If you were to ask any coaches in the NFL, they would bite your hand off to be in the position of Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Reigning Superbowl Champion, solid on both sides of the ball, beat Belichick, Brady, and Patriots, making fans out of three-quarters of the known world in the process. They also have one of the toughest choices to make going into the new season. Who leads the offence. Carson Wentz or Nick Foles? The young sensation against the veteran winner.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of Gridiron, here is a brief recap of how we got to this point. Let’s start with Nick Foles; 29-year-old Foles is in the middle of his second stint with the Eagles. The team that drafted him with the 88th Pick in the 2012 NFL Entry draft from Arizona. After a year stint at Michigan State. Initially, Foles was the back up to Michael Vick, yes that Michael Vick. On week 11 of the 2012 season, Foles took the starting job from Vick. In 2013, despite again having to battle Vick for the job Foles went to the Pro Bowl, the NFL equivalent of the All-Star game. He was traded away to the St Louis Rams (RIP) for a handful of picks and injury-hit starting QB Sam Bradford. Only to see the Rams draft Jared Goff in the 1st round and request a move away. After a year in Kansas City primarily backing up Alex Smith, Foles returned to Philly and signed a 2-year contract. Primarily as the back up to Carson Wentz. So, you must be thinking who is Carson Wentz? Well glad you asked. 25-year-old Wentz (Yeah, Wentz is 4 years younger than Foles, but only came into the league in 2016. The Draft system can be weird, maybe we should write about it?) Was drafted 2nd overall in 2016. In that draft, many scouts couldn’t choose between Wentz and Jared Goff (remember him?) For the best QB in the draft, Goff went to the Rams, Wentz went to the Eagles. Now when Wentz joined the team, the Eagles were not a good football team. He was seen as one of the players set to turn the franchise around and boy did he. In 2017, Wentz led the Eagles to a 10-2 record heading into week 14 of the regular season (12 games + 1 bye week). Week 14 would see the Eagles travel to LA to take on the Rams. Jared Goff vs Carson Wentz, The “Teams who both had Nick Foles as a back up to 2016 Rookies” Derby. If that doesn’t catch on, I don’t know what will. This is where the battle for 2018 starting job truly begins.
During the game, Wentz leaves the field with a knee injury during the broadcast his return is listed as “Questionable”. Foles comes in and leads the team to victory, in the following days it turns out that Wentz has torn his ACL. ruling him out for the rest of the season and the postseason. Eagles look set to qualify as a top seed. Many commentators, us included wrote the Eagles off but as I mentioned earlier they won the Superbowl. Nick Foles finished as the MVP, Doug Pederson outcoached Belichick and the Eagles bought their first ever Superbowl home.
So you know the backstory, you know how the Eagles got here. The question is where do they go from here?
Being English, the cliché is that you never change a winning team. Things don’t quite go that way in American sports through, most season’s teams break up and players move on to pastures new. 8 members of the Superbowl winning roster have already moved on, with 2 more still deciding what their future holds. Safe to say, sentiment means little in the NFL. Just ask Malcolm Butler a previous Superbowl hero who didn’t play in against the Eagles and was cast aside by the Patriots in the off-season. So we don’t imagine Doug Pederson and the notoriously rabid Philly fan base, will keep faith in Foles if his performances don’t match the high levels that he set himself last season.
The makeup of the team around a Quarterback has such an impact on their success. Remember Tim Tebow and the miracle comebacks? Wouldn’t have happened if Denver didn’t rearrange their playbook to give him option plays. Russel Wilson is very mobile, so the Seahawks bring in players to try and give him time in the pocket to make things happen. Tom Brady is the GOAT, so all the Patriots need to do is have someone who can move a few yards and catch, they know Brady will get the ball to them. How have the Eagles built their team? Well having Jay Ajayi gives them a solid run game, Ajayi may not get be one of the true Elite running backs in the league but he is dependable and a powerful runner who is hard to bring down. His value to the team will only grow with LeGarrette Blount (yes, that’s his real name) moving on. Ajayi will surely be the number 1 Running Back for the Eagles. Nelson Agholor was Foles’ go-to receiver in the Superbowl, catching 9 times for 84 yards. He didn’t score but he was there Foles needed to make a play. Agholor will be the slot receiver by the looks of things with Alshon Jeffery (currently injured), who Wentz linked up with so well last season taking the number one receiver slot. Pro Bowler Zach Ertz had another good relationship with Wentz before we went down in LA. Bringing in journeyman Mike Wallace gives the offence a genuine deep threat that they were possibly lacking. Whilst Foles did well with this line up in the Post Season, this is clearly a team built for Wentz.
Let’s look at the numbers when you compare the games played by both men the first thing that jumps out is that Wentz has played almost half the games as Foles in just 2 years.
|Games Played||Games Started||Completed Passes||Attempted||Completion %||Yards||Average Yards||Touchdowns||Interceptions||QB Rating|
The averages for both men are very similar. Average yards 0.8 between them in favour of Foles. Completion Percentage Wentz has it by 1.4%. The QB Ratings again Wentz is 1.4% higher. If you were to look at these numbers, there is nothing to choose between the two players. However, what should be considered is, Wentz rookie year, he was playing for a rebuild team who has just come off of the second pick in the draft, they were a team that needed a QB and were always going to throw their rookie in at the deep end. Foles meanwhile hasn’t been a starter for a rebuild. Even when he was drafted, he was backing up a player in Michael Vick who is a totally different type of player. Carson Wentz before injury smashed 5 Franchise records in the 2017 season, he was on fire, he dragged the team up on his back. If he had a better supporting cast around him in his rookie year, we don’t think it would be close.
The variable, of course, is that knee. How strong will it be after surgery? How confident will Wentz be that is leg isn’t going to give out on him? Is he one hit away from the IR again? Sadly, there is no way to answer this until he is on the field. But if he is rusty, Foles could well find himself starting the season. If fitness is an issue then after the Superbowl, the job could well he Foles’ to lose.
Where do we fall on this? We think you have to go with Wentz, thank Nick for getting it done in the playoffs but this is Carson’s team. If the Eagles are going to get to their Big One again, he will be the man to take them there. We think what is most telling is the Nick Foles contract. It was restricted in the off-season, he makes a lower base salary, but is in for a big bonus payday if he gets the starting QB role.
So what do you think? Wentz or Foles? Can either man get the Eagles back to the Superbowl again? Comment, email or Tweet us with your thoughts.