Is Foles franchise-quarterback material?
Remove the first Eagles-Cowboys game and Nick Foles would have a passer rating of 126.9, easily the best in NFL history. (USA Today Images)
When he thinks about that offensive clunker earlier this year against Dallas, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur isn’t just haunted by images of Nick Foles’ accuracy problems.
He remembers everything else that contributed to the Eagles managing just three points at home, easily their worst offensive showcase in Chip Kelly’s first season.
“We dropped balls, we weren't on the same page at times with who to block,” Shurmur said. “We threw the ball inaccurately at times. We didn't do a good job coaching and [giving] them the best opportunity to succeed as players. We just weren't very good.”
But everyone knows the veiled terminology behind Shurmur’s “we” remarks. The culprit, for the most part, was Foles. He passed for just 80 yards and completed 11 of 20 passes. He had Jason Avant wide open in the end zone and badly underthrew him.
It was, and still remains, the worst performance of the second-year quarterback’s fledgling career. But neither Shurmur nor Foles is hiding from the reality.
Both said said they’ve watched tape on that game this week in preparation for Sunday’s showdown against Dallas at AT&T Stadium, with the NFC East title hanging in the balance.
“We've watched it,” Shurmur said. “We watch everything about it because there will be some scheme and some components of their defense that remain the same, though things change as the year goes on.”
What’s changed, obviously, is that Foles has since emerged as the NFL’s highest-rated passer and one of the most surprising storylines of the season.
Foles has already cemented his status as the franchise’s quarterback of the present and future and regardless of Sunday’s outcome he’ll finish with one of the greatest statistical seasons ever for an NFL quarterback.
The only demon left to conquer is Dallas, even if Foles and his coaches still can’t pinpoint the reason behind his implosion that day.
“It’s just something in life that if you try to figure it out it will drive you crazy,” Foles said. “It’s easy to say it’s a bad day. If I look into every meaning, every little thing, everything I did, I would be driving myself crazy.
“Everyone wants an answer, but the answer is we had a bad day. Tough games like that, tough things in life like that, it hurts you. It doesn’t feel good. You feel it in your heart. It’s not fun. But you learn how to get better. You overcome obstacles and you grow together as a team and that’s the beauty of it.”
Foles missed the next game to recover from his concussion and started the next week against Oakland, tying an NFL record by tossing seven touchdowns. His legend began with that win. He has since started six more games, won five of them, upped his completion clip to 64 percent and compiled an NFL-best passer rating of 118.8.
Even in his lone loss, a 48-30 defeat to the Vikings, Foles passed for a career-high 428 yards and tossed three touchdowns, good for a 103.5 passer rating.
It now seems as if the Dallas game was more of an anomaly than anything the Cowboys did to rattle him.
“I’m not gonna try to dwell on it and wish I would have thrown a pass then and there,” he said. “I can’t go back in time.”