A half-hour or so after the Eagles' devastating 48-7 loss in New Orleans back on Nov. 18, Carson Wentz sat in a folding chair in the cramped visitors' locker room deep within the Superdome, still wearing his uniform. Elbows on his thighs, he stared at the floor.
To Wentz's left sat Nick Foles, his chair pulled up next to the starting quarterback after the worst game of Wentz's young career. Foles was speaking softly but emphatically into Wentz's ear, as reporters milled about.
"Just be there for him, just talk to him. There's no magic word," Foles said, when asked about that interaction. "Just be there, being a friend, understanding the situation. I've played a lot of football. I know the emotions of the game. … Just genuinely being there is important."
You remember Nick Foles. Super Bowl LII MVP. Philly Special touchdown-catcher. Unlike, say, Trey Burton, who threw that famous touchdown pass to Foles just before halftime, Foles did not parlay his time in the spotlight into a bigger role elsewhere (In Burton's case, Chicago). Foles still spends his days and portions of his nights at the NovaCare Complex, though Foles hasn't played, or been heard from publicly, in two months – since Wentz returned from knee surgery for the Week 3 victory over Indianapolis.
Of the last 20 Super Bowl MVPs, Foles has played less the next season than anyone except John Elway, the Denver Broncos quarterback who retired after winning Super Bowl XXXIII.
"There's a lot of guys in his position, the second Carson had a bad play or didn't play as well, there's so many guys that would jump on that opportunity to make it about them," wide receiver Jordan Matthews said this week. "Nick isn't that guy, that's not the type of spirit that's in him. As a fellow Christian, I personally am inspired by the way he's handled everything.
"Whenever I get out of sorts, or like, 'This certain thing isn't fair, man I wish things were this way,' I always kind of have to catch myself. You've got a guy who had all that success, as a Super Bowl champion, and you see how humble he is, day-in and day-out? I think everybody notices it, and it's something that really speaks volumes."
This is the dynamic many people puzzled over during the offseason, through the preseason, as Foles led a struggling Eagles offense. (Turned out, the foreshadowing there was strong.)
What would happen when the hero had to go back to the bench? What would the 2018 Wentz-Foles relationship be like? Was there a potential for strife, if things didn't go well in Wentz's return from ACL and LCL repairs?
Wentz has been good, but overall, things haven't gone well, at 5-6 with another make-or-break NFC East game coming up Monday night against Washington. The occasional radio talk show caller might wonder why Doug Pederson can't give Foles a series, or a game, with the offense struggling for rhythm, but you don't hear any of that from the locker room.
Foles has helped avoid the potential for strife by being nearly invisible at NovaCare since Week 3, unless you count the gigantic graphics detailing his heroics that wrap the walls in the main hallway leading onto the practice field. He doesn't sit at his locker waiting for reporters to ask him to second-guess Wentz or Pederson. Very rarely is he around when reporters are present.
"Football, it's a strange sport. It definitely is weird, not playing, but at the same time, I've been in this role, too," said Foles, who backed up Alex Smith with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. "You're always there, helping the defense in practice, helping Carson on the sideline, preparing in the morning with him. That's part of it. That's my role.
"I said coming into this, it's a unique role that really has never been done in the NFL, and I want to embrace it genuinely."
Foles didn't want to comment on what he thinks ails the Eagles offense, which has gone from high-flying last season – under both Wentz and Foles – to plodding this season.
"We have a great group of guys here that just continue to work through this thing," Foles said. "We've all gone through something like this in our lives. … That's the tough part about this game is, you've got to learn how to fix it."
Third quarterback Nate Sudfeld, asked if the situation seemed strange, said: "Maybe for any other quarterback. For Nick Foles, I think he's doing just great. That's why he's such a special person, special player because he truly cares about the team, he's not in it for himself, his own accolades."
Sudfeld called Foles "a great voice of reason."
The offensive linemen say they still depend on Foles' early morning mixing of the Bulletproof Coffee, which requires a blender, some butter, and a special oil.
Foles knows his shot's coming in free agency this offseason, right tackle Lane Johnson said. But assuming the rest of the season is quiet, it will be interesting to see how the market views Foles, who turns 30 in January, after a year of little activity.
Foles was invisible this time a year ago, as well. Then, on Dec. 10 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Wentz stretched for a third-quarter touchdown that was called back by a penalty, and he felt something wrong in his left knee.
"Nick's been great," Wentz said this week. "He's there as the backup quarterback, in his role like that, but he's definitely much more than that – he's a resource. He's been around the league for a while.
"He's always there to encourage and uplift, and that's something – I can't give him enough credit for the way he's handled himself, throughout really his whole time here. … He's just always there for me."
"Nick is a professional," quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said. "He comes in every day – same as Nate – they come in every single day and prepare, and if those guys are called upon at some point in the season – you know, it was this point last year, it was Week  last year when Nick was called upon to perform, and did a great job winning a game on the road, late in the game."
This is that time of year, it seems, all across the NFL. Chase Daniel, who also sat behind Smith in Kansas City under offensive coordinator Pederson in 2015, and then backed up Wentz in 2016, when Pederson took over the Eagles, apparently will try to win in place of starter Mitchell Trubisky for the Bears this week, for the second week in a row. Trubisky has a shoulder injury.
Monday night, Washington's quarterback will be Colt McCoy. Smith, who only missed one game in 2015-16 for the Chiefs, with Daniel and then Foles waiting on the sideline, suffered a gruesome leg and knee injury Nov. 18 against Houston. At age 34, his future is in doubt. The Redskins, 6-5, trail the Cowboys by half a game. They are hoping McCoy, at 32, can be their 2017 Nick Foles.
Last 20 Super Bowl MVPs, and their ensuing seasons
1999, John Elway, QB, Broncos: Retired after the game.
2000, Kurt Warner, QB, Rams: Started 11 games, touchdown passes dropped from 41 to 21, passer rating dropped from career-high 109.2 to 98.3.
2001, Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens: Started all 16 games, raised solo tackles from 107 to 112.
2002, Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Started all 16 games for the first time, raised touchdown passes from 18 to 28, passer rating dropped from 86.5 to 85.7.
2003, Dexter Jackson, S, Bucs: Moved to the Cardinals, where he started all 16 games, raised his interceptions from three to six and increased his solo tackles from 56 to 75.
2004, Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Started all 16 games, raised TD passes from 23 to 28, passer rating from 85.9 to 92.6.
2005, Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: Started 15 games, raised catches from 26 to 51, TD receptions from four to five.
2006, Hines Ward, WR, Steelers: Started 14 games, raised catch total from 69 to 74. Touchdown catches went down from 11 to six.
2007, Peyton Manning, QB, Colts: Started all 16 games. Threw 31 touchdown passes for the second year in a row. Interceptions went up from nine to 14.
2008, Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Started all 16 games, raised completion percentage from 56.1 to 60.3, interceptions dropped from 20 to 10.
2009, Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Started all 16 games, catches went up from 55 to 79, receiving yards from 821 to 1,248.
2010, Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Started all 16 games. Completion percentage dipped from 70.6 to 68.1, but passing yards went up from 4,388 to 4,620.
2011, Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Started 15 games. Touchdown passes went up from 28 to 45, interceptions went down from 11 to six.
2012, Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Started all 16 games. Passing yards dropped from 4,933 to 3,948, TD passes from 29 to 26.
2013, Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Started all 16 games. Touchdown passes dropped from 22 to 19, interceptions went up from 10 to 22.
2014, Malcolm Smith, LB, Seahawks: Played in 14 games, started only five, but hadn't been a full-time starter the Super Bowl year. Solo tackles went down from 34 to 27.
2015, Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Started all 16 games, raised TD passes from 33 to 36, passing yards from 4,109 to 4,770.
2016, Von Miller, LB, Broncos: Started all 16 games. Solo tackles went up from 30 to 62.
2017, Tom Brady, QB, Patriots, for the fourth time: Started all 16 games after starting only 12 the year before. Passer rating dipped from 112.2 to 102.8.
2018, Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: So far has started two games, but he started only three during the Super Bowl season. Completion percentage is up from 56.4 to 65.9.