On the road to the Super Bowl, even the most fine-tuned automobile can encounter some setbacks.
Sometimes the setbacks are nothing more than standard maintenance…an oil change or a tire rotation every now and then to keep the car driving smoothly.
Sometimes it may be something that requires a little more time and effort to fix, but still is nothing more than a temporary delay (a set of new tires comes to mind).
But if there are more serious matters, such as if the engine or transmission goes, suddenly what was a smooth drive to one’s destination suddenly becomes a major hassle, detour, or an altogether cancellation of one’s plans.
Carson Wentz, in only his 2nd year of quarterbacking the Eagles, was the engine of this football team. And it had been speeding down the “Autobahn” of the 2017 NFL season at warp speed, while others such as Jerry Jones and his car with the star painted on the side were in the slow lane looking on with envy.
At one time, it was Jones and his automobile which was revered on the highway. But now, while he does his best to keep his Mercedes looking shiny and new, the truth of the matter is that it is old and clunky, and always seem to be in the shop for one reason or another.
But I digress (as I often do). Surely, there are other key components that have helped to keep the Eagles in the fast lane. And even after some of those parts were lost for the season (Jordan Hicks, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles), the “replacement parts” all seemed to be of genuine quality, making the car hum without skipping a beat.
But this, my friends, is different. This isn’t just an ordinary part that can be easily replaced. The Eagles had been searching far and wide for this part for much of their history, and seem to have finally found it. But losing it puts a huge damper on what was an exhilarating win on the road against a very determined Rams team. It was a victory that not only gave the Birds the NFC East championship with three games still left to play, but also catapulted them back into the top spot for the conference, thanks to a Vikings loss to the Panthers earlier on Sunday.
On Wentz’s final play of his season, he stood in the pocket and waited, waited, waited, until he found Alshon Jeffrey open in the end zone. The quarterback actually had an opening to run it in for a touchdown…an opening he would have normally exploited and taken the ball in himself. Thinking back now, it was probably painful for him to move.
So the replacement engine has been installed and is ready to go. And while everyone is aware that it is not as good as the original, that does not mean that it cannot do the job.
Nick Foles has been here before. In 2013, it was Foles who led the Eagles to their last NFC East title, and did so while throwing 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.
But much like Thomas Dolby’s one-hit wonder, “She Blinded Me With Science”, the fear is that Foles could be a one-hit wonder on the football field as well.
After his breakout season in 2013, Foles threw 13 TD’s and 10 INT’s for the Eagles the following year before he broke his collarbone in mid-season and missed the last seven games. Still not bad numbers, but after he was traded for Sam Bradford before the start of the 2015 season, his stint as the then St. Louis Rams quarterback did not go as well, as he finished with more interceptions than touchdowns (13 INT’s vs. 10 TD’s), and was ultimately benched for Case Keenam, who is having his own career season with the Vikings this year.
The hope is that his lack of success in St. Louis was due to the team around him not being very good. Foles will now be the maestro for a team that has a lot of quality parts around him. And while he does not have the ability to elude the rush like Carson Wentz did, he still has good football smarts.
At the end of last week’s game, when the Eagles needed a first down to secure a victory, it was Foles who, on 3rd & 8, threw a pass to Nelson Agholor in a spot that only Agholor could catch it. And to his credit, he did. That is where the football smarts of Foles can shine through, especially when he is surrounded by skilled players around him.
Back in 1999, when the Rams lost starter Trent Green for the season in a preseason game, their coach, Dick Vermeil, stood in front of the media and announced, rather prophetically, that the Rams would “rally around Kurt Warner…. and we WILL play good football”. And they did, winning the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.
Is Nick Foles on par with Kurt Warner? Absolutely not. But Eagles coach Doug Pederson was basically relaying the same message to his team this week (minus the crying of course).
Carson Wentz is a huge loss for this team. But while Nick Foles is no Wentz, he WILL play good football, as the Birds win 31-13 this week against the Giants.
The engine has been replaced and the automobile is ready to go. And while the road to the Super Bowl just became a little more treacherous, it does not mean that the new engine won’t get them there.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:
Chargers at Chiefs 8:30 PM NFL Ntwrk (Sat)
Packers at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX
Rams at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX
Patriots at Steelers 4:25 PM CBS