Jalen Hurts’ sudden onset of illness just before kickoff Thursday night served to provide information we’d only assumed:
Joe Flacco is not an option.
Why? Because at the end of the first half, running the two-minute drill, Flacco took a sack; wasted 25 seconds at the line of scrimmage; then called timeout. On the next play, he threw an interception.
Again: Joe Flacco is not an option.
Not for the Eagles. Not as a viable backup. Maybe Flacco can be a third-string sideline philosopher. He’d make a great scout-team decoy; after 13 seasons, he’s familiar with every opponent in the NFL.
He cannot be asked to play against the starting personnel of any NFL club. And you know what this means.
The Eagles must trade for Nicholas Edward Foles.
It will be the best Act III since Hamlet.
Do not delay.
Do it today.
There’s a week before the final preseason game, in which Foles should surely play. There’s almost a month before the season opener at Atlanta. Foles must be ready to take over by Sept. 12. It will take at least that long to install the latest iteration of the Philly Special.
Can Foles be ready? Of course. He’s the Ken Jennings of football IQ. Nick’s got all the answers.
He’s a Super Bowl MVP. A Pro Bowl starter And, at 32, he’s never been better.
Just ask him.
“I feel great,” Foles told reporters earlier this month. “The version of me right now is much better than the version that played in the Super Bowl, I’ll tell you that.”
As long as the version of him isn’t Joe Flacco, the Eagles should pounce.
The Eagles’ backup quarterback will matter this season. It cannot be Flacco.
It’s gotta be Big Play Nick.
Foles currently sits third on the Bears’ depth chart, behind veteran Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields.
That mean’s Foles is expendable, and available.
Send the Bears a third-round pick, Howie Roseman. Send your jet to O’Hare Airport, Jeffrey Lurie.
Go fetch Foles.
You can afford it. In fact, you can’t afford not to.
Foles makes $4 million this season, but Flacco makes only $3.5 million, and $7.5 million is chicken feed for two backups. Rest assured: The Eagles will need their backup.
Hurts is mobile. He’s going to get hit. He’s going to get injured. He’s going to miss time.
Hurts is young. He’s raw. He will struggle. He will slump.
The Eagles should be good. They’ve got talent at tight end, on both offensive and defensive lines, at running back, and at wide receiver. They also play in the NFC East, which still stinks.
They’re paying fading stars lots of money: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Darius Slay, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz.
They cannot afford to waste 2021 on the faded arm of Joseph Vincent Flacco.
The numbers lie
Flacco finished 10-for-17 for 83 yards against the Patriots. These statistics do no justice to the exquisite awfulness of Flacco’s performance. It was a horror show.
He fumbled away the first possession. Yes, a shotgun snap from a backup center sailed over Flacco’s head, but, inexplicably, Flacco picked up the ball and tried to outrun the pursuing defenders. It was like watching Cowboy Joe West trying to outrun Usain Bolt.
Late in the first quarter Flacco missed DeVonta Smith, who’d run a vicious route. Then, as the play extended, Flacco threw to him — low, and short, and badly. The usual Flacco trifecta.
He then threw behind Smith, twice, early in the second quarter.
These were easy reads. Unmolested throws. Simple NFL plays, attempted without any real pressure.
Nick Foles Specials.
There are ancillary benefits to acquiring Foles.
Frank Reich was Foles’ offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 2017 and 2018, and new Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was Reich’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis in 2019 and 2020. So, Foles speaks fluent Reich. Whatever scheme Sirianni brought to Philly is just a Reich dialect. As such, Foles can help teach Hurts.
Finally, as a true and selfless Christian, Foles will neither covet nor resent Hurts’ position as the starter.
In Flacco’s undeserved defense, Eagles receivers dropped at least three passes Thursday night, but Flacco’s poor throws made even those would-be catches much harder than they needed to be. He hit Jalen Reagor late across the middle, which invited a jarring hit for the receiver. The Patriots also dropped an easy interception in the end zone.
Make no mistake: Foles is not anyone’s savior. He would not be coming back to replace Hurts. He should never have replaced anyone. Foles isn’t a starter.
Even in his finest hours, Foles was a short-term answer to long-term problems. That includes his Pro Bowl in 2013, his stretch run and Super Bowl MVP after 2017, and his playoff push in 2018. He has always enjoyed limited success as a limited product of systems tailored to his limited abilities. Given time to prepare, defenses always exploit those limitations.
That’s why Foles foundered in Philly in 2014, flopped in St. Louis in 2015, collapsed in Jacksonville in 2019, and, finally, disintegrated in Chicago last season.
It’s why Foles is the perfect backup quarterback.
The perfect backup for Philadelphia.