Let's get the particulars out of the way early, shall we? Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles played exceptional football yesterday in a thrilling 23-21 victory over a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad fighting for a playoff berth. Foles was 32-51 for 381 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, a real-time, slow-motion rushing touchdown and zero turnovers.
Oh, and he also happened to lead a game-winning drive in the closing minutes, throwing the winning touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin on the final play of the game. No two ways about it, Nick Foles put on one of the most impressive performances by an Eagles quarterback since Mike Vick's video-game explosion against the Washington Redskins in 2010.
Naturally, in a season where finding any sort of silver lining has been nearly impossible, people are grasping on to Foles' performance, with the rhetoric flowing all over the damn place.
I get it. I really do. The Eagles have been so dismal and searching for something, anything to be positive about. Nick Foles has provided that with his play so far in his rookie season, and he's certainly looked more polished and competent running the offense behind a revamped line than Michael Vick did this season.
But good lord, has the freight train of optimism been out of control. I don't mind the excitement and the praise so much. Foles has earned that with his play, particularly the last two weeks against the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's the seemingly definitive statements: "cementing his place," "definitive game," etc. Let's not forget we've seen plenty of quarterbacks shine in the short term only to fizzle into obscurity. I'm not saying that Nick Foles will do that, but I'm also not ready to declare him the great white hope either.
The man has started a grand total of four games, taking snaps in five overall after relieving Michael Vick in a home loss to the Cowboys. His record stands at 1-3 following yesterday's victory, playing behind a team that has seen its season spiral out of control. He's thrown four touchdowns while tossing 3 interceptions. And while he most certainly has gotten better with each game, it's relevant to point out that the past two weeks, Foles' best two performances, came against the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Cowboys, while boasting a top 10 pass defense this season, are a dysfunctional team in their own right, while the Bucs are dead last in the league in pass defense. And let's not forget that Foles threw an atrocious pass on that final drive yesterday that should have been intercepted to end the comeback bid.
Don't get me wrong, Foles was really good against the Cowboys and really besides that errant throw tremendous yesterday. He really was. There is reason for optimism and maybe even some hope, but I think it would do us all a little good to give it some perspective. So yes, enjoy yesterday's performance and victory, because while it didn't help their draft position any, it was fun to watch. Andy Reid certainly enjoyed it. (Seriously, I have never seen Andy so happy after a victory, including when the Birds went to the Super Bowl. I guess after all he's gone through this year, he needed that victory.) But let's just enjoy it for what it was: a great performance and exciting victory, but just one impressive performance in an ultimately completely meaningless game, at least for the team.
I hope Nick Foles is the answer under center. I hope he develops into a franchise quarterback and leads the Eagles to prominence. I'm just not ready to say he is and he will. As we like to say at The Sports Fan Journal, it's never a good idea to crown someone too soon.
However, I am going to go ahead and crown this catch by Jason Avant yesterday as the play of the year for the Eagles.
That was insane.