BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — There won’t be quarterback controversy, exactly, in the wake of Nick Foles’ Super Bowl MVP performance, in which Carson Wentz’s backup became the first QB to lead the Eagles to an NFL title since Norm Van Brocklin.
But as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed Foles the Pete Rozelle Trophy Monday morning and Foles held the shiny orb aloft, it sure seemed fair to say there will be intrigue. Some bumpy territory to navigate, and maybe a tricky decision for Howie Roseman, should some team decide that a 29-year-old, relatively low-mileage QB with a brand-new Super Bowl ring, who completed 72.6 percent of his postseason passes this year, for 971 yards in three games, with six touchdowns and one interception, compiling a 115.7 passer rating, might be a better answer to its problems than taking a shot in the draft.
That 72.6 percent completion rate? Higher than any postseason mark ever compiled, among QBs with 75 or more attempts, except for Troy Aikman and Joe Montana.
The Eagles currently lack a second- or third-round draft pick. Actually, they almost have a second-rounder, since their first-round selection the evening of April 26 in Arlington, Texas, will be 32nd and last.
Can you risk trading Foles, with Wentz rehabbing ACL and LCL injuries that assuredly will sideline him into August, at least? Does Foles, badly burned in that 2015 go-save-the-Rams adventure with Jeff Fisher, really want to start over again right away with another struggling team that might not optimize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses the way Doug Pederson does?
The answer, in one sense, is simple: If you’re Roseman, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER THE BLEEP YOU WANT BECAUSE YOU JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL FOR THE CITY THAT WANTED IT MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!
There will be no second-guessing of anything the Eagles do for a while. At least until Week 3 or so.
But I would say that, since you have in fact won the Super Bowl, you can take the long view. Wentz, scheduled to start weight-bearing exercise this week, might not be ready Week 1? Fine. Play Nate Sudfeld. Big whoop. In the long run, which is trying to win another championship, a second-round pick might be more valuable than a Week 1 win.
Of course, Roseman certainly doesn’t have to trade Foles. It’s a blessing for him that Nick is Nick. At no point in the spring or summer are you going to hear Foles say, “You know, I’m the guy who won the Super Bowl, so maybe I ought to get a chance to see where I can take this.” He will be gracious and humble, as he was Monday, as he was Sunday night, even as the confetti fluttered about his ears.
“I’m fortunate to be the MVP of this game, but as you’ve seen this year, we’ve had so many different MVPs throughout the course of this season, different guys stepping up. … It wasn’t necessarily me, it was everyone around me that did an amazing job,” Foles said Monday.
“No I haven’t,” Foles said, when asked Monday if he has considered how his horizons might have changed. “I’m not really worried about my future right now. I’m grateful to be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles. … I’m staying in the moment. … There’ll be a time and a place to handle all that. But I take a lot of pride in wearing the Philadelphia Eagles jersey. And I just enjoy being here. It’s such a great team. I’m excited for Carson Wentz, coming back healthy. I get to work with him every day — the dude’s a stud. I’m just livin’ in the moment, I’m not thinking ahead.”
That was a really good answer, better than the one Pederson gave, which probably sounded more open-ended than the sleep-deprived coach intended, when he was asked about having his Super Bowl MVP return to being a backup.
“We’re just gonna enjoy this moment,” Pederson said. “We’re gonna enjoy it, we’re gonna get on this plane, go back to Philadelphia, we’re going to celebrate with our fans back in Philly. We got a long offseason. Really, a short offseason, now. [But] we’re just gonna enjoy this moment.
“I’m happy for Nick. I’m happy for the team. It’s not about one guy. It’s about the team. … We’re gonna enjoy these next few days.”
That was all fine, but since the question contained the phrase, “open quarterback competition,” maybe Pederson could have said a bit more. It’s possible he did not want to stain Nick’s big day, that he felt it was easier to just punt.
Pederson said he spoke with Wentz Sunday night. “Just told him to take this in, just enjoy this moment. He’s a great quarterback, and he’s a big reason — I told him, ‘You’re a big part of why this team won this championship and won this game.’ I told him, hopefully, we’ll be back in this game, with him leading the way.”
Wentz, like Foles, has gone out of his way to avoid rocking the boat. That won’t change, but something has changed. Foles won the trophy Wentz was brought here to win. When Wentz was playing like a league MVP, before going down in Week 14, this accomplishment was going to be a cornerstone of his legacy. Now, when he does come back and take over, if he DOESN’T win the Super Bowl, as sure as talk radio sells ads for lawyers who target divorced dads, someone will mention the fact that, well, ya know, that other guy won it.
It’s hard to imagine that Wentz, deep down, isn’t at least a little conflicted. Maybe in the long run, he can look at it as Foles having taken some of the pressure off him — Wentz will not carry the burden of those 57 championshipless years, when he next takes the field.
But these are all matters to address down the road. Monday was Nick Foles’ day, and this is Nick Foles’ week, at the very least. And the guy who once won the Pro Bowl MVP as an Eagle, then was traded for Sam Bradford a year later, is such a compelling figure.
As usual, Foles was asked Monday about his wife, Tori, and his daughter, Lily, both of whom accompanied him to the postgame lectern Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“My daughter won’t know anything that’s going on — she’s 7 1/2 months old — but just to look in her eyes, the world slowed down,” Foles said Monday.
He was asked what people should take from his journey.
“I think the big thing is, don’t be afraid to fail,” said Foles, whose father, Larry, made a restaurant chain fortune, lost it in the 1980s, then rebuilt it. “In our society today, Instagram, Twitter, it’s a highlight reel of all the good things. … You think ‘Wow,’ when you have a rough day, your life’s not as good as that, you’re failing. Failure’s a part of life. That’s part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? … I’m not perfect. I’m not Superman.”
Maybe not. But he was for a few hours Sunday evening, and will be forever, whenever the highlights are played.
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