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Monday, August 27, 2012

“Foles Fever” is Really Nothing New

          Brad Goebel.

          Bobby Hoying.

          The Detmer brothers, Ty and Koy.

          A.J. Feeley.

          Kevin Kolb.

          And now, Nick Foles.

          I really don’t understand how people keep going down the same road, but once again Eagles fans are swooning over a backup quarterback. Foles wasn’t even the backup quarterback a few weeks ago.

          Maybe guys my age have stopped calling the sports talk shows. We certainly had our turn at being in love with the guy who was going to be wearing a baseball cap on the sideline come the regular season. No doubt older fans smirked at us the way we should be smirking at those in love with Foles. Maybe we’ve been replaced on the phone lines by guys too young to remember the laundry list of quarterbacks the Eagles have trotted out during the preseason who fans couldn’t wait to crown future Pro Bowlers.

          I understand that a pocket passer is like an endangered species in Philadelphia. Ron Jaworski was the last Eagles quarterback who started for a significant amount of time to fit that description. The beloved Birds have had a few has-beens or never-was pocket passers go through town who attempted to fill the role of starting quarterback – Jim McMahon, Bubby Brister, and a few others who have gleefully slipped my mind.

          With every coach since Buddy Ryan brought in Rich Kotite as offensive coordinator, there has been an insistence that the organization would run the vaunted “west coast offense.” Yet, not once in that time has the franchise had a legitimate starting quarterback who could even come close to actually running that offense properly.

          Randall Cunningham.

          Donovan McNabb.

          And recently, Mike Vick.

          Like it or not, those three guys have been the mainstays at quarterback for almost the last three decades. (Vick may not qualify as a mainstay yet, but he’s certainly closer to fitting the description than others who have passed through town.) All three were known as running quarterbacks, before and, in the case of Cunningham and McNabb, after they were given the job of running the Eagles west coast offense. Vick will not break the “after” trend.

          In fact, while I freely admit I may be missing someone, Kevin Kolb was the only guy fitting the description of a pocket passer who was even brought in to take over as the long-term starting quarterback – and he was a second round draft pick, not a first round guy.

          I’m not even suggesting that the three mainstays listed above were or are terrible quarterbacks. Used in the right way, I think Cunningham would have been – and was at times – very, very good. We never really got to see McNabb play well outside of Philadelphia, so it’s harder to judge him, but for a long time I thought he would have been better off in a different system. By the time he got that chance, he was done. I’m not all that sold on Vick’s passing skills in any system.

          So, maybe Eagles fans deserve credit for rushing to judgement on guys like Foles. They’re desperate for the right quarterback to be in the system the Eagles have run for almost 30 years.

          Foles may even be that guy. As of last night, preseason statistics had the Eagles leading the league in passing and Foles leads the team in that category. Overall, he was 4th in the league in passing yards. Also in the top five on that list were Matt Ryan, Chase Daniel, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson. There are fans in New Orleans and Seattle who couldn’t pick out Daniel and Wilson in a lineup – and they play for the Saints and Seahawks, respectively.

          Preseason stats just don’t mean a damn thing. Foles basically hasn’t played against a real NFL defense yet. In the first two games he was playing with and against a lot of guys who will never even play in a NFL regular season game. Last week, due to a scheduling quirk, he was playing a team in Cleveland that the Eagles open the season against. So despite the fact that he started, he wasn’t really going against a typical defense as neither team wanted to show any more than their basic schemes.

          Even if none of that were true, nobody was ever inducted into the Hall of Fame on the basis of preseason statistics. Guys don’t even get drafted in fantasy leagues based on their summer stats. These numbers are forgotten by the Monday before the regular season opens.

          Guys my age don’t create twitter hashtags (unless we have something to promote) much more than we call into sports talk shows. At least I hope not. But #FolesFever is catching on little by little with Eagles fans on the social media site.

          Odds are good the fever will break once Vick throws a touchdown pass – in the regular season.

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