Backup quarterbacks don't throw seven touchdowns in an NFL game.
Nick Foles looks like an aberration next to some of the other passers who've achieved that historic feat, including Peyton Manning, Sid Luckman, Y.A. Tittle and George Blanda. Those guys defined the position as much as they played it. Nick Foles? Isn't he just filling in for Mike Vick?
What are we to make of the fact that Foles had a season's worth of highlights in one afternoon?
Sure, there's reason for skepticism. Remember Doug Martin around this time last year? The Tampa Bay dynamo rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders and vaulted himself into fantasy football lore. Since then, Martin has been good but not that good, so maybe the Raiders' defense has as much to do with Foles' numbers Sunday in Oakland as Foles does.
Then there's the Chip Kelly offense, which is known for putting up stratospheric stats at Oregon and, to some extent, this season in Philadelphia. Maybe it's the system finding a groove and Foles being the beneficiary.
Yet Foles' achievements have been dismissed for years. He went to the same high school as Drew Brees – Westlake High in Austin, Texas – and broke the future Hall of Famer's high school passing records. Still, much like Brees, he wound up leaving the state. Foles went to Michigan State and then transferred to Arizona, where he lost a quarterback competition to Matt Scott (now a Jacksonville Jaguar) in part because Foles wasn't much of a runner. That's one of the first clues to why Foles hasn't been seen as the next big thing: he's more or less a traditional passer.
Even after starring as a Wildcat, he found himself in Philadelphia (where he was picked in the third round) in much the same spot as he was in Tucson: behind a quarterback who could run and throw. That didn't stop him in college, and it might not stop him in Philadelphia.
[Photos: See the 7 touchdown game]The other issue with Foles is his presence. Namely, he doesn't have much of one. He comes across as quiet, thoughtful, humble. Those are all strong qualities for a student of the game, but quarterbacks are expected to be more boisterous. Or at least more animated. Foles' longish hair and his surfer dude vibe don't scream charisma. On the field, though, and especially in difficult situations, the game around him tends to slow down to his deliberate pace.
The best example came in Foles' first career win last December in Tampa, in which he threw a 1-yard, game-winning touchdown to Jeremy Maclin as time expired. That was heady enough, but it was actually Foles who came over to then-coach Andy Reid and called the play.
"He wanted that last play," Reid said that day. "He called it, he wanted it, and he executed it."
[Photos: Best of NFL Week 9]
Teammates raved about the new guy, saying "the sky is the limit" and "we don't look at him as a rookie." On that last-minute drive, Foles threw a pinpoint pass that wasn't even in the game plan.
Then Foles broke his hand and the momentum was temporarily lost. Until Sunday.
It would be hard and somewhat sad to let go of the Michael Vick era. He has a terrific redemption story, he fits the Kelly offense with his speed and his arm, and the way he handled the Riley Cooper controversy during the preseason was nothing short of inspiring. Cooper was a star on Sunday, and he might not have even been on the team if not for Vick. That's the influence and respect No. 7 holds in that locker room.
But it could be that Foles' time has finally come. No, he's not nearly as quick as Vick, yet Kelly understands the value of smart decisions and Foles seems to be very good at making them. He sure made more than a few on Sunday.
Backup quarterbacks don't throw seven touchdowns in one game. It's time for a second look at Nick Foles. And the second look might convince us that he should have received a closer first look.
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