Let’s get this out of the way first: Carson Wentz is a special talent, a better leader and the undeniable future of the Philadelphia Eagles at quarterback.
So long as he’s healthy, he is the man. Anyone who watched him pave the way for the Eagles to go win the Super Bowl in 2017 (it’s still true!) shouldn’t need reminded, but Wentz was the biggest reason Philly flew so high early this fall, if not the best player on the field most Sundays that involved the Birds.
But this column isn’t about defending Wentz, because Wentz doesn’t need defending. (For the rare skeptic out there who hollers, “Trade him! He’s injury-prone,” you only need to listen to anything that anyone in a position of Eagles power says to know that this team 100-percent believes in No. 11 long term.)
This column, instead, is about giving Nick Foles the respect he deserves.
Most of Philadelphia, I presume, has no problem whatsoever tipping its collective cap to the quarterback who just won the Eagles their first Super Bowl ever. But there also seems to be two camps of people who aren’t fully appreciating who and what Foles is after February — one camp whose position is more understandable than the other.
We’ll start with the “understandable” one: The fans who simply cannot fathom what Foles, as a championship-winning QB, means to the Eagles franchise and the city of Philadelphia. Anyone who had a hard time believing, when the clock hit :00 in Super Bowl LII, that the Eagles had actually done it probably falls into this camp. While Foles’ run was remarkable, it happened so quickly, so abruptly and at the most surreal stage of the season to even comprehend that Nick Foles — Nick Foles — just became the first Eagles QB to ever win a Super Bowl ring.
That kind of mentality, built on disbelief, can be reshaped over time, especially if the Eagles don’t happen to win another Super Bowl anytime soon. Eventually, whether it’s this spring, this summer, next February or five years from now, Foles’ name will finally hold prominence as part of a historic — maybe the most historic — team in franchise history.
The second camp, however, is far more troubling, if not downright narcissistic: The fans — or “analysts” — who seize every opportunity to discredit, downplay or move on from Foles’ monumental moment. Anyone familiar with the “experts” who tirelessly spat on Wentz’s “mechanics” or “air yards” or whatever else they could find in order to prop up narratives that had been proven wrong in 2017? How are they any worse than those who, due only to their own past critiques of Foles as a “franchise” QB, now refuse to let people admire No. 9?
Foles’ unique situation entering 2018 obviously made it inevitable that focus would turn immediately from the veteran’s Super Bowl-winning performance to his value as a potential trade chip. But there’s still a curious amount of effort among select Foles detractors — the ones who clamored for his ousting under Chip Kelly, celebrated his tumultuous St. Louis Rams career and then guaranteed he’d flounder this postseason — to (again) usher him right out of town simply because a few Eagles coaches had some nice things to say about third-stringer Nate Sudfeld or because he didn’t explicitly reaffirm what he’s said all year — that this is Carson’s team — in post-game interviews.
“What did Foles do to you?” is my question.
(“Besides win the Eagles a Super Bowl,” would be my follow-up.)
Look, this isn’t a campaign for Nick Foles to be crowned eternal starting quarterback in Philadelphia. (Please see the introduction.) But under-appreciating his title-winning efforts out of sheer disbelief is one thing — and under-appreciating them out of stubbornness is another. And when it’s a guy of Foles’ caliber we’re talking about, you’d think all of Philadelphia would run to defend him.
Whether or not a move elsewhere is likely and whether or not he actually gets traded, this is a QB who literally defined what Eagles football is all about, ignoring the critics, overcoming his failures and laying it all on the line for victory. This is a QB who has never once been anything but a consummate professional, deflecting praise onto the teammates he’s stood up for and the organization that supported him. This is a QB who, a day after doing what no other Eagles passer had ever done, erupted with humility. This is a QB who rewrote Philly sports history.
This is Nick Foles. And it’s time he gets the respect he deserves.