Nick Foles’ performance on Christmas Day wasn’t the worst game of his NFL career. Not even close.
Foles completed 50.0 percent of his passes for 4.3 yards per attempt with a touchdown and an interception in the Eagles’ 19-10 win Monday over the Raiders — and the quarterback’s performance was even more brutal than that line would indicate. Inaccurate. Holding the ball too long. Throwing off of his back foot. Risky decision making.
Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the Eagles’ upcoming playoff run. But it wasn’t Foles’ worst.
There are several games that could objectively qualify as Foles’ worst, though one comes to mind for its relevance. The sixth-year veteran once completed 37.9 percent for a 2.3 average in a 17-3 loss to the Cowboys, experiencing many of the same issues we witnessed against Oakland. Inaccurate. Holding the ball too long. Throwing off of his back foot. Risky decision making.
Yet, whatever similarities may exist between those two contests is not what brought Foles’ dreadful Cowboys performance to mind. It’s what happened afterward.
It turned out Foles sustained a concussion at some point during that 2013 outing against the Cowboys and would miss the next game against the Giants. Then upon returning one week later, he was suddenly unstoppable.
Foles immediately followed perhaps the worst game of his career with his best, completing 78.6 percent of his passes for a 14.5 average and tying the NFL record with seven touchdowns against the Raiders. That was only the beginning. He threw 23 touchdowns to only two interceptions over a span of nine games, including the playoffs, leading the Eagles on a 7-2 run during that span.
That’s Foles. One week, he can do no wrong, throwing for over 400 yards and multiple touchdowns. The next, he could struggle to lead a scoring drive or so much as complete a pass, and all his worst habits will rear their ugly heads at once.
To borrow a term from The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia, Foles is a “high-variance” quarterback. And while that may not be ideal for an Eagles team with Super Bowl aspirations, what it means is his bad game Monday isn’t necessarily reason to panic, either.
The book is out on Foles. Give him time in the pocket and weapons, and he can pick you apart. Get him thinking too much and make him move his feet, and he’s prone to slumping.
But the nice thing about Foles coming off a bad game is he typically doesn’t let that carry over into the next one.
Almost every time Foles has played what could objectively be considered one of the worst games of his career, he’s bounced back with a solid performance. Ten times Foles has posted a passer rating below 70.0 in a start — seven times, he responded with a rating of 85.0 or better the following week.
All three exceptions were right in a row, leading to Foles losing his starting job with the Rams. Of course, Foles didn't have time in the pocket or the weapons he does with the Eagles, and until Christmas, he had played well in starts or relief appearances since.
There's still no telling whether Foles is good enough to lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs. However, basing that opinion on how he performed in one game seems faulty, when he's shown an ability to correct mistakes and adapt throughout his career.
In other words, don't be surprised if Foles comes through with a much stronger performance when the playoffs open in January. Time will tell whether it will be enough to take the Eagles anywhere, but don't count Foles out just yet.