Eagles

Nate Sudfeld over Nick Foles? Let's settle down

Nate Sudfeld over Nick Foles? Let's settle down

Nick Foles has looked awful the last two games he’s played. 

Let me rephrase that, Nick Foles has looked avert-your-eyes, cover-your-ears, and crawl-up-into-the-fetal-position bad, these last two games. If his play on Jan. 13, 2018 at 4:35 p.m. in any way resembles what we saw vs. the Raiders and Cowboys, despite what the Birds' defense may do, the Eagles will be one and done in the postseason.

All that said, there is no way, barring an injury to Foles, that Nate Sudfeld should see the field, let alone start. Sudfeld has 23 career passing attempts. They came in a meaningless game. He may some day blossom into a starting NFL quarterback or a competent back-up. But that is the future, not the here and now as the Eagles prepare for either the Saints, Panthers or Falcons. Foles gives the Eagles the best chance to win a week from Saturday. In addition to his 39 career starts and 49 games played over a six-year career, he also has started a playoff game. And in that playoff game, he completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards, with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, with a 105.0 passer rating. In said 2013 Wild-Card game vs. the Saints, he led the Eagles to a late touchdown and gave them a 24-23 lead with 4:54 left in regulation. But that was only to see New Orleans get a big kick return from Darren Sproles that led to a game-winning field goal. Yes, that’s ancient history at this point, but at least there is precedent.
  
Sudfeld has never started a regular-season NFL game. To start him or throw him into a playoff game would be a panicky, desperation move that would be unfair to him and the team. That’s not who the Eagles have been all season. Doug Pederson’s club has shown remarkable poise in the face of major injuries and adversity. Now, especially, is not the time to change form.

Fans have every right for concern. The 27-and-2 Nick Foles of Chip Kelly’s 2013 team seems more like an anomaly and, despite having a winning record before breaking his collarbone the next year, his play had begun to trend downward. Then it was off to St.Louis, where, as a starter, he played poorly, and then it was a year as a back-up in Kansas City. Foles returned here to be a back-up. And that’s exactly what he is. Anyone with sight knows Foles is nowhere near Carson Wentz. And he doesn’t have to be. But he has to be a helluva lot better than he has in his last two outings. The good news is the Birds' defense rebounded from the Giants debacle. Foles needs to follow suit.

But turning to a guy who spent the first month of the season on the Eagles' practice squad after he was poached off the Redskins' practice squad is not the answer. Foles' experience and Sudfeld’s lack thereof cannot be overstated. This is not a Cowboys team playing out the string in a meaningless regular-season game. The Saints, Panthers and defending NFC champ Falcons all have star QBs and legit résumés. 

Like it or not, Foles is the guy.

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

usa-doug-pederson-happy.jpg
USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

injury-report-eagles.jpg
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.