Has anyone ever had a wilder NFL career than Nick Foles? In between a 27-touchdown, two-interception campaign and a Super Bowl MVP award, Foles was benched for Case Keenum by Jeff Fisher in a city that no longer has a football team. That’s a long, strange trip.
Foles does not do normal. He only knows dramatic, and boy was Sunday dramatic. With the Eagles in a win-or-go-home situation, Foles dueled with Deshaun Watson down to the final whistle. After engineering a game-winning field goal drive, Foles emerged the victor, throwing for four scores and a career-high 471 yards.
Foles is a different player than Carson Wentz. He is far more aggressive down the field and more prone to mistakes. It’s a style that creates lows like his awful Week 1 performance against the Falcons and highs like his heroic Super Bowl effort versus the Patriots.
It can get you benched for Keenum or … in the lineup for Week 17 as the “hot hand.” With Wentz still recovering from the broken vertebra in his back, Foles’ performance has given the Eagles the cover they needed to be cautious with their franchise player and throw caution to the wind with Foles. He will be out there as the Eagles try to go 2-for-2 in do-or-die situations and hope the Bears can eliminate the Vikings.
Going on 30, Foles is, of course, not supplanting Wentz for the long term. Headed to free agency, Foles will be gone in 2019 as Wentz readies for a massive contract extension. In sports, we often focus on what players are not. Foles is not a superstar. He is not long-term answer under center. He is a legend, one capable of creating indelible moments even as he suffers the occasional catastrophic turnover or Jeff Fisher benching.
Top Five Week 16 Storylines
Christian McCaffrey sets single-season running back receptions record. Despite — or perhaps because of — Cam Newton’s absence, CMC caught 12 balls against the Falcons, bringing his season total to an absurd 106. Thats four more than Matt Forte brought home in 2014. Only Forte, CMC, LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Centers have hit the century mark as running backs. McCaffrey also went over 1,000 yards on the ground, joining him with Forte and Tomlinson as the only players in league history to go 1,000/100. McCaffrey has been a sophomore superstar, averaging 5.02 yards per carry while totaling 13 touchdowns. He has done so even though Newton has been slowed by injury and the Panthers have struggled to block. McCaffrey has been the player he was on his otherworldly college film. Still just 22, McCaffrey could end up in the top 10 of a number of different career stats if he can stay healthy.
Demaryius Thomas suffers torn Achilles’ tendon. One of the great Achilles’ success stories — Thomas has averaged 13.6 yards per catch and 74.4 yards per game in 121 contests since first tearing his Achilles’ in 2011 — Thomas saw his season end against the Eagles. The question is if the same will be true for his career. Already trending downward in recent years, Thomas had become replacement level in 2018. Now he will be 31 and coming off major injury as a free agent. Thomas has obviously come back before but this is a situation where 7.5 years makes all the difference. Mileage and the march of time have taken their toll. Sure to be an oft-discussed player in retirement — just how good was Thomas, really? — hopefully Thomas can add another chapter to his story in 2019. As for the 2018 Texans, it would appear the football gods have decreed they can only have two healthy receivers at any given moment. If all goes well, rookie Keke Coutee will be No. 2 for Week 17.
Dante Pettis suffers knee injury. Lost early against the Bears, Pettis is believed to be dealing with an MCL issue. It’s a disappointing ending to an injury-marred but otherwise promising rookie campaign. It’s also better news than Pettis could have received. A torn ACL would have had him in danger of missing 2019, or at least the first six games. An MCL will slow important offseason development but ultimately not hold Pettis out for minicamp or training camp. A player offensive wiz Kyle Shanahan traded up for in the third round, Pettis appeared worth the move as a first-year wideout. He compiled while also flashing game-breaking ability, averaging 17.3 yards on his 27 2018 grabs. With Jimmy Garoppolo and Shanahan not going anywhere for 2019, Pettis is in the right place at the right time for Dynasty league value.
Robby Anderson continues to get in rhythm with Sam Darnold. The owner of one of 2018’s worst offseasons, Anderson’s year got off to a painfully slow start. He simply could not get on the same page with Darnold as OC Jeremy Bates called one of the most conservative, horizontal NFL offenses in recent memory. That finally changed when Darnold returned from his foot injury three games ago. Since, Anderson has gone 20/312/3, averaging 7/104/1. That’s genuine WR1 production, something the Jets have previously said they thought Anderson was capable of. Still only 25, Anderson will enter restricted free agency having put a ton of big plays on film. Provided he does not sign a multi-year offer sheet elsewhere, Anderson will have an excellent 2019 shot at earning a huge payday in 2020. He is the kind of offensive weapon the Jets should be eager to keep as they develop Darnold.
C.J. Anderson steps right into Todd Gurley’s void for the Rams. That should probably put Gurley’s MVP candidacy on ice. Mothballed in Carolina before bouncing between workouts, CJA was signed off the street last Tuesday. He needed only five days to get ready to deck the Cardinals for 20/167/1 on the ground. Although also capable of contributing through the air, Anderson caught just one pass for -5 yards. The Rams are not about to establish a committee — Gurley will remain an every-down back for the playoffs — but Anderson does provide the option of getting Gurley further rest as the Rams tune up against the 49ers in Week 17. Backup running back was a concern for a team without many holes. CJA has provided the answer. Provided Gurley sits, Anderson will offer boffo Week 17 DFS appeal.
1. Have the Dolphins ever considered not being like this?
3. Nick Mullens, why did you not tuck the ball and run?
Stats of the Week
Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to record six-straight 100-catch campaigns. His 15 receiving touchdowns are also a new Steelers record.
Tom Brady’s 126 yards passing were his fewest since Week 17 2013. Brady has just nine touchdowns over his past eight games.
Tweet of the Week, From Jim McCormick on August 23: It takes around 18 or 19 weeks, but once Foles warms up, watch out.
The I Don’t Really Want To Know What Happened Here Award: “The Jags got the ball off a turnover inside the Dolphin red zone and punted from inside their own territory. That is a special kind of horrific.”
The 19th Time Is The Charm Award: The Steelers’ offsides/blocked field goal gambit.
Worst Cameo of the Week: Stevan Ridley’s lost fumble.