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?

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- A 17-point game came down to the final possessions. 

The Knicks squeaked out a 110-109 victory, holding on to this one after suffering a buzzer-beating loss to the Sixers on Jan. 11. 

The Knicks squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth as the Sixers slowly chipped away at their lead at the line. The Sixers got within one, 106-105, when T.J. McConnell drained a three after a series of Sixers’ free throws. 

Jahlil Okafor scored a go-ahead basket during a hustling Sixers possession with nine seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 109-108 lead. 

In the end, it was Carmelo Anthony, who had been running up the scoreboard all night (37 points), that nailed the game-winning jumper over Robert Covington. Kyle O’Quinn picked off the Sixers' final inbound attempt. 

Inside the box score
• Okafor finished with a season-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. He had eight rebounds in first half, including a coast-to-coast fast break.

• Dario Saric continues his strong Rookie of the Year push. He finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. 

• Robert Covington struggled from the field overall (7 of 19, 2 of 11 from three) but filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

• Anthony did what Anthony does. He scored 37 points on 15 of 25 from the field, including the game-winner.

Anderson debuts
Justin Anderson made his Sixers debut in the first quarter. Anderson is a multi-positional player and the lineup reflected that. He first played with Rodriguez, Stauskas, Covington and Holmes. Anderson played 3:47 and went 0 for 1 from three with a rebound and a foul. 

While Anderson said he had learned about the Sixers by watching his first game from the bench, he will get more on-the-court experience on Sunday when he plans to spend time at the training complex on the team’s off day. 

Bigs Convene
Joel Embiid was with the Sixers in New York. After the second quarter ended, he stayed on the court to talk with Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Both Knicks big men also were sidelined on Saturday.

Trust It
T.J. McConnell isn’t the only one to #trustthefriendship with Saric. Check out this no-look pass to Robert Covington. 

Up next
The Sixers have a day to bounce back from this loss. The 48-9 Warriors come to town on Monday. 

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, PA. – Jay Wright finally admitted what we could all see.

The Wildcats are gassed.

No. 2 Villanova beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, Saturday at the Pavilion to clinch the Big East Conference regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay).

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the conference, but the last couple weeks their lack of depth has shown.

With Omari Spellman ruled ineligible before the season by the NCAA, Phil Booth out since November with lingering knee pain and Darryl Reynolds out the last five games with a rib injury, Wright has essentially been limited to five starters, freshman Dante DiVincenzo off the bench and a few minutes a night from freshman Dylan Painter.

It's taken a significant toll on the six guys in the rotation. 

Big late leads have dwindled or, in the case of Wednesday’s game against Butler, disappeared. Three-pointers have front-rimmed. Defensive assignments have been missed.

Through it all, Wright refused to admit fatigue was an issue.

Now, with the Wildcats securely the top seed in next month’s conference tournament, Wright is being honest about his team.

They’re exhausted.

“I know you guys have asked a lot, 'Do I think we’re getting worn down with seven guys, 6 1/2 guys,' and I said I don’t think so, I think we can do it,” Wright said Saturday after the Senior Day win over Creighton.

“I gotta answer your question, but it just doesn’t do us any good saying we’re worn out. It’s not an excuse. Other teams have things to deal with. I get we weren’t pretty, we haven’t been pretty, today wasn’t pretty. But I think it just speaks to the leadership of these seniors and I think it speaks to the character of these seniors (that they got through it).

“Are they tired? Yeah. Are they worn down some? Yeah. But it doesn’t matter. Other teams got stuff too. It’s not the reason you lose. It can’t be the reason you lose. Maybe you were tired and you didn’t concentrate or we didn’t defend or we didn’t rebound. That’s what happened and that’s the way we look at it.

“I wasn’t trying to BS you, I was just saying that whether you’re tired or not doesn’t matter, you’ve got to get it done, and we got it done. I’m so proud of them and it’s senior leadership. It’s talented players and senior leadership.”

Villanova now has a week off before an essentially meaningless game next Saturday at Georgetown.

It’ll be the Wildcats’ first extended break since the season began.

“They haven’t had an off week because they played Virginia (two weeks ago in a non-conference game), and now they get it and a chance to get their legs back,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.

“It’s a long season and when you don’t really have a chance to catch your breath, especially because he’s riding six or seven guys pretty hard right now? I’m sure this week off will do them some good.”

Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall had a career day Saturday, with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. Josh Hart added 16 points and eight boards, Kris Jenkins overcame another off shooting night from three (1 for 7) to record 15 points, four boards and three assists, and Mikal Bridges had 11 points and eight rebounds. DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson each scored nine points. 

The next meaningful game Villanova plays will be March 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in New York.

Now it’s time to rest. And heal.

“It’s going to be good for us,” Jenkins said. “We get a couple days off. We’ll still watch film, still learn, still get better, but physically we need a couple days to regroup and get ready for Georgetown and then the Big East tournament.

“Georgetown is first, but we really do need this break.”

On Saturday, Villanova built an 11-point lead, gave it all away, fell behind, traded off seven second-half lead changes, then went on a 16-4 run midway through the second half to finally put away the Bluejays.

With the threes not falling, the Wildcats focused on attacking the rim and scoring in the post in the second half.

Jenkins in particular had an unusual game. He stopped shooting treys and made 5 of 8 shots from inside the arc. That’s the second-most two-pointers he’s ever made and the most he’s ever attempted.

“Just playing off my teammates and adjusting to how teams play me,” said Jenkins, shooting just 30 percent from three the last 10 games.

“They really take away threes and try not to let me get any clean catches so always being aggressive and trying to make the right play.”

For a tired team, backing off the threes was huge.

Villanova outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes after Creighton took its biggest lead – two points at 43-41.

Now comes rest.

“It’s big for these guys,” Wright said. “In my mind, we just had to get to today. We just gotta get through it without getting somebody else hurt and without just being dead.

“Because we’re going to get time off. We’re going to take Sunday off, we’re going to have a light day Monday, and then we’re going to take Tuesday off, because these guys really need the rest. So this is perfect timing for us.”