Quarterback Nick Foles’ 2013 season was one for the record books. Under head coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, Foles threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions on his way to an 8-2 record in 10 starts. He completed 64 percent of his passes, averaged 9.1 yards per attempt and posted 2,891 yards to help win an NFC East crown.
The next three years weren’t great. Foles faded out in Philly the next season, and then had stints in St. Louis and Kansas City, where his play was uninspiring.
But now he’s back in the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field, where he first had a taste of NFL dominance. So why are NFL commentators and the general public so down on his chances to win a couple of playoff games, one of which will be against another journeyman who flamed out under Jeff Fisher?
Or, to restate the rhetorical question arbitrarily posed to prop up this column, why can’t Nick Foles be a Super Bowl champion?
Jeff Hostetler has won a Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer has won a Super Bowl. Even Peyton Manning, one of three greatest passers of all-time by nearly any measure, was a fragile shell of his former self barely able to complete a 15-yard pass when his Denver Broncos brought home Super Bowl 50.
Being a great quarterback, or even a good one, is not a perquisite for your team to win a Super Bowl. Dilfer is the name that always comes up in this discussion, and for good reason. He spent most of his career as a backup and stumbled into the Ravens’ starting role midway through the 2000 season as their historically-great defense streamrolled to a championship.
Dilfer finished his career with 113 touchdown passes and 129 interceptions. Making a couple of throws in the playoffs was enough for the title.
Foles’ 2017 Philadelphia Eagles may not be as great as that Baltimore team, but only a few NFL teams deserve to be featured with those Ravens (2013 Seahawks, 1985 Beats) in the conversation for the greatest defense of all time.
The Eagles were very good this season, and not only because of the dominance of starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who was well on his way to the MVP before going down with an ACL tear on Dec. 10.
Philadelphia went 13-3 this season to secure home field advantage in the NFC playoffs, ensuring they would never have to leave the Linc, where they went 7-1 with the only loss coming Week 17 when they rested many of their starters.
Many of their wins were full-fledged beatdowns. Some Philly wins: 34-7, 33-10, 51-23, 37-9 and 31-3. They held opponents to 10 points or less on six separate occasions.
The defense has a pass rush, capable linebackers and a secondary not burned as easily as they have been in the past.
The offense around Foles consists of a strong offensive line, a punishing one-two punch coming from the backfield (Jay Ajayi/LeGarrette Blount), a wide receiver group that can hurt you anywhere on the field and a stellar suite of tight ends.a
The special teams and coaching is good enough, and the Eagles get to play two of the three games necessary to win it all in front of their nutty home fans. One of those wins has been crossed off already.
Yet, the Eagles aren’t getting the respect a 13-win deserves, and it’s all because of Foles. Philadelphia was a home underdog against Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, despite the Falcons spending the entire season alternating between brief spouts of brilliance and depressing mediocrity. One playoff win, over an untested Rams team, helped made Atlanta the favorite in Philly, and the Falcons scored just 10 points in a loss.
Now, Foles won’t win awards for his own performance against those Falcons. He couldn’t get the Eagles into the end zone as Philly posted five field goals for 15 points in total.
Doesn’t matter. That was enough. Foles made the throws he needed to make and didn’t turn the ball over. He can, and will do that again, and that is enough to get the Eagles over the hump and finally alongside the rest of the NFC East as Super Bowl winners.
Tyler Keating is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @tylerskeating.