The Curious Case of Nick Foles
Nick Foles. Not someone you would expect to be playing for a Super Bowl on February 4. Foles has had a somewhat rocky career in the NFL, but all that is about to change if he can help his team defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Patriots are 3-point favorites in legal Super Bowl betting lines, but the Eagles have won each of their Playoff games under Foles, games in which they were also considered the underdogs. Let’s take a look at how Nick Foles, a QB afterthought for years, managed to land in his current situation.
Foles was born in Austin, Texas, and enjoyed a successful high school football career as QB for Westlake High School. Interestingly enough, he attended the same high school as Drew Brees, current New Orleans Saints QB. Even more interesting, Foles broke most of the records established by Brees while he played at Westlake. After being recruited by Texas, Baylor and Georgetown, Foles ended up committing to Michigan State.
His time at Michigan State was short lived. He only appeared in 1 game and went 5-8 for 57 yards. After a disappointing start to his college career, Foles transferred to University of Arizona as a red shirt freshman in 2008. Foles originally lost the starting spot through competition with alternative QB Matt Scott, though he became the regular starter after Scott failed to do the job against Iowa. Foles enjoyed much success as the Arizona starter. In his 2011 season, he threw for over 4,000 yards and was ranked #1 in the PAC-12 Conference.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Foles with the 88th pick in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Foles was originally touted as the starter, but took a backseat to then-QB Michael Vick. Vick went out with a concussion in the second game of the season, giving Foles his first opportunity to play in the NFL. However, despite having 219 yards and a touchdown, Foles fumbled the ball at the end of the game resulting in an Eagles loss. He ended up becoming the starter for the entire year, but broke his hand in a game against the Redskins at the end of the season.
The next year, new coach Chip Kelly created a competition between Vick and Foles for the starting job, with the responsibility ultimately falling to Vick. Foles ended up staring several games after Vick injured his hamstring and did well. He finished the year with a record TD-INT ratio (beating Tom Brady) and helped the Eagles clinch a Playoff berth. 2014 was a different story. As the regular starter, Foles finished the year with a 13-10 TD-INT ratio and 4 fumbles (with 1 recovery). He did manage to amass over 4,000 passing yards and a 6-2 record as a starter. He ended up suffering a broken collarbone, leaving Mark Sanchez to take over.
In 2015, Foles was traded to the St. Louis Rams. He had a decent first game against the Seahawks, but struggled from then on. He had flashes of positivity against the Cardinals, but his 2014 issues with turnovers began to resurface. Foles was eventually benched for Case Keenum (who played in this year’s NFC Championship against Foles), but Keenum suffered a concussion 2 weeks later. He regained his spot but continued to struggle. Keenum took over once healthy again. The Rams drafted QB Jared Goff #1 overall in the 2016 Draft, which caused Foles to be frustrated and request a release.
He was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on a 1-year deal to be backup to QB Alex Smith. Foles saw his first action in Week 8 after Smith went out with injury. He threw 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. He went on to start against Jacksonville while Smith recovered and won that game too. Smith came back from injury and Foles rode the rest of the year out on the bench. The team declined his second-year player option and he was released.
Foles then signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for a second time. This time, he would be backup to second-year QB Carson Wentz. Wentz had a monumental season, but Foles was forced in after Wentz suffered a torn ACL against the Rams in Week 14. He went on to help the Eagles win that game and clinch their division. With Wentz determined out for the remainder of the season, Foles was name starter and finished out their regular season with 2 wins and a loss.
In the Playoffs, Foles has gone 49-63 for 598 yards and 3 touchdowns. His first Playoff game since 2013 was against the Atlanta Falcons. Foles had 246 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. It was more of a defensive game, but Foles’ clean sheet was a sign of hope. In the NFC Championship against former teammate Case Keenum and the Vikings, Foles was unstoppable. He went 26-33 for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns. His pocket presence looked great, even under pressure, and he showed he deserves to be where he is.
Now, in Super Bowl LII, Foles stands opposite arguably the greatest QB in NFL history. The odds say the Eagles will lose, but they said that about their last 2 games. Foles’ confidence is through the roof, and he looks ready to prove all his doubters wrong over the years. It seems only right he wins a Super Bowl with the team that drafted him, giving his young NFL career a nice full circle.