Eagles Could Do Worse Than ‘Capable’
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Perhaps no one understands the current Eagles plight better than Jack Del Rio, the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Del Rio, who is bringing his troops across the country for a Christmas night game against the 12-2 Birds, was piloting the 2016 Raiders to their best season since Rich Gannon wore Silver and Black.
It all went south in the fourth quarter of Week 16 against Indianapolis, however, when Derek Carr, a serious MVP candidate like Wentz was this season before going down in Week 14, went down when star left tackle Donald Penn, who had not given up a sack all season, got beat and the result was a broken fibula that ended Carr's season.
It also essentially ended Oakland's as backup Matt McGloin, who was with the Eagles in training camp this year, also was injured early in Week 17 against Denver, a loss that sent Oakland tumbling from the No. 2 seed all the way down to No. 5.
Rookie Connor Cook finished up during a 24-6 setback to the Broncos and went through the motions of traveling to South Texas and falling in the wild-card round to Houston, 27-14, a game in which Cook finished 18-of-45 with three interceptions.
Things are not quite the same as the Eagles have already cliched the NFC East and a first-round bye and will likely end up with the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, something that could happen as early as Saturday night if Minnesota loses to Green Bay.
More so, Foles is a much better and proven option as a backup and the Eagles aren't down to their untested third-teamer in Nate Sudfeld.
That said, Del Rio still understands what it's like to be oh so close to making a significant playoff run only to have the rug pulled out from under you at the last moment.
“That definitely helps," Del Rio said on his conference call with Philadelphia-area media when asked about the Eagles losing Wentz a little earlier and having some time to get Foles up to stepped before the postseason.
“And the fact that they have a proven guy who has won — what — 21-22 games in this league already, that’s important. You’re looking at a guy who has experience, good experience, and is off to a great start in his first opportunity last week.’’
That first opportunity resulted in four touchdown passes for Foles in a 34-29 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium last Sunday, his most since tying the NFL record with seven against the Raiders back in November of 2013.
“Carson is a tremendous player and it’s really a shame that he got hurt," Del Rio said. “I hate to see that. He’s a fine young football player who was having a tremendous year. But Nick is very capable. He’s got plenty of experience. He’s a guy who’s had many good starts in the league and has proved he can play at a high level. He’s very capable of running that offense."
Foles does indeed have significant starting experience, 37 career starts to be exact with 25 of those coming over his two stints with the Eagles. He led the NFL during his magical 27-and-2 year in 2013 with the third-highest passer rating in league history (119.2).
In other words, Foles is no McGloin never mind Cook and he remains a capable starter, something star center Jason Kelce affirmed.
“Nick is more than capable of being a really good quarterback in this league," Kelce stated.
That word "capable" also highlights the differences between the superstar [Wentz] and his backup [Foles, though].
“As long as the rest of the offense continues to do their job and guys continue to do what’s being asked of them, and we rally around him and give him an opportunity to succeed, I have confidence in Nick," he said. “...Nick’s proved he can play if the pieces are around him, if everything’s set up to put him in a successful situation. I think we have some good pieces on the offense. I think we have some really good players."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen