Nick Foles cannot be trusted. He is a young quarterback with a reliable arm and a level head, but he is also prone to losing track of both at inopportune times. That’s why his split personality is polarizing Eagles fans right now.
Against a putrid Jacksonville team Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Foles engineered a spectacular comeback in a bizarre 34-17 victory. Unfortunately, he had to do so because of a ghastly first half in which he fumbled twice and threw a mind-boggling interception.
Is Foles the clutch performer who launched a game-winning bomb to Jeremy Maclin, or the stage-struck novice who unleashed a wounded quail in the end zone to Jacksonville’s Alan Ball? For that matter, is Foles one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NFL history, or is he just lucky to be running coach Chip Kelly’s unstoppable offense?
It is no small issue that Foles, in his third NFL season, continues to inspire so many mixed feelings. When he is good – as evidenced by his historic quarterback rating of 119 last season – he is very good. But when he is bad, he looks like Bobby Hoying, Kevin Kolb and every other Eagles quarterback bust of the past generation.
In the first half Sunday, Foles was not just ineffective; he looked scared. The tape doesn’t lie. On play after play, he double-clutched, waiting so long for a receiver to break totally free, he was swallowed by the pass rush. On a team that demands quick and smart decisions from its quarterback, it got neither early in the game from Foles.
When I asked Kelly yesterday on my WIP radio show about Foles’ performance, the coach didn’t hide the truth. There were open receivers. There was enough time to throw. The same play-calls that worked so well in the second half were there earlier in the game. The only difference was Foles.
Ultimately, there was much to be encouraged by in the Eagles’ opening-season win. The defense is indeed improved over last year’s overmatched unit. New kicker Cody Parkey is a revelation so far, both in field goals and on kickoffs. Darren Sproules is a weapon ideally suited to Kelly’s versatile offense. A Super-Bowl run seems plausible.
Or does it? Foles is the X factor here, and there is still no way to state with conviction who he is or what he will become. He was amazing last year against the Raiders, but awful versus the Cowboys. He was surprisingly elusive in the pocket at times, and a statue at other times. He made great decision after great decision, until experiencing brain-lock.
When Chip Kelly arrived here from Oregon, he said his system doesn’t require a quarterback with quick feet or a rifle arm. He just needs a composed leader executing the plan efficiently. Is Foles that person? After Sunday’s first half, is anybody really be sure?
And that’s why Nick Foles cannot be trusted. At least not yet.