Meet Cody Kessler, the quarterback that Nick Foles brought to the Eagles

Meet Cody Kessler, the quarterback that Nick Foles brought to the Eagles

Why did Cody Kessler sign with the Eagles?

He doesn’t hesitate.

“Nick Foles.”

Foles is the gift that keeps giving. 

It was Foles who urged Kessler to consider signing with the Eagles after he was released by Jacksonville, where Kessler and Foles were briefly teammates.

He spoke so highly of this place, he really did,” Kessler said after practice Wednesday. “It really did have a special place in his heart and you could hear that when he talked to me.

Foles signed with the Jaguars on March 11, and the Jags released Kessler on May 5, so even though they were technically teammates, they never practiced together and barely knew each other.

Yet one of the first people to call Kessler after he was released was Foles, who had just taken his roster spot.

He was actually the first person to talk to me other than my family and my agent," Kessler said. "When Jacksonville let me go, he called me that day and we had a really good talk, really about a 45-minute talk just about his journey and what he went through and we started getting to know each other after that. The way he talked about this place was something that really intrigued me, and he wasn’t lying. The locker room is special, the city is special, this team is special. It’s been great.

Foles and Kessler have a lot in common. Both were third-round picks — Foles was the 88th pick in 2012, Kessler the 93rd pick in 2016.

And both bounced around early in their careers and experienced some pretty low points. Foles went from the Eagles to the Rams to the Chiefs and back to the Eagles before he became a legend. 

Kessler is now on his third team in four years and trying to find a home like Foles did.

Kessler said he and Foles met a couple times before their paths briefly converged, but he said they really didn’t know each other at all before Foles picked up his phone and called him this past May.

That's the Nick Foles we all know.

He called a virtual stranger just because he thought he could provide him with some guidance.

He’s just awesome,” Kessler said. “He’s definitely someone that I look up to, someone that obviously went through tough times in his career, ups and downs, something I’ve kind of dealt with, whether it was in Cleveland or Jacksonville last year, kind of a rough time, so it was nice to have that, someone who’s kind of been through the journey, the highs and the lows of this league, someone to kind of lean on and talk to. And I still talk to him. Just one of the most positive, genuine guys I’ve ever been around. Someone you definitely want in your corner.

Foles certainly had more succcess early in his career than Kessler has had.

Kessler went 0-8 in eight starts for the Browns in 2016, although he did have six TDs, just two INTs and a 92.3 passer rating, fourth highest by a Browns QB in the last 50 years.

He sat behind DeShone Kizer in 2017, then was traded to the Jaguars last spring. He went 2-2 for the Jags last year before getting released and signing with the Eagles.

One of his strengths is his anticipation, and he throws a really friendly ball, a ball that’s accurate, and gives his receivers a chance to make a play,” said Nelson Agholor, Kessler’s roommate at USC. “I was happy when we signed him because if I can help him in any way giving himself value then that’s what I want to do. I like him as a person and I like him as a player and with the right opportunity he can have a lot of success in this league.

Can it be here?

After a rocky minicamp, Kessler has looked fairly sharp the first week of training camp and that combined with Nate Sudfeld looking not quite so sharp makes you wonder if he has a shot at the No. 2 job.

It would be an upset, but it’s not all that far-fetched. Sudfeld has been here longer, but Kessler is more experienced and has started and won NFL games.

Something you can’t control, other than you can control how you perform on the field, but I don’t worry about it,” Kessler said. “Me and Clayton (Thorson) are both in the same spot right now, learning the offense, and Carson and Nate have been great talking us through it, telling us what they see and what they’re looking for. My biggest thing is learn the offense, keep making plays, perform in the preseason games, and I don’t think about anything else.

Maybe Kessler will be quickly forgotten around here. Maybe this training camp won’t amount to anything for the 26-year-old. 

One thing is certain: He sure picked the right guy to help guide him along his path.

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Eagle Eye podcast: Let’s talk about Carson Wentz

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Eagle Eye podcast: Let’s talk about Carson Wentz

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro to figure out how much of this is Carson Wentz’s fault. 

The sky isn’t falling. Andre Dillard is preparing to play right tackle. We still need more J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. 

Ray gives his take on the loss to the Patriots and looks ahead at the Seahawks. 

• The sky isn’t falling
• The Carson Wentz debate
• Playing Dillard at RT 
• Ray revisits the Patriots game
• Kamu Grugier-Hill/linebackers 
• Still want more Arcega-Whiteside 
• Mills and Darby have solidified secondary
• The overall defense is playing better 
• And early look at Seahawks

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Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in JJ Arcega-Whiteside

For most teams, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. Guy makes a catch. Big whoop.

For this team? It was monumental.

For any wide receiver on the post-DeSean Jackson 2019 Eagles to record a 29-yard reception, that’s a rarity.

For a rookie who we’re all waiting to see something positive from, it was virtually historic.

Rookie second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who had just two catches for 14 yards to show for his first nine NFL games, had a big 29-yarder in the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Patriots game Sunday at the Linc.

To put that into context, it was the fourth-longest reception by an Eagles wide receiver in the post-Jackson Era (since Week 2).

“The game, everything kind of slowed down, definitely, knowing the plays and getting a little more experience here and there,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “But every day you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. I definitely did some good things, but I’m sure there’s some mistakes in there, too.”

Arcega-Whiteside has been one of the biggest mysteries on the team this year.

Why was a rookie who had such a promising preseason unable to get on the field while the rest of the Eagles’ wide receivers sputtered and struggled?

He played 128 snaps against the Falcons and Lions, when Alshon Jeffery was hurt, then got just 43 snaps — with no catches — over the next six weeks.

With Jeffery sidelined again, Arcega-Whiteside got 19 snaps Sunday, his most since Week 3.

He had a nine-yard catch in the first quarter that was wiped out by a penalty, then early in the fourth quarter made a nice grab for 29 yards on a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 6-yard-line, getting the Eagles out of the soup.

Believe it or not, that was the 4th-longest catch this year against the Patriots, the longest by a rookie.

That was Arcega-Whiteside's only catch in the Eagles' 17-10 loss, but it was definitely an encouraging step.

The Eagles are desperate for anything from their wide receivers. Any positive sign is huge.

Just with that one 29-yard catch, Arcega-Whiteside had more yards than Nelson Agholor in five of Agholor's last seven games and more catches than Mack Hollins has in his last six games.

Small steps.

“There were some times where I got open, there were some times I didn’t get open and I’ve got to look at it and learn from it and see how I can get better,” he said. “No matter how big or small the play is you’ve just got to build off each play and learn from the ones that don’t go your way, because the second you get complacent, bad things happen.”

Arcega-Whiteside’s catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie wide receiver since Hollins had a 64-yarder against the Redskins in 2017.

“Making plays feels good,” he said. “They feel better when you win, but every day just stack it, build off of this and keep it going. Just build off every success, learn from every failure and get better.”

You would think Arcega-Whitside has earned some more playing time. How do you not play this kid?

He’s got the size, he’s got the hands, he's got the ball control, and he’s getting more and more comfortable in the offense.

The Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in Arcega-Whiteside. Because there's a decent chance it's more than we're seeing from anybody else.

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