There really shouldn’t be discussion over who the Eagles’ starting quarterback will be going into next season, but nonetheless, it seems as though people are talking about it anyway. Will it be Nick Foles? Will it be Mark Sanchez? Will it be Marcus Mariota or some other rookie from the draft? There’s really only one clear choice for next year’s starting job and that’s Foles.
Foles definitely struggled this year compared to last season. Last year he put up record numbers of 27 touchdowns and two interceptions on the season, just unbelievable and unrepeatable stats. This year he started eight games before going down with a broken collarbone that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Mark Sanchez came in and started the next eight games, but the team failed to make the playoffs. While it wasn’t all Sanchez’s fault, Foles finished with a 6-2 record as a starter while Sanchez was 4-4. That’s a big stat that many people forget.
Sure, Sanchez had to play some tough teams such as the Cowboys twice, the Packers and the Seahawks, but he clearly played at an inferior level. He also lost to the Redskins, who were a terrible team this year and finished 4-12. That game essentially clinched that the Eagles wouldn’t be making the playoffs this year.
Sanchez did have a higher completion percentage, more yards, a higher passer rating and more touchdowns. So why would Foles be the clear cut guy? Sanchez doesn’t get the wins. He’s good enough to usually beat bad teams such as the Titans or Giants, but he had absolutely no shot against powerhouses like Seattle and Green Bay. The Eagles were at least still in the game for their losses against Arizona and San Francisco and almost won both had it been for things out of Foles’ control. Is Foles perfect? Nowhere near it. But he does have the edge over Sanchez.
Foles had offensive line troubles the entire time he was starting, there’s no doubt about that. He had to deal with a mix and match line every week and no run game, forcing him to pass more often. In eight games though, he was still only sacked nine times. Sanchez was sacked 23 times in nine games despite having almost the same offensive line for every game. His inability to escape pressure or just throw it away took away the Eagles’ ability to make plays with the quarterback out of the pocket. He was clearly still uncomfortable back there, even at the end of the season.
If the Eagles made the playoffs and won a playoff game, there’s no doubt that Sanchez would be in the running for the Eagles’ starting QB next year. But the bottom line is he didn’t. He struggled in the most important games and proved that he couldn’t lead a playoff caliber teams into the actual playoffs. Even when he was on the Jets in the playoffs, he was never expected to do much. All he had to do was throw the short pass and hand it off and watch the defense do the rest. Therefore, his career in Philadelphia will be one and done.
Philadelphia is looking for a franchise quarterback. Is Foles the guy? Unfortunately, after three years, that is still to be determined. He has shown flashes of greatness, but he’s also shown that he’s still struggling. He still has tons of room for improvement, but it would be ridiculous to give up on him after three straight half seasons. There’s no doubt that he has to cut down on the turnovers, especially compared to what the Eagles were used to last year when he barely turned it over. Thirteen turnovers in eight games is unacceptable. Will he improve though? Yes, if given the starting job again.
Foles is still under contract for 2015, and for a very small salary, so it makes a lot of sense financially to keep him. Sanchez is going to get interest from other teams who desperately need a starting quarterback and might want a veteran for now, such as Buffalo, who just saw their starting QB Kyle Orton retire after this season. Somebody will give him a big enough contract for him to switch teams again and he’ll do it, because he won’t have to really fight for a starting job. I don’t blame him at all, it’s what most guys would do.
Unlike last year when the Eagles were basically forced to keep Michael Vick and have him compete for the starting job due to his contract, they won’t have that problem next year. They can either draft a quarterback in the low rounds to compete with Matt Barkley for the No. 2 job, or they can just sign another veteran free agent to do it. My guess is they’ll draft someone, but don’t expect it to be someone in the first few rounds, especially not Mariota. Anyone who thinks it would be smart to trade everything for the chance at him is insane. There’s absolutely zero chance they get him. Zero.
While it seems like they may be “stuck” with Foles with no other options, that’s the best they’re going to do. He’s a solid quarterback that has still yet to play a full season. Give him another full offseason as the guaranteed starter again and build up his confidence, and make sure he stays healthy throughout the season. It’s easier said than done, but it can happen. This is Foles’ team and I don’t see that changing for at least 2015.