By Kevin McGuire
The second Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury, there was never a doubt the Philadelphia Eagles would play out the remainder of the season with Nick Foles at quarterback. There was never really another realistic option, and this is why Foles was signed to be a backup in the first place. But after a couple of less-than-inspiring performances as the starting quarterback in the final regular season games of the year, the Eagles will enter the playoffs with a sizable question mark about the state of quarterback play.
To be clear, replacing Wentz after the MVP season he had at the 11th hour is no easy task. Having Foles as the backup is one of the best backup plans any NFL team this postseason has—with the possible exception of the Minnesota Vikings.
Foles fared just fine in his first start for the Eagles this season when he passed for 237 yards and four touchdowns against the New York Giants. But that was the Giants, a franchise about to draft second in the NFL Draft next spring after a dreadful season. Foles completed 19 of 38 pass attempts for 163 yards and just one touchdown against the Oakland Raiders, and in his brief appearance in the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, Foles completed just four of 11 attempts for 39 yards with an interception. With the stakes about to be win-or-go-home, it’s more than fair for Eagles fans to be concerned about the performance of Foles as the Eagles stay home for a bye week and await their NFC Divisional Round opponent in the playoffs.
For head coach Doug Pederson, there is no reason to make a drastic change now. Pederson understands the value of the quarterback position, naturally, but he also knows there is work to be done at every position if the Eagles are going to take advantage of potentially hosting two playoff games at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Nick just has to continue to work, continue to detail his work, keep leading this football team,” Pederson said this week, according to PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “He’s the guy. He’s the one we’re going to look for and lean on. At the end of the day, this is a team sport and it’s going to take everybody to rally and to get the job done.”
There is no backing down from Pederson. He’s committed to going forward with Foles, who has previous starting experience and has been the top backup for Wentz all season long. He may manage to survive two games, or it may result in failure, but it is the most sensible and logical decision for the coach to make. That said, Pederson knows it is his responsibility to put the team in the best possible position to win, and that may lead to a quarterback change during the game. That may not be a likely option, but Pederson won’t not shut the door on that possibility if things start to look desperate.
The Eagles will either win in the postseason or lose in the postseason as a team, and not just by what Foles does in the playoffs.
“It’s not about Nick,” Pederson said. “It’s about the whole team. That’s how you win football games – as a team. That’s our focus.”
The Eagles will host either the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers or the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:35 p.m. ET.