Much of the talk in the aftermath of the Eagles’ way-closer-than-it-should-have-been 34-29 victory over the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium has been about the subpar performance of the Birds’ defense, and that’s understandable. Giving up 504 yards of offense and 29 points to a 2-11 (now 2-12) team is disconcerting, for sure.
But there are very few complaints that can be made regarding the Eagles’ offense, particularly the performance of the quarterback who was making his first start in 14 months and his first as an Eagle since mid-2014. Nick Foles completed 24-of-38 passes for 237 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 115.8 quarterback rating.
While there were a couple of throws that went awry, Foles by and large looked a lot like the guy who – during his first stint in midnight green – threw for 27 touchdowns with just two picks in his 2013 Pro Bowl season. Heck, he looked a good bit like the guy he replaced as the team’s starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, who is done for the season after undergoing knee surgery last week.
I know, I know. Foles isn’t Wentz; he’s not as mobile, not as quick afoot, and doesn’t possess the “escapability” that helped Wentz make so many memorable plays over the first 13 games of the season.
But Foles certainly didn’t look like a guy who, prior to the Eagles-Rams game on Dec. 10, had seen only mop-up duty (14 total passes) in a few blowout victories this season, and he also didn’t look like he was unprepared or scared.
We were all skeptical when Foles and Coach Doug Pederson last week said there wouldn’t be any significant changes to the game plan with the change at quarterback, but that was pretty much the case. Pederson showed confidence in the veteran by going with an up-tempo offense and allowing him to air it out on occasion, and Foles did not disappoint. He completed passes to seven different Eagles, with his favorite targets being Nelson Aghalor, Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery (17 receptions among them), each of whom caught a touchdown pass. The other scoring pass went to a wide-open Trey Burton.
Yes, the play of the defense the past three weeks is a legitimate concern, but the quarterback situation seems to be in very good hands. Thanks to Foles and his many weapons, the Eagles are now 12-2 and have clinched a first-round bye in the postseason. And, if Foles keeps playing on this level and the defense gets back to its midseason form, it’s not out of the question that the Birds might be flying to Minnesota for a certain big game in early February.
NOTE: This week’s Philly Pressbox Radio Roundtable (7pm ET, Wednesday, 12/20) includes a chat with Eagles beat writer Paul Domowitch from Philly.com. The link for the live broadcast: http://tobtr.com/10463647
–Jim “Chet” Chesko