Does Nick Foles need to take more risks?
In 16 career starts, Nick Foles is 9-7 with 33 TDs and seven interceptions. (AP)
He woke up at 4 a.m. on Sunday. That’s what time he gets up on a normal day for work -- except it wasn’t a normal day, and he didn’t have anywhere to be.
The morning after the Eagles’ season ended with a home playoff loss to the Saints, Nick Foles forced himself to stay in bed for an extra hour. It didn’t do much good. He didn’t fall back to sleep. He still rose before the sun and worked out.
That inability to rest, the almost chemical desire to get up and get to it, certainly served him well this year. Foles had an excellent regular season, completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,891 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. He went 7-3 as a starter and had a 117.9 passer rating (which includes the playoff game).
Those are good numbers -- the kind of numbers that might make an organization giddy with expectation. Another organization, perhaps. Not necessarily this one.
This one prefers a more cautious approach. That is a little -- just a little -- understandable, if only because of Foles’ age and the attendant contract situation. Because the 24-year-old was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft, the Eagles couldn’t rip up his deal and give him a new franchise-worthy contract even if they wanted. (The collective bargaining agreement stipulates that drafted players must perform under their rookie contract through at least three seasons.)
So there’s that. That makes sense. But forget about throwing him a new contract -- couldn’t they just throw him a bone, some public plaudits to gnaw on for a job well done? Alas, around here, no one seems overly anxious to trumpet Foles as the main man -- not even Foles himself.
While the Eagles cleaned out their NovaCare Complex lockers on Monday, there were several attempts to get Foles and others to declare him the quarterback of the future. The replies were comical.
When asked whether he was given any assurances that the job is his moving forward, Foles responded with non-sequiturs about how “special” and “neat” it was to see “how a team can grow” and “bond.” He followed that with lots of stuff about “working hard” and “working together.” Golly, is he ever the inoffensive, Leave it to Beaver embodiment of a company quarterback. He should have been drinking a glass of warm whole milk during the press conference.
“You have to be consistent,” Foles said when asked to define the term “franchise quarterback.”
“You can’t always play perfect games, but you have to keep playing well. You see a lot of quarterbacks that get these contracts. If you don’t play well in this league for a certain amount of games, you probably won’t be the starter. I’ve never looked at a label or anything as meaningful.”
That’s fine. It is. Forget the label, then. Is he at least confident that there won’t be any ambiguity about him being the starter come training camp?
“Whatever they decide, I’m going to be for it,” Foles said. “Whatever is best for the Philadelphia Eagles, I’ll always be for that. Whatever they decide, I’ll be right there with them.”
You get the sense that if they decided to yank his teeth out with pliers he wouldn’t say “ouch” unless he got the go-ahead. And even then he might remain silent.
Despite the innocuous prepackaged talking points, Foles will be the starting quarterback next season. He has to be -- even though he and the Eagles seem to enjoy the charade. And why not? Games are fun, particularly when you can play them with the no-good media.
During his season-ending press conference, Kelly said he had “no idea” when asked what a franchise quarterback is. The question was a little silly, and it was sloppily posed, so the inquisitor rephrased. Kelly didn’t budge.
“I don't pay attention to that,” Kelly said. “I said it before, if the Eagles are a franchise, which we are, then Nick is our quarterback. There's no tags to it. That doesn't make sense to me, and I don't pay attention to it.”
OK. Let’s distill this to its essence. Let’s make this super simple so everyone understands. As Kelly builds the roster this offseason, is he planning to have Foles as the starting quarterback?
“Yeah,” Kelly replied.
Just to make sure -- just to really underscore the point that no one wants to put in capital letters or outline in bold -- Foles is the guy?
“Yeah,” Kelly said once more.
See? Was that so hard? Actually, it kind of was -- even though it didn’t have to be.