By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In the event that you had better things to do on one of the final evenings of summer, you might have missed out on what will likely be Nick Foles’ final action of the preseason for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was not good.
Facing the mighty Cleveland Browns, Foles was quite bad. He completed 13 of his 17 passes (hey, 76.5 percent, that’s good!) for 127 yards (why, that’s 7.5 yards per attempt, which is also good, what is the meaning of this?!) and zero touchdowns (oh) and … two interceptions (OK now it makes sense).
It was, of course, just a “meaningless” preseason game. But for one, with Carson Wentz’s status for Week 1 still shaky, it’s not something the Eagles would prefer to see. And secondly, it’s a continuation of a bad preseason thus far for the reining Super Bowl MVP. Foles didn’t perform well last week in Foxboro before exiting early due to a shoulder injury.
As a result, there’s some mass hysteria surrounding the defending champs. OK, that’s a stretch, but there is some real concern!
“I was displeased with what our first offense executed,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I’m disappointed in the offense. I don’t want to single out one player, so don’t put this all on Nick. I’m disappointed in the offense. It’s obviously not what you want in the third preseason week.”
Nope. It for sure is not.
“I’m just making some mistakes. It’s as simple as that,” Foles explained. “I’ve got to keep being critical of myself, watch some film, understand what’s going on. I have to keep playing, going through it. Obviously, I haven’t been myself and I expect a lot of myself but I’ve got to keep looking at it, keep learning. I’ve played this game a long time so I know how to address this and just keep moving forward, keeping that positive outlook.”
It is, of course, only the preseason. And Foles is not expected to be the Eagles’ starter for most, if any, of the upcoming season. But, because a lot of football fans in the New England region are loudly hollering, “WHERE WAS THIS VERSION OF NICK FOLES IN FEBRUARY YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME MY BLOOD IS BOILING I CAN’T EVEN SPEAK IN COMPLETE SENTENCES AND YOU JUST KNOW I HAVE ZERO TIME FOR PUNCTUATION,” I was a little bit curious to see how reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks typically perform in the following preseason. Is it difficult to really focus for a game that is so much less important than the last one you played? Or do the general good vibes from February tend to carry over through the summer?
Ultimately, whatever these past MVPs did in the preseason won’t really properly predict anything about Foles or the Eagles this summer. But, again, in the interest of satisfying some curiosity, here’s a ranking (based on passer rating, sue me) of the preseason performances from reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks since 2002.
Aaron Rodgers, 2011: 37-47 (78.7%), 395 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 130.1 rating
Tom Brady, 2017: 18-24 (75%), 241 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 128.6 rating
Peyton Manning, ’07: 31-40 (77.5%), 331 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 126.1 rtg
Drew Brees, 2010: 32-50 (64%), 331 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 96.3 rating
Tom Brady, 2004: 29-44 (65.9%), 374 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 96.2 rating
Eli Manning, 2008: 16-30 (53.3%), 184 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 94.3 rating
Eli Manning, 2012: 32-51 (62.7%), 299 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 77.2 rating
Joe Flacco, 2013: 32-42 (76.2%), 344 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 76.0 rating
Tom Brady, 2002: 41-65 (63.1%), 482 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 76.6 rating
Nick Foles, 2018: 16-26 (61.5%), 171 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 48.7 rating
Tom Brady, 2015: 10-22 (45.5%), 107 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 37.5 rating
How you want to look at the depends if you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of a person. On the negative side of the ledger, ranking 10th out of 11th is not exceptionally bueno, no matter how you slice it. Being the only one out of 11 to not throw a touchdown is not encouraging. Neither is having the second-fewest yards, the third-worst completion percentage, and the second-fewest completions. Not a lot to feel great about.
But … but … you could look at that list, scan right to the bottom, and notice that a putrid preseason by Tom Brady in 2015 didn’t stop him from having an exceptional season of quarterbacking. Very few people, if any, probably even remember that Brady stunk up the joint when he played at New Orleans and at Carolina in the summer of 2015. But he sure did.
Brady was, at the time, scrapping and clawing with the NFL in federal court at the time, so perhaps his attention was diverted away from the field. Nevertheless, that was a preseason to forget for Brady. But the quarterback ended up having an exceptional season, throwing for 4,770 yards while throwing 36 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He and the Patriots made it as far as the AFC Championship Game in Denver, before the lack of healthy and productive receivers caught up to them.
(Unrelated to the matter at hand, but since 2014, playoffs included, Brady has completed over 65 percent of his passes, throwing 157 touchdowns and 35 interceptions, winning two Super Bowls, and losing in another Super Bowl. The Patriots are 57-14 in Brady’s last 71 starts. Why am I telling you this? Well, because I did the math, and how selfish would I have been if I just kept that to myself? It’s called having manners.)
So, having a rough couple of weeks in August surely shouldn’t doom Foles or the Eagles. Plus, as has been stated, Wentz looks to be on track to be the Week 1 starter.
But, if you were watching Foles make bad decisions and throw red-zone picks to the Browns, and if you wondered, “Hey, does the Super Bowl MVP usually do that?” then you now know that the answer is a big fat no.