Historians will note that the time was 5:23 pm on November 11, 2012. It was when Nick Foles took his first snap as the Eagles’ quarterback.
Michael Vick was forced out of the Eagles-Dallas game in the middle of the second quarter. He was hit by former Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims while throwing an incompletion, and then examined by trainers on the bench, and then walked into the locker room. The diagnosis was a concussion. The future was unknown.
Foles began warming up as Vick walked to the locker room. After several minutes of that, guard Evan Mathis -- a.k.a. The Last Lineman Standing -- went over and talked with the rookie. Even from a distance, you could tell it was a moment designed to calm down the rookie and to re-state the organization-wide hope that Foles is the future. Then the defense held and Foles entered the game.
It was 5:23 pm.
The future was now.
The Eagles lost, 38-23. Foles’ final numbers: 22-for-32 for 220 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also lost a fumble on a sack that was recovered for a touchdown. His passer rating was 85.4. Foles was pretty good and he was pretty lucky, except when he was pretty unlucky.
On one play in the third quarter, the protection held and he kept looking downfield until he spotted a wide-open Jeremy Maclin and hit him with a 44-yard touchdown pass. Good.
On another play, early in the fourth quarter, a short pass was intercepted by Dallas’ Anthony Spencer deep in Eagles territory, only to have the play overturned by a holding penalty called on Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne. The hold occurred approximately a half-mile away from where Spencer made the interception. Lucky.
On a third play, later in the fourth, he threw a little slant to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The ball was thrown a little behind Jackson, and it clattered off of his hands and was intercepted by the Cowboys’ Brandon Carr and returned 47 yards for a touchdown. Unlucky.
Good, lucky, unlucky, all of it. The Eagles held a 17-10 lead with 4:36 left in the third quarter. With 12:37 left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were winning by 31-17. It fell apart that quickly, and everyone had a hand: a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, a 78-yard punt return touchdown by Dwayne Harris, and the deflected pick-six by Carr. Offense, defense, special teams, all.
All of which leaves us with one question:
Was that it?
The Eagles are now 3-6. They have lost five games in a row. Their playoff chances are slim, even though the division-leading Giants lost another game Sunday. Everyone knows that the most important question hanging over the franchise right now is not so much Reid’s fate -- the record will decide that, and we know where that is headed -- but Foles’ future. If the Eagles aren’t going to the playoffs, they need to have a decent idea by the end of this season if Foles is a guy worth building around.
You want to respect the coaches and the players and the process. You want to give them every chance to succeed this season, because the truth is that the league really is ridiculously inconsistent, and the thing tends to be won not so much by the last team standing but the last team staggering.
So there is the desire, on the one hand, to play it out until it doesn’t make sense anymore. But there is the imperative, on the other hand, to find out about Foles.
Are they at the point where the imperative takes control? The doctors might be the ones who decide that. We don’t know anything about Vick at this point, and concussions are notoriously tricky bits of business.
This might be it, though.
Future, meet now.