How many and which NFL starting QBs would you take over Foles right now?

How many and which NFL starting QBs would you take over Foles right now?

A few days back, a long-time reader posed an interesting question on Twitter. To summarize, how many NFL quarterbacks would you rather have over Nick Foles right now? Seems like an appropriate question now that he’s officially been named the Eagles’ starter.

It’s difficult to answer, too. Foles still only has 11 starts under his belt, which amounts to less than a season’s worth. He’s playing lights-out football right now, yet he’s little more than a month removed from a putrid performance against Dallas. In short, Foles hasn’t quite cemented his status as a franchise quarterback, or in many eyes, even a very good player.

Plus, it’s all about perspective. Are we talking to win one game, or to build a franchise around? Are the players all under their current contracts? Suddenly, a lot more factors such as age and experience start coming into play when it’s not simply a matter of “Is A better than B?”

There’s no wrong way to answer though since it is a hypothetical, but I thought I’d give it a shot, and it became an interesting little exercise. To begin with, let’s automatically assume the following is presently true:

Most people would take Nick Foles over: Geno Smith, QB Browns, Case Keenum, Chad Henne, Jake Locker, Matt McGloin, Christian Ponder, Mike Glennon, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford.

Most people would not keep Nick Foles over: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Drew Brees.

That’s a little more than half the league’s quarterbacks down. Let’s take a closer look at the rest.

Nick Foles or E.J. Manuel?

There were rumors floating around last April that Chip Kelly might be interested in Manuel in the second round, but Buffalo snagged the Florida St. product in the first. He’s shown some promise for a rookie on a bad team, but accuracy is a concern, so defenses just limit his ability to run. Hell, Foles has more rushing yards this season, and he’s much further along in his development as a passer.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill?

Not much of a decision really. Tannehill has more than twice as many NFL starts under his belt, and looks pedestrian by comparison.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Joe Flacco?

Reigning world champion, Joe Flacco? This hasn’t been Flacco’s best season, yet he’s guided the Ravens to the playoffs and won at least one game every year since he entered the league in 2008. That streak is in jeopardy, but he’s already wearing a Super Bowl ring. No-brainer.

Pick: Flacco

Nick Foles or Andy Dalton?

Dalton doesn’t do anything especially well. He’s not the most accurate, he’s not the most prolific, he doesn’t have the biggest arm, he doesn’t possess above average size or athleticism for the position, he doesn't win the most and he makes too many mistakes. You could do worse for an NFL starter, but I’d take my chances on Foles doing something special at this point.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Ben Roethlisberger?

There were some rumblings out of Pittsburgh that Big Ben, one of the most criminally underrated signal callers in the game, may seek a trade in the offseason. The line of suitors would be long if that ever came to pass. Roethlisberger continues to post excellent numbers year after year, he’ll only turn 32 next year, and he already has two rings.

Pick: Roethlisberger

Nick Foles or Andrew Luck?

Luck’s numbers aren’t the most impressive, but he had the Colts looking like a legit Super Bowl contender until the injuries began piling up. He’s done a lot already considering the state Peyton Manning left that franchise in. Plus, how many so-called “once-in-a-generation” prospects come around?

Pick: Luck

Nick Foles or Alex Smith?

It doesn’t matter what Smith’s record is the past three seasons, he’s not good enough to win the big one. Andy Reid attached himself to the wrong QB this time.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Philip Rivers?

A lot of people left Rivers for dead after a couple of crummy seasons, but he’s really turned it around this season. Tough call here. He’ll be 32 and he doesn’t have a great track record in the playoffs. I believe if you put him in the right situation though, he’s as good as almost anybody else out there. If it were a Super Bowl-or-bust season, give me Rivers.

Pick: Rivers

Nick Foles or Tony Romo?

This might not be much of a decision at all anywhere outside of Philly. Yes, Romo has the well-deserved reputation as a choke artist, but his numbers continue to be unreal. Foles has to prove he’s better.

Pick: Romo

Nick Foles or Eli Manning?

Normally you would give extra weight to a guy who’s won two championships already, but Eli is so frustratingly inconsistent. He turns 33 in January, so it’s possible he’s going to into steep decline. He’s not at sharp as his brother, so he probably won’t be able to play forever. This might be selling Eli short, but his regression is a major concern.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Robert Griffin III?

Call me crazy, but I’d still take RG3 over Foles if the decision had to be made today. Yes, Griffin is having an abysmal season, but how much of that stems from the torn ACL he suffered back in January? How vital for his development were all the missed practices and preseason games leading up to this season? How bad of a head coach is Mike Shanahan?

It’s entirely possible that even if Griffin was going to be a good NFL starter, Washington has already ruined him. The guy went No. 2 overall in the draft for a reason though. He has the tools. I’m not giving up on him yet.

Pick: Griffin

Nick Foles or Jay Cutler?

Part of me still sees a ton of upside in Cutler. Then you look at his age (31 next season), he already can’t stay healthy, the fact that he has just one playoff win, has never posted a passer rating in the 90s… looking at all of this more closely actually changed the opinion I held going in.

Pick: Foles

Nick Foles or Colin Kaepernick?

Tough decision. Not unlike Foles, we don’t really know who Kaepernick is yet either. He’s nowhere near as sharp as he was a season ago, but the 49ers don’t have much in the way of weapons. Kaepernick certainly possesses the superior skill set. I must be running out of steam, because I'm just going to call it a push for now.

Pick: Undecided

Nick Foles or Russell Wilson?

Interesting comparison here, as it’s long been rumored it was Wilson and not Foles who the Eagles were after in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Wilson is a competent quarterback who rarely makes mistakes, but with a strong running game and suffocating defense, the Seahawks don’t ask him to carry the team too often. As such, his numbers are quality, but not prolific. My personal opinion is his limitations might begin to shine through after awhile if he was required to do more on a regular basis. Foles fits the prototype of an NFL quarterback better.

Pick: Foles

***

So in all, I was able to come up with 14 quarterbacks I would rather have than Foles right now, 16 , based on no firm criteria at all. In a quarterback-needy lead, middle of the pack seems reasonable to me, but who knows. It's all in good fun.

I’m sure that could change drastically before the season is out, too. Now the question becomes will that number shrink or grow?

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

The Sixers (4-15) continue their homestand against the Boston Celtics (11-8) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night (7:30 p.m./CSN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. A green giant-sized challenge
Just crumple it up and move on.

That's about the only thing the Sixers can do after getting ran out of the gym by the Orlando Magic on Friday. Instead of looking like a team that hadn't played since Monday, the Sixers appeared flat in a 105-88 loss.

Outside of Joel Embiid's first 20-point, 10-rebound game (he had 25 points and 10 boards) and a strong effort from Jahlil Okafor (16 points and 13 rebounds), not much else went right for the Sixers.

Now Embiid will sit the second game of a back-to-back set and Okafor will be thrust into the starting lineup, as the Sixers try to deal with Boston big man Al Horford. 

Horford, the Celtics' prized free-agent acquisition, is coming off his best game so far for his new team. He recorded 26 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the Celtics' 97-92 win over the Kings on Friday.

2. Little big man
Even with Horford coming off a productive performance, the Sixers' game plan against the Celtics has to focus on slowing down Isaiah Thomas.

The 5-foot-9 guard continues to put up big numbers in the scoring department. Despite his shooting percentages taking a dip this season, Thomas still ranks ninth in the NBA with a career-high 25.7 points per game. 

And even though he is a willing passer (averaging a career-high-tying 6.3 assists), expect Thomas to try and score early and often against the Sixers. After all, the reserve-turned-All-Star has put up 21.5 points per game against the Sixers during his career, his highest mark against any opponent.

3. Dial up the long-distance defense
The Sixers need to be aware of Thomas and just about all of his teammates when they toe that three-point line.

The Celtics rank fifth in the league in three-pointers attempted (31.1), three-pointers made (11.3) and eighth in three-point percentage (36.3) per game.

The C's have four players shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc, and perhaps a bit surprising, three of them are big men. Jonas Jerebko (46.4 percent), Horford (42.4 percent) and Amir Johnson (40.0 percent) have all been on target from long range.

4. Injuries
Robert Covington (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are both questionable. Embiid (rest), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

The Celtics have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost five games in a row overall and eight straight to the Celtics.

• The Celtics rank 25th in rebounding with 42.2 a night.

• Dario Saric had two points Friday against the Magic and has failed to reach double digits in scoring five of his last six games.

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Another new feeling for the rebuilding Sixers: The bad loss with no excuse. For at least one and possibly multiple seasons, there was no real such thing as an inexcusable L, because they were so never the favorite going into any game that their excuse could almost always be "the other team was better." But four wins and one transcendent player into this season, the Ballers actually do need an excuse for dropping a home game against a subpar team by double digits. And if they had one last night in their 105-88 loss to the Orlando Magic, they weren't telling the rest of us.

Really, this game couldn't have been teed up much better for Philly: We were home, well-rested after Wednesday's weird-ass cancellation, against a 7-12 team we nearly beat early in the season, who were on the second night of a back-to-back after ceding a tough one to the Grizzlies -- and we had Joel Embiid for up to 28 minutes. If this one was to be a laugher by early in the fourth quarter, you'd almost have to assume that it'd been the Sixers who put it to bed early. 

Instead, the Sixers slumped horribly from the field in the first quarter, missing bunny after bunny and plenty of open jumpers, as they dug themselves a hole they were never quite able to climb out of. Philly kept it manageable and D.J. Augustin and Nik Vucevic caught fire for Orlando in the third quarter, and the game was suddenly in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot territory before we could even process what was happening. 

Of course, you can't blame Embiid for this one. Though JoJo was a little out of sorts defensively on this one -- and personally, I really wish he'd stop trapping five feet outside the arc, it may cause panic in the Magic's ball-handlers but it really seems to compromise our own half-court D -- he still finished with a resounding 25-10-4 with three triples, and for the first time in his young career, 0 turnovers. (I coulda swore I saw at least one, but so says the box score, anyway.) Just another game for the Process, though the Sixers (for some reason) needed him to be immaculate last night, and he was merely phenomenal. 

Less phenomenal were the rest of the Sixers' shooters. Our bench in particular was absolutely putrid, going a combined 0-12 from three, with Nik Stauskas's streak of consecutive games with a three snapped at 15 after his scoreless, 0-6 performance. (Five assists for Sauce, at least.) Jahlil posted a dominant stat line of 16 and 13 (on 8-10 shooting) but was again hapless on defense, ending a team-worst -19 for the night. And Dario Saric's slumping continued with a 1-5 shooting outing with no rebounds or assists, likely his worst game of the season. 

It was a surprisingly listless effort from a team that should have looked much sharper, and the most positive non-Joel-related thing to be said about it is that it's (sort of) nice to finally have expectations high enough to have them let down. It'll be a lot harder for Philly to let down tonight against the Celtics, without JoJo, against a pretty good and mostly healthy Boston team. But that's five losses in a row already for the improving Sixers, and it'd be nice to cut off that streak soon, before it starts threatening double digits -- we could certainly do with being done with those for the forseeable future.