Familiarity Led Foles to Pick Philly Over Tampa
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The last time I brought up the Butterfly Effect to Doug Pederson over the summer, I got a little chuckle out the head coach of the Eagles.
If you're a fan of both chaos theory and the NFL, however, you probably have already figured out that many seemingly unimportant ripples back in the offseason of 2017 resulted in a rather large difference down the road for the Eagles, one of them resulting in Nick Foles leading Philadelphia to a Super Bowl LII championship with an amazing run through the NFC Championship Game and against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the biggest stage in the game.
Perhaps in a parallel universe, they have a different reality, one in which Foles decided Central Florida was the better fit for him and his family as the backup to Jameis Winston.
As the Eagles start preparing to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday this is as good a time as any to point out Foles' future boiled down to Philadelphia vs. the Bucs before last season.
Plan A for the veteran quarterback was to stick with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs but when that option dissipated, the race came down to the two most-interested parties: Tampa with its weather, inviting tax laws and DeSean Jackson versus Pederson, Philadelphia and the familiarity that entailed to Foles.
"Both offers made it clear that they wanted me there to help improve the backup situation and mentor a young quarterback," Foles wrote in his book.
Current Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter was in the big chair at Arizona State when Foles was in the recruiting process after he shattered most of Drew Brees' records at Westlake High School in Austin, TX.
Koetter was ultimately fired before Foles ever started at ASU's top rival, Arizona, but the coach never forgot what he liked about the 6-foot-6 signal caller.
“I loved Nick as a high school player,” Koetter said on a conference call with Philadelphia-area media. “His athleticism, not only as a football player but as a basketball player. I’ve followed his career closely ever since. We tried to get him to come down here but that’s worked out well for him and we did great by getting (Ryan Fitzpatrick).”
The deciding factor was Tori, Foles' wife who was pregnant with their first child at the time.
"My wife at the time was really pregnant. That comes into account," Foles explained. "Do you really want to move somewhere where you know no one or go to a city you were traded from but know so many people and wonderful people?"
In short, the philosophy of happy wife, happy life and the fact that Pederson was Foles' first QB coach at the professional level landed the Eagles their backup QB and a player who ultimately morphed into the Super Bowl MVP due to the circumstance of Carson Wentz's injury.
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, he of the awe-inspiring effort versus New Orleans last Sunday, ended up as Winston's backup with the Bucs and got a chance to start three games, winning two of them.
This time Fitz is back in the saddle because of Winston's personal-conduct suspension so Foles would have gotten some time to show what he has with the Bucs. His jewelry box, however, would be much lighter.
Now it's Foles vs. Fitzpatrick.
The former coming off a dismal 19-of-34 performance for just 117 yards and a dismal passer rating versus the Falcons and the latter putting together one of his best performances over a 14-year career, a lights-out 21-of-28 effort for 417 yards and four TDs for a near-perfect 156.3 PR.
"Fitzpatrick has been around for a long time. He got hot, and New Orleans had a hard time getting him stopped. It was eye-opening to watch it for sure," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.
Foles got similarly hot en route to the SB last season and Pederson will be trying to unlock that equation by getting his streaky QB back into a rhythm.
"One, we could hurry up tempo. I think it's a good way to get the quarterback into rhythm," Pederson said when talking about helping Foles. "Then, early in games, find plays that are completion-type plays, that are kind of the no-brainer; you don't have to think a lot; you're not necessarily into the heat of the battle yet.
"You always have those types of plays in your game plan that are just -- the ball is out. Whether it's a quick throw or quick play-action or something of that nature that becomes a quick little completion play for the quarterback, [it] can help him settle in and get into the game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen