Like most transactions involving NFL backup quarterbacks, two pieces of breaking news on March 13 barely jostled the ol’ gridiron landscape. But the result of the Philadelphia Eagles’ decisions to drop Chase Daniel and add Nick Foles that day could reverberate for a while.
Foles, standing in again for the injured Carson Wentz, led the Eagles on Sunday to Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. Not surprisingly, Philadelphia was quickly made 5½-point underdogs to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who have five Lombardi Trophies — or five more than the Eagles.
But Foles has led the Eagles to two home playoff victories as underdogs, including a stunningly efficient, 352-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC title. Foles is what Wentz could be, but still is not: a Super Bowl QB.
After the 2016 season, the Chiefs still considered Alex Smith to be their franchise QB, so they declined the option on the second year of Foles’ contract and let him walk. Daniel, who had just backed up the rookie Wentz, thought he was good enough to start elsewhere, so the Eagles released him.
After essentially signing a two-year, $11 million contract, Foles threw just four passes through the Eagles’ first 12 games of the season, but he was regarded as a more ideal backup than Daniel, because he never had any aspirations of winning the starting job.
Then Wentz tore up his knee. Foles took his place. Although Foles threw 27 touchdowns (and two interceptions) for the Eagles in 2013, Eagles fans thought the season was lost when Wentz went down, because Foles is not as strong-armed, as heady or as mobile as Wentz.
And yet Foles has done far better than imagined, leading the Eagles to a victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the game in which Wentz was hurt, and winning four of five starts since. The only loss was to Dallas in a dreary season finale that carried no importance to the Eagles.
Foles’ resurgence won’t ignite a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, because Wentz is expected to recover fully, so he won’t lose his starting position. But Foles’ performance in the last six weeks is a double shot of good news for the Eagles — and for Foles.
Not only has Foles has taken a team to the Super Bowl under rather difficult circumstances, but the Eagles could fetch some draft picks and/or players in an offseason deal with a team looking for a winning veteran quarterback. That team would most likely give Foles a raise and a multi-year contract.
Funny how this all worked out. Sam Bradford, the St. Louis quarterback for whom Foles was traded, was on the Vikings’ sideline Sunday as their backup quarterback. The Rams, who had moved to Los Angeles, drafted Jared Goff in 2016 and made him their starter, making Bradford expenda. Bradford was injured early this season.
After another playoff collapse, Reid and the Chiefs are thinking hard about whether they can win with Smith, considering a future with the gifted Patrick Mahomes, a rookie last year. Oh, and Chase Daniel is looking for another contract. At 39, Drew Brees, like Brady, is still going strong.
Super Bowl LII will focus mainly on Brady and the Patriots’ quest to add to their amazing legacy. But this Super Bowl also has an underdog story in not just the Eagles, but in their resurgent quarterback, who already has made his team look smart for picking him up. At this point, they’d all just be happy to win the Super Bowl and worry about that other stuff later.