Nick Foles embracing new role as Carson Wentz's backup QB

Nick Foles embracing new role as Carson Wentz's backup QB

Nick Foles missed running onto the field at the Linc, he missed his teammates in the Eagles' locker room, he missed the City of Philadelphia. 

He even missed getting booed. 

"Crazy enough, you miss the boos from time to time," Foles said at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday afternoon. 

"I laugh just thinking about playing and getting booed but then going back and throwing a touchdown and hearing the eruption. It's the only place that you get something like that. It's a special atmosphere here."

Foles, the guy who Chip Kelly once infamously called the starting quarterback of the Eagles for "the next 1,000 years," is now the backup quarterback for at least the next two. 

Foles, 28, signed a two-year deal, reportedly worth $11 million, earlier this week to re-join the Eagles. He was once a third-round pick, who became a Pro Bowler, got traded, struggled and is now a backup where it all started. 

It's been a strange career so far for Nick Foles. 

"The journey has been up and down and sideways," Foles said. "But at the same time, where we are now, where we are, my wife and I, I wouldn’t change it for the world."

After his magical 2013 season, Foles got hurt in 2014 and played just eight mediocre games for the Eagles. Before the 2015 season, Chip Kelly shipped him to St. Louis as a part of the return in the Sam Bradford trade. Foles was the Rams' starting quarterback in 2015 but led his team to a 4-7 record in his 11 games. At his request, he was cut last July.  

Then he latched on with Andy Reid's Chiefs to be Alex Smith's backup in 2016, but Kansas City declined his option as free agency was about to kick off and Foles became a free agent. 

With no offers to go to a team where he could compete for a starting gig, Foles decided to re-join the Eagles and agreed to terms on Monday. 

"Everyone of us quarterbacks wants their opportunity to play again and be in the huddle," Foles said. "But at the same time, you can't have the mindset out there that far. In the moment, my role right now is to be the backup quarterback and help Carson in any way that I can. And I take that role with great pride and seriousness."

Foles got a taste of life as a backup last year in Kansas City, where he played in just three games and started just one. While he wasn't playing as much as he had in the past, Foles said he enjoyed the new role and responsibilities. Instead of huddling up with his teammates on game days, he worked with the scout team during the week and helped Smith prepare. 

But helping Smith, who has been in the league since 2005, will be much different than backing up Wentz, who is entering his second in 2017. Smith was able to help Foles learn as a quarterback. Now, Foles has to help Wentz grow.

The two have already been in contact and Foles praised Wentz as an athlete, quarterback and student of the game. Foles thinks his experience will help the guy who owns a job that once belonged to him. 

"The way it differs is, I've been a quarterback here," Foles said. "I've played a lot of games in the Linc. I've played a lot of games for the Eagles. So I know that Carson is going to go through different things throughout the years, so I can relate. I think when you have someone around you who can relate when you have a question or you're unsure about something. And if someone has been there and done it, it gives you more meaning when they give you an answer."

Foles certainly found success in Philadelphia. His 94.2 passer rating in his Eagles career ranks first in franchise history. And his seven-touchdown game against Oakland in 2013 is just one of eight seven-touchdown pass games in NFL history and just one of three in the modern era. Only Foles, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have done it since 1969. 

To put that seven-touchdown game in perspective, Wentz threw seven touchdowns over the last nine games in his rookie season. 

And that seven-touchdown game was a part of an incredible season. Plenty will call it a fluke, and maybe it was, but his 2013 season under Kelly was absolutely magical. 

In that 2013 Pro Bowl season, Foles completed 64 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions and finished the year with a passer rating of 119.2.

Looking back four years later, what does Foles think of that season? 

"That player is still capable," Foles said. "That player is still here."

Now, that player is sitting on the bench. But at least he's doing it in Philly, boos and all. 

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Even Jeffrey Lurie couldn’t help but draw parallels between the Eagles’ selections on day two of the 2017 NFL Draft and certain aspects of the class of 2002. The difference is the stakes might be even higher for Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas than they were when the club took Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown 15 years ago.

Cornerback was by far the Eagles’ most pressing need entering the draft this year, so it was no surprise they came away with two in the first three rounds. Watching the organization choose defensive backs in succession instantly brought back memories of ’02 nonetheless.

That was the last time the Eagles successfully located a long-term solution at cornerback -- or any spot in the secondary for that matter -- in the draft. The selections of Sheppard and Brown paved the way for seven years of stability at the position, a period during which the franchise went to the playoffs five times, won three division championships and made a Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles are hoping history will repeat in some sense with Jones and Douglas, although the landscape of the roster is quite different this time around. Sheppard and Brown were able to sit behind Pro Bowl corners Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent for roughly a year-and-a-half.

The sooner Jones and Douglas are able to get on the field for the Eagles, the better.

As far as Jones is concerned, there’s no telling exactly when that will be. The two-time All-Pac-12 defender is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that dropped him from a potential top-15 pick or higher to No. 43 in the draft. Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman admitted Jones’ availability for 2017 is “to be determined.”

Assuming Jones makes a full recovery as expected -- granted, far from assured -- we’re talking about one of the best prospects in the draft. Along with the addition of defensive end Derek Barnett at No. 14, Roseman likened it to having multiple first-round picks.

“We just thought it was a really good opportunity,” Roseman said. “We’re really optimistic about it because [Jones] is 20-years-old and in doing all the research that our doctors and trainers did about this injury, we just thought it was a great opportunity for our football team.”

Lurie saw similarities to Jones and another member of the class of ’02, safety Michael Lewis.

Lewis was taken between Sheppard and Brown in the second round, and wound up departing as a free agent after just five seasons, though not before earning an invitation to his only Pro Bowl. As it turns out, Lewis was only available to the Eagles in the first place due to a medical condition -- one that didn’t prevent him from playing nine years in the league.

“[Eagles owner Jeffrey Lure] just talked a little bit about, ‘Do you remember that draft,’” Roseman said. “If you remember at the time, I think the point he brought up was Michael Lewis had a heart condition and he fell a little bit in that draft because of that, and we kind of took a chance on him here, and so he was, I guess, analogizing it like with Sidney.”

At least Douglas will have the opportunity to play right away, which is something the Eagles desperately need. It’s almost impossible to fault the front office for taking the best player available when he represents such amazing value, even if he is hurt, but the depth chart at corner was in a precarious state.

Had the regular season started on Thursday, the Eagles’ likely starting cornerbacks were 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills and journeyman free-agent signing Patrick Robinson, with little-known Ron Brooks in the slot. At least Douglas serves as competition for the uninspiring group, even if he’s not ready to step in Week 1.

“The thing that really stood out in his week at the Senior Bowl, you guys probably heard me talk about it all the time, this guy is tough and very competitive,” Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “You saw it the entire week. Every rep was like the last rep he was playing. I love the way this guy competes.”

Obviously, the Eagles’ hope is Jones and Douglas are the next Sheppard and Brown, even if that wasn’t exactly the intention. Regardless, there are some potentially key distinctions.

Again, Sheppard and Brown had the benefit of tremendous veteran tutors and time to learn before being thrust into action. Douglas is competing for a job immediately, and if Jones is allowed to play in 2017, there’s a good chance he sees the field. The Eagles are in no position to bring these guys along slowly.

While Jones may be a better prospect than Sheppard was at the time, Douglas is less than Brown, at least in terms of draft capital. Sheppard and Brown were selected Nos. 26 and 59 in ’02. Jones and Douglas went Nos. 43 and 99.

The Eagles hope those will be remembered as minor details. The real plan is for Jones and Douglas to one day soon finally settle those corner spots that have essentially been up for grabs ever since Sheppard and Brown vacated them.

Even the Eagles don’t know if everything is going to work out that way, but based on the Lito-Sheldon draft, the optics sure seem good. Of course, it took the better part of two seasons for that plan to come together, too.

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Here is a breakdown of players that should interest the Eagles on Saturday, the final day of the NFL draft. The Eagles have five more picks left — two in the fourth and one in the fifth, sixth and seven.

Options in the fourth and fifth round

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Perine is an old school power back. He'd be a great complement to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, although not necessarily a fit in this offense.

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
Williams (6-0, 212) has ideal size but not breakaway speed. He also has good vision and cutback ability.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
The forgotten man in Clemson's star-studded offense. Gallman is tough and versatile with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Walker had a breakout sophomore season but gained too much muscle the following offseason. If the 2015 version returns, he could be a solid player.

Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
Gibson is a one-trick pony but his speed is legit. The Eagles could use a young burner.

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
Jason Peters can't play forever. Davenport dominated at Bucknell. He's still a bit of a project, but he has tools to work with.

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Before the season, Johnson was a player to keep an eye on as a fringe first-rounder. He struggled at times this season but is still athletic and intriguing.

Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Johnson really flashes at times. Other times, his pad level is too high and he loses to offensive linemen despite outmuscling them.

Options in the sixth and seventh rounds

Chad Wheeler, OT, USC
Wheeler has had issues on and off the field but has shown flashes of being a decent tackle. He may not have the athleticism to hang at left tackle at the next level.

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma
He's had concussion issues and questions about his passion. But when Walker is in the lineup and focused, he can play.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
Reeves-Maybin is undersized but instinctive and fast. At worst, he becomes a special team's ace.

Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
Thompson is a ball-hawking safety, pulling in seven interceptions last season. It's not a position of need, but again, Thompson could help out on special teams and maybe develop into something more.