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?

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies are still looking for the real Aaron Nola, but they may have found a useful bat Thursday night.

Aaron Altherr had the kind of season debut he’d dreamed about for the four months he was on the disabled list as he helped the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).

Altherr was one of three Phillies to hit home runs on a night when the offense awakened after generating just one run the previous two days in Miami. Altherr, who came off the disabled list earlier in the day after missing four months with a wrist injury that required surgery (see story), drove a two-run homer to left in the fifth inning. Earlier in the game, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph had back-to-back homers to headline a five-run first inning.

Franco leads the team with 19 homers and Joseph, hitting .375 with six homers in his last 17 games, has 14 in just 57 games with the club.

Altherr, who batted fifth behind Franco and Joseph, also had two hard singles in the game.

“He had a really good night in his debut,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He provided a spark for us. He added to the offense. So I'm happy for that. It's good to get a win. We scored some runs, finally.”

Altherr was projected to be a starter in the Phillies’ opening day outfield until he suffered the wrist injury in spring training. He spent the last four months in Clearwater, rehabbing and, well, dreaming of a night like this.

“Definitely, especially sitting around thinking about how that first game's going to be being back,” he said. “For it to be like this, it was definitely special and I have to thank the Lord above for getting me back here as fast as He could.

“I was hoping to get a home run in the first game, but I definitely wasn't expecting it. Just hopeful. To have it happen like that was definitely awesome.

“It definitely surprised me a little bit because I hadn't really been driving the ball like I had wanted to down in my rehab stints. I'm just glad to know I've got [the power] in there somewhere.”

The Phillies hit all three of their home runs and scored all their runs against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler. He received a ticket to Triple A after the game.

The Phillies batted around against Wisler and scored five runs in the first inning. That was a welcome cushion for Nola, who desperately needed a win after failing to get one in his previous seven starts. The right-hander did manage to earn his first win since June 5, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. He lasted just five innings and threw a whopping 95 pitches as he continued to experience command issues that have been plaguing him in recent weeks.

Nola gave up eight hits and three runs. He walked three and hit a batter. That’s not Aaron Nola’s game. At least it wasn’t in his first 12 starts this season. He recorded a 2.65 ERA over that span and walked just 15 while striking out 85. He has walked 14 in his last eight starts.

“He's not the same guy,” Mackanin said. “He's just struggling with command once again. He's not dotting his fastball like he normally does. His curveball is erratic. He needs to get back on track.

“Sometimes it's harder to pitch when you have a big lead. You know you don't want to blow it. That can affect a pitcher as well. You have to have that mental toughness either way, whether it's a one-run game or an 8-0 game. You don't want to pitch poorly. There's a tendency, well, you have a five-run lead, should I throw more fastballs and challenge? But it was good to see he got a win. I'm happy for that. That should help him. He just needs to get to where he was. He's not there yet.”

Nola described his outing as “fairly OK,” which was probably right on. He got the win, but overall was not sharp. He allowed three runs in the fifth inning.

“I ran into some jams there,” he said. “I left some balls over the plate for them to hit. They took them the other way. The plan was to try to hit the outside part of the plate and they took it away.

“I feel like I have the command for the most part, but there’s some areas I still need to get better at and work to get better at.”

The Phillies used four relievers to close out the game. Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris pitched well. David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez did not. Gomez allowed three base runners and a run, but still managed to get the save. Hernandez allowed a hit and a pair of two-out walks before giving up an RBI double. A number of scouts from teams looking for bullpen help were on hand. Hernandez and Gomez probably did not help their trade value. Four days before the deadline, starter Jeremy Hellickson is still the Phillie most likely to be dealt.

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale returned from his jersey-trashing suspension and threw six effective innings, but John Lackey outpitched him and Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs to save the Cubs' 3-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago's rivalry series Thursday night.

Sale (14-4) was greeted with smiles and hugs from his teammates following a five-day ban for tearing up 1976-style uniforms he didn't want to wear before his previous scheduled start. He had command issues, but worked out of trouble while allowing two runs and six hits.

Lackey (8-7) allowed one run in six innings for his first win since June 8. Chapman, in his second appearance since being acquired from the Yankees, struck out two and consistently hit 102 mph in his first save for his new team.

Kris Bryant, who homered against Sale in the All-Star Game, hit an RBI double off the center field wall in the first inning (see full recap). 

Diaz's homer helps Cardinals beat Marlins and Fernandez, 5-4
MIAMI -- Aledmys Diaz homered, doubled and drove in three runs against childhood pal Jose Fernandez, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 Thursday.

Fernandez gave up five runs in five innings and fell to 26-2 at Marlins Park.

Miami's Dee Gordon, the 2015 NL batting and stolen bases champion, returned from an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test and went 0 for 4. Ichiro Suzuki doubled as a pinch hitter in the seventh for Miami and needs two hits for 3,000.

Diaz and Matt Holliday homered in the third inning against Fernandez (12-5), who had never previously given up more than one homer in a home game. His only other loss at Marlins Park came on opening day this year against Detroit.

Michael Wacha (6-7) allowed three runs in six innings, and three relievers completed an eight-hitter. Seung Hwan Oh pitched around a one-out single in the ninth for his seventh save (see full recap). 

Familia falters again, Rockies rally for 2-1 win over Mets
NEW YORK -- Mets steady closer Jeurys Familia stumbled for a second straight game, allowing two runs in the ninth inning as the Colorado Rockies beat New York 2-1 Thursday for their seventh win in eight games.

Less than 24 hours after Familia's streak of 52 consecutive regular-season saves was snapped, the right-hander entered in the top of the ninth with a 1-0 lead, and couldn't hold it.

Trevor Story had a leadoff single and stole second. After fellow rookie David Dahl walked, Daniel Descalso bunted up the first base line. Mets catcher Rene Rivera watched as the ball spun toward foul territory but it stopped fair, loading the bases with no out.

With one out, Familia (2-3) got pinch-hitter Cristhian Adames to hit a slow grounder to the right side. First baseman James Loney booted the ball and Story scored to make it 1-all. Familia then threw a wild pitch, allowing Dahl to cross the plate with the go-ahead run (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Phillies 7, Braves 5

Instant Replay: Phillies 7, Braves 5

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Aaron Nola picked up his first win since June 5 as the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, at Turner Field on Thursday night.

Nola was supported by some strong offense. After scoring just one run in losing the previous two games in Miami, the Phils erupted for five runs in the first inning. They hit three homers in the game.

The Phillies had been winless in Nola’s previous seven starts.

The Phillies are 47-57.

The Braves have the worst record in the majors at 35-67.

Starting pitching report
Despite leaving with a 7-3 lead after five innings, Nola was not particularly sharp. He gave up eight hits (one was a fly ball that was lost in the twilight sky), walked three and hit a batter. He needed 95 pitches to get through the five innings.

Nola is 6-9 with a 4.78 ERA in 20 starts.

Atlanta’s Matt Wisler gave up seven hits and seven runs in five innings. Five of the runs came in the first inning when the Phillies batted around. Wisler allowed two homers, two singles and walked two in the inning.

Bullpen report
David Hernandez was the first Phillies reliever out of the bullpen. He struggled. But Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez combined to close it out.

Gomez allowed two hits, a walk and a run in the ninth, but earned his 27th save.

At the plate
Aaron Altherr, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day (see story), had a big night in his first game of the season with the big club. He hit the ball hard all night and had three hits, including a two-run homer in the fifth.

Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph hit back-to-back homers in the first inning. Franco’s was a three-run shot. He leads the club with 19 homers. Joseph has 14 homers in 57 games.

Adonis Garcia had two hits and two RBIs for the Braves.

Transaction 
Peter Bourjos was placed on the disabled list and Altherr was activated (see story).

Up next
The series continues Friday night. Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.34) pitches against Atlanta right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (0-2, 6.17).