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?

New Jersey product Tim Adleman limits Phillies to 1 hit over 8 innings

New Jersey product Tim Adleman limits Phillies to 1 hit over 8 innings

Cincinnati Reds starter Tim Adleman came into Friday night’s start against the Phillies with an ERA above six, having allowed 10 runs in his last 5 2/3 innings. 

So, naturally, he gave up just one hit over eight scoreless innings. 

The 29-year-old righty dominated the Phillies in just his 20th career MLB start en route to his third win this season, pitching easily the best game of his young career in a 5-2 Reds’ win (see game recap).

It was understandably the best that Reds manager Bryan Price had seen from Adleman.
 
"It wasn't just because of the line score," Price said. "It was really command-based. Really good both sides of the plate. Had a nice sinking fastball, could straighten it out when he needed to. A very, very good changeup. I don’t think he even used a breaking ball there until the eighth inning.

"So it was really that good."

At just 100 pitches through eight, naturally the question for Price was whether to allow him the chance at a complete game. However, Price needed to get reliever Asher Wojciechowski work to get him ready for a start next week.

"I wanted to stay in there pretty badly, but you understand the move," Adleman said. "Wojo needed to get some work. It had been a while since he threw and it's a game in May. It's not a game that's deeper in the season. … I totally understand."

For his eight innings, Adleman attacked the Phillies' batters early in counts and didn't allow a batter to reach third all night. He retired the leadoff batter in all but one inning and allowed just four batters to reach base.

The Phillies' only threat came in the first inning. An Andres Blanco single was followed by an Aaron Altherr hit by pitch. That brought up Thursday's hero -- Tommy Joseph -- with two men on and just one out. Adleman utilized his changeup on a 1-2 pitch, inducing a weak grounder back the mound for a 1-4-3 double play. 

In three at-bats against Joseph, Adleman recorded three ground ball outs, all on the changeup, which is his primary off-speed offering.

"The scouting report is that he's a really good fastball hitter. Does a lot of damage on fastballs," Adleman said, "So if you can get him in situations where you're confident he's looking for a fastball and then cut a changeup on him, it can be really effective. Obviously, you have to keep it down, but that's the same with all your pitches."

Joseph's at-bats set the trend for the rest of the Phillies' lineup. The Reds’ starter kept the ball down and didn’t allow another baserunner until he walked Blanco to lead off the seventh. Sixteen of his 24 outs came on ground balls and only five pitches were hit past the infield. 

Adleman stated his goal was to use the Phillies’ aggressiveness against them with strikes early in the count and it worked. It was his first time pitching into the eighth inning in his career and he did so with almost exclusively his fastball and changeup.

"I think it had a lot to do with that little pause [in his delivery] and he did a good job changing speeds on us," Joseph said. "He basically did it with two pitches, which says a lot about how hard this game can be. Hats off to him. 

"Next time we'll see if we can't get him back."

In a way, Adleman was getting the Phillies back. He made the third start of his career at Citizens Bank Park last year on May 14. He took the loss against Friday’s starter, Aaron Nola, while allowing three runs in five innings.

Born in Staten Island, Adleman was raised in New Jersey, but grew up a Yankees fan. He hadn't been to CBP until college, where he faced Villanova while playing for Georgetown. 

At 29, he's a little old for a second-year starter because he took a winding road to the major leagues. Drafted by the Orioles in 2010, he was nearly out of baseball by 24. He spent two years in independent leagues before catching on with the Reds and debuting in the show last season.

The journeyman starter had struggled in his last few starts, which helped his ERA balloon to 6.19. However, his Friday night opponent seemed more than happy to take some air out of the balloon. Adleman became the fifth pitcher in the last six days to come into a start against the Phillies with an ERA of 5.00 or above and allow one run or less over at least five innings. 

"It feels good," Adleman said of his night. "Philly's a good young team and Nola is making quite a name for himself. He out-pitched me last year and coming into tonight I knew I had an opportunity to right the ship so to speak."

Pete Mackanin calls team meeting after Phillies hit low point with 21st loss in 26 games

Pete Mackanin calls team meeting after Phillies hit low point with 21st loss in 26 games

BOX SCORE

When the opposing pitcher comes in with an ERA that matches the area code for San Diego — 6.19 — and holds you scoreless on one single over eight innings, well …

You've reached the low point of your season.

And it's time for a team meeting.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin called for a little powwow after his club suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night (see Instant Replay). Don't let the final score fool you. It wasn't that close. The loss was the Phillies' 21st in the last 26 games. They were held to three hits for the fourth time in the last six games — five losses — and have scored just nine runs over that span.

Mackanin acknowledged that this was the low point for his team, which owns the worst record in the majors at 16-30. Cincinnati starting pitcher Tim Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA, but he pitched like an ace in holding the Phillies to just a first-inning single over his eight shutout innings (see story). Adleman walked two, struck out four and at one point set down 16 straight Phillies. The 29-year-old right-hander has made 20 starts in his big-league career and this was by far the best.

"Yeah," Mackanin said when asked if the loss was the season's low point. "We need to step it up. We're better than this. I know we're better than this. We've just got to start playing as aggressive as we can and take it to the other team. Be aggressive at the plate and pound the strike zone."

That apparently was Mackanin's message to the club in his postgame meeting, though he would not talk about it.

"He just wants to see us play with a little more fire and a little more energy," Aaron Altherr said. "You know, it's something we've got to do. Today wasn't too great. But, like I said, hopefully we can right the ship and start winning some games again."

Tommy Joseph was tight-lipped on the content of the team meeting.

"That's basically stuff that was between us," he said. "There's a pretty good understanding that we need to get going in here and that was really it. I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory and what he had to say is between us.

"It's definitely not a lack of effort. Everybody is out there trying to get the job done. I think there are certain nights when the job is getting done. When things start to spark a little bit, everybody feeds off that. Obviously there are some nights where that doesn't happen. It's definitely not from a lack of effort. Everybody is going out there busting their ass, so it's just a matter of sometimes it goes our way and sometimes it doesn't."

Mackanin used slumping Odubel Herrera in the leadoff spot for the first time this season and he produced a ninth-inning double after Adleman exited. The Phillies actually loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but a fielder's choice groundball and then a strikeout by Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, ended the game. Franco struck out swinging wildly at a full-count breaking ball from Raisel Iglesias.

Joseph mentioned that Adleman changed speeds well and used a slight hesitation in his delivery to throw off hitters.

But was it more the pitcher or more just a bad offense?

"It's hard to tell," Mackanin said. "That's a daily question. Are we not hitting the ball like we should or is the pitcher that good? It seems like I look up and every other pitcher we face has a 6.00 ERA, but I think it's all because we're missing good pitches to hit. We're getting pitches to hit and we're not hitting them."

Aaron Nola did not have a good start. He gave up a pair of homers in falling behind, 3-0, after two innings, and, obviously, there was no coming back, not with this offense.

The Philies are 5-18 in the month of May.

Or should we say Mayday?

"We're trying to stay positive, as positive as we can throughout this stretch," Altherr said. "You know, it's tough sometimes when things are going the way they are. We're just going to keep being positive, keep trying to bring as much energy as we can to win some games."