime soon—look for the Eagles' current starting QB to be one of the most pursued players of all time.

You read that correctly. Several team officials from both conferences think it will be a free-for-all for Foles if the Eagles decide to part with him, and most think the team will do just that despite Foles' remarkable postseason success.

One AFC East team executive said he believes there will be an almost "Reggie White-like pursuit" of Foles by teams desperate for a franchise thrower. White, who left the Eagles for the Packers in 1993, is considered the highest-profile free-agent signing of all time.

Technically, Foles has an option to stay with the Eagles, but considering that option would cost Philly $20 million next season, speculation has arisen that the team will not pick up the deal, according to a report by the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport in December.

"There are a lot of teams that will shoot their shot at Foles," one NFC West scout said, "and [should Philly keep him] will be willing to part with substantial draft picks to do it."

There is already rampant speculation about where Foles will end up. One scout believes Raiders coach Jon Gruden will use some of the booty from the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades (two first-rounders for Mack and one for Cooper) to make the Eagles an offer they can't refuse.

And to think that all of this fevered speculation is for a guy who was once benched for Case Keenum while with the Rams and was a backup in Kansas City.

To be honest, Folesmania isn't solely about Foles himself. It's also about a belief teams have that there will be slim quarterback pickings in free agency and the draft. A number of teams need, or will need, quarterbacks and aren't convinced this draft or free agency will have anyone close to the quality of Foles. The Dolphins, Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Giants and Washington are among those believed to be looking for quarterbacks, in addition to perhaps a few surprise teams.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 23:  (L-R) Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles and teammate quarterback Nick Foles #9 look on during warm ups before taking on the Indianapolis Colts at Lincoln Financial Field on September 23, 2018 in Phil
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There is one concern some teams have when it comes to Foles, however. How will he play outside of the comfortable cocoon the Eagles provide? How much of the Eagles' success is Foles, and how much is it about his rapport with coach Doug Pederson?

Both the Eagles and Foles have options. The Eagles could keep Foles, but it seems a stretch that Philadelphia would keep Carson Wentz, who is still on his rookie deal, and a $20 million backup on the bench.

The Eagles could also franchise Foles, decline to match another team's offer and then get two first-round picks in return.

Whatever happens, the story of where Foles ends up will likely be one of the biggest of the offseason, and, with each playoff win he engineers, it could be one of the great circuses in NFL history.


2. Philly special

Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is one of the most underrated players of his generation. While he had faults, he was, nonetheless, damn good. So, to me, when a player enters McNabb's universe, it says a lot of good about that player.

Like Foles.

The Philly QB has thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight playoff games, which is tied with McNabb (Jan. 16-Feb. 6, 2005) for the longest streak in Eagles postseason history, according to the team. Overall, Foles has recorded at least two passing touchdowns in four of his five career playoff games. And that's nothing to underrate.


3. Tate is golden

Midfield Media @midfieldmedia

Great catch by Golden Tate 🔥 https://t.co/q1J0bun43T

One last thing on the Eagles. Receiver Golden Tate, for years, has been a revered talent among a lot of coaches and personnel people in football. They've long believed that if Tate had been playing for some other team than the Lions, he'd be more appreciated for the player he is.

Traded to the Eagles this season, he started slowly in Philadelphia. Now, however, it's becoming blatantly apparent what all of those scouts and coaches meant. He's talented, tough and makes tough catches. His reception across the middle in the second quarter against the Bears on Sunday, on which he took a massive shot while knowing he would take it and still held onto the ball, is typical Tate. He also caught the game-winning score.

"That's just who he is," said Pederson this week, according to a team transcript. "He has that running-back mentality. Again, strong at the ball. Strong at the point. And quite frankly, the first guy normally doesn't bring him down, and that was a sweet catch. Obviously, a big play in the game, as, of course, the last one. But ... that's what we expected out of him and we have to do more of that."

Don't be surprised if he does "more of that" in the divisional round against the Saints.


4. A football life

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

A tough Wild Card Weekend loss to Dallas amid massive changes in the locker room this season might be enough for any veteran to feel a little salty. But not receiver Doug Baldwin, who put the season in a perspective we don't often see in a league that sometimes doesn't care about how players grow as human beings:

"Look out," Baldwin told reporters (per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio) after Seattle's 24-22 loss Saturday when asked about the Seahawks' future. "This team, we have everything we need. You have all the pieces. You have all the right mindsets, personalities, everything. It's just we're a young team. With the time comes progression, comes growth, comes learning. This team will be better."

"I think the best thing we will do from this point on moving forward is that we will take these lessons and learn from them and grow and be better, not only as football players, but as men. That is vastly more important. Yes, it's sad the way it ended, but this is not the end of the world. There are some phenomenal individuals in this locker room; phenomenal football players."

Then, when asked what was the main point of his message to the team after the game, Baldwin added: "The sentiment of the message was cherish these moments. Learn from it. Don't let this loss be in vain. If you do the honest reflection in the mirror and you ask yourself the tough questions and seek the right answers, no loss is ever really a loss. You still win if you learn. You may not be victorious, but you still win. That message was not just for football, it was for human beings, for the life they lead off the field as well. We're called to be great football players, but more importantly, we're called to be better men."


5. Immovable object, meet irresistible force

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Tom Brady is 7-0 against Philip Rivers (including playoffs). That is the third-best head-to-head quarterback matchup record in the Super Bowl era.

The Chargers this year are 9-0 outside of Los Angeles (including a game in London).

So something has to give in this weekend's divisional round game between the Chargers and Patriots. It's either Brady's dominance over Rivers or the Chargers' excellence on the road.

This game, to me, is one of the most difficult to forecast. The Chargers are excellent at bringing pressure with just their front four and are particularly good at pushing the rush up the middle. That kind of defense bothers all quarterbacks, but it really bothers Brady.

Still, the Patriots haven't lost a playoff game at home since 2013 in the AFC title game.

It should be fascinating to watch.


6. Luck's got everything to do with it

Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

It's difficult to put into words how many people in football are stunned at how well Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is playing.

It's not that they didn't know he is a terrific player, but more than a few people I've spoken to across the league (including players, coaches and team management) over the past several years strongly believed Luck would never play again. Or, if he did, he'd be a shell of himself.

Finally free of the shoulder problems of the past few seasons, Luck is back to being the kind of difference-making player many thought he'd never be again.


7. The good news keeps coming for the NFL

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Fans tailgate prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There was a time, not long ago, when people like me (and others) wondered if the number of controversies swirling around the NFL—the concern about CTE, the over-saturation of games, among others—would seriously damage the league.

But the NFL keeps prospering. The Eagles-Bears Wild Card Game drew a total audience delivery of 36.4 million people across television and digital, according to The Athletic's sports media writer Richard Deitsch. It was the most-watched TV show since the last Super Bowl.

From 7:45 to 7:54 ET, the game had 45.1 million viewers. That's a remarkable number.

The boost can be traced, in part, to the rise of a number of young stars like Patrick Mahomes, as well as continuing excellence of veterans like Russell Wilson. It hasn't hurt, either, that the Thursday night matchups, and a lot more, have been entertaining as hell.

As long as those things continue, people will keep watching.


8. No thanks

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide is escorted off the field after his teams 44-16 loss to the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Cl
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

What I know for certain is that before Alabama played in the CFP National Championship Game on Monday night, teams had inquired if coach Nick Saban was interested in returning to the NFL. They were told no. Not now. Not ever.

Could that change after Alabama got blown out, a defeat so stunning it had ties back to Saban's NFL days? It's possible, but don't count on it.


9. Will he or won't he?

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Floated as a potential head coach candidate again in recent weeks, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told the NFL Network's Mike Giardi that he would be staying with New England.

So will McDaniels, despite seemingly being a candidate for multiple jobs each offseason, ever leave the Pats? The short answer is probably not. Why? Simple. He knows he's likely to be the next coach of the Patriots.

At least, that's the feeling a lot of teams have. Nothing is etched in stone, but these teams think that unless the perfect job comes along, he'll stay by Bill Belichick's side.

It's smart by McDaniels. The Patriots are one of the smoothest-run and professional organizations in sports. It should take a lot for him to leave.


10. The future is bright in Chicago

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

It's no secret Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky played well this season, or at least well enough to help guide the Bears to a 12-4 record and a division crown. But you may not know he put up one of the best seasons at the position in franchise history. As the Elias Sports Bureau writes:

Elias Sports Bureau @EliasSports

Mitchell Trubisky passed for 3223 yards and 24 TDs this year. Each set a record for a Bears player in his 1st or 2nd season in the @NFL, breaking marks that had stood for 69 years. The previous highs were set by Johnny Lujack in 1949. @ChicagoBears host @Eagles now on @NBCSports

The loss to the Eagles was gut-wrenching, but clearly, with Trubisky, the Bears have a promising future.


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter:@mikefreemanNFL