Just like last season, the Eagles will enter the playoffs with Nick Foles as their starting quarterback.
If any questions remained about whether Foles’ injured ribs/chest would keep him sidelined for the opening-round playoff game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday or whether Carson Wentz would return to begin the postseason, they were answered Monday when coach Doug Pederson announced Foles would start.
Pederson added that Foles was “feeling good” on Monday morning, when the quarterback underwent a medical evaluation. Although Pederson would not reveal the diagnosis or severity of the injury, it will not keep Foles from playing Sunday.
“Everything was good,” Pederson said. “It was clear.”
Pederson did not offer any update on Wentz, who missed the last three games with a back injury. Pederson also would not discuss who would start at quarterback if the Eagles advance past the Bears, focusing only on this week because “there is no guarantee we’re going to win this game.”
“I’ll evaluate next Monday,” he said.
The Eagles’ plan is to go into the Bears game with Foles as the No. 1 and Nate Sudfeld as the No. 2. (When asked if Sudfeld will be the backup, Pederson said “as of right now.”) Sudfeld entered the Eagles’ last two games in relief of Foles, so it’s conceivable he’ll be needed again – especially if Foles aggravates an injury that left him sore following both wins.
The Eagles will not have a full practice until Thursday; they’re off Tuesday and have a walk-through Wednesday. That will give Foles a chance to recover.
Pederson said the Eagles would take care of Foles and make sure he’s ready for Sunday, although no changes are expected in how practice snaps are distributed between Foles and Sudfeld.
“I would anticipate a normal week for both those guys in that capacity,” Pederson said. “It’s hard to say until we really get to Thursday.”
It’s no surprise that the Eagles are sticking with Foles, as long as he’s healthy. Foles played well the last three weeks – all high-pressure wins – and the nebulous timetable for Wentz’s return allows the Eagles to avoid a controversial decision.
Foles went 28 of 33 for 221 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception Sunday. It came one week after he set a franchise record with 471 passing yards. In five starts this season, Foles is 4-1 and has completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 1,413 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions.
It also helps that Foles has big-game experience, including a scorching postseason run last winter that led to a Super Bowl MVP award. Foles also started the Eagles’ lone playoff game after the 2013 season, when he left the field with a lead in a loss to the Saints. In four postseason games, Foles has completed 71.9 percent of his passes for 1,116 yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception.
Foles, who is aware that he’ll unlikely return to the Eagles next season, said he’s motivated to play because he wants to “wear that jersey one more time and hopefully more.” When asked what he’ll take from last year’s playoff run, Foles repeated his mantra of staying in the moment.
“It’s a big stage, it’s the playoffs, we’re going to go against one of the best teams in the NFL at their place,” Foles said. “When I simplify things like that last year, it helped a lot. And I’ve learned a lot more since. So going to pull on everything I know to get ready this week.”