Nick Foles didn’t rush the passer. He didn’t block for Wendell Smallwood. He didn’t tackle Todd Gurley. He didn’t go sky-high to pull down one of his passes. He didn’t dive on a muffed punt.
Foles certainly played his role in the Eagles’ 30-23 win over the Rams Sunday night, but the idea that he won the game overlooks the fact that the Eagles played their best overall game of the season at the LA Coliseum.
The Eagles won because all three phases showed up.
So I know most of the talk this week will be about Foles vs. Carson Wentz, and I get that (see story). The Eagles haven’t ruled out a possible Wentz return this season and if he can play at some point, I’d imagine they’re going to put him back in. He’s still the franchise quarterback; he’s still the better quarterback of the two.
But I also get that there seems to be some kind of magic when Foles steps on the field. But watching the game Sunday night, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, imagine if Carson Wentz got the same kind of performances from his teammates.”
I think there’s something to the idea that when the backup quarterback is in, the rest of the team feels a greater sense of urgency. There’s something to the idea that when the backup quarterback is playing — Foles or any backup QB, really — the entire team rallies around that and the idea that no one thinks it's going to win. To his credit, Foles did what he needed to Sunday night, but his teammates made it much easier on him. Think about how great the Eagles’ defense was. Think about how big special teams came up. Think about how well the offensive line blocked. Think about how much better Doug Pederson was as a play-caller once he simplified things.
Wentz is so talented it often feels like everyone just expects him to be Superman. They expect him to be the guy who can erase everyone else’s mistakes. And, at times, he can. But it’s been more difficult for him to be that great this season. It’s hard to know why that’s been the case, but I’d imagine it has something to do with his coming off a torn up knee and then playing through a fractured back.
Foles’ stat line wasn’t anything special Sunday night. He completed 24 of 31 passes, didn’t have a touchdown but did throw a big interception and had a passer rating of 89.4. Wentz has had a passer rating higher than that in 9 of 11 games this season. And that’s not ripping Foles, because he really did play well. It’s just that I don’t think he played any better than Wentz has for most of the season.
The real difference Sunday was the play of the rest of the team. To me, the biggest key for the Eagles is the play of their offensive and defensive lines. Both lines played great against the Rams and helped the team get a win. The Eagles built this team around the offensive and defensive lines and as long as those units play as they did Sunday night, this team has a chance.
Sure, Foles will need to keep playing well. Or if Wentz gets back in there this season, he’ll need to play well too.
But the rest of the team needs to keep doing what it did Sunday night. It’s not all on one position as much as it might seem that way.
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