Ok, I have to admit. I didn't really want Nick Foles to be a success in Philadelphia. Matter of fact, I didn't think he had it in him. But as the wins continue to pile high, only a fool would continue to hesitate in giving the man his props. There are times when a franchise achieves moderate success, with a certain type of player, and becomes sold on a certain mold. For the Philadelphia Eagles, the dual threat quarterback has been entrenched in its very identity since Randall Cunningham carried those anemic Eagles' offensive units on his back during the Buddy Ryan era of the late 80s and early 90s.
The chunky soup-sipping talents of Donovan McNabb even carried the Eagles to four NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. So it was only natural that Philly fans expected Michael Vick, who shares some similarities with the aforementioned signal callers, to at least sniff an NFC championship.
However, even as Vick and McNabb were ironing out the wildcat wrinkles in Andy Reid's annoyingly cutesy offense, fans were already yearning for a more traditional signal caller who didn't cause miniature heart attacks to his own constituents whenever he broke contain. If you listened to the digital din closely you could almost hear the chants, "We want the white boy! Put in the white boy!"
The chants weren't coming from team CEO Jeffrey Lurie, or anyone of merit. But they were out there and Mike's detractors were vocal and easy to find. Despite his ability to play through pain, Vick has proven to be injury-prone and allergic to big game victories. Couple that with an offensive line that was among the league's worst over a three year span, it appeared as though the man was being set up to fail.
Reverberations were sustenance for anonymous trolls and sports radio sycophants alike. Unintentionally, I too added to this noise with my own stance on the situation.
Michael Vick's unfortunate legal issues pertaining to dog-fighting charges, as well as his prior image of thuggery, underpinned some folks' opinions of his on-field acumen that affected some Philly fans' stance on his role as a team leader. I felt those assertions were unfair because he had paid his debt to society. Also, off the field incidents and on the field play rarely correlate. But even when it began to be apparent that an aging dual threat quarterback is something of a liability in the NFL, I stuck steadfastly to my guns in support of Vick.
Even as the injuries and losses continued to mount memories of Vick traipsing through opponents' defensive secondary almost at will held my out dated opinion firmly in place. I felt compelled to root for the demise of any and every white quarterback that was brought in. Was it racism? Perhaps. Prejudice would be a better term. This was also due in part to how some media outlets seemed to invent quarterback controversies during Vick's entire tenure in Eagle green. I cackled at the demise of such great white false hopes as Kevin Kolb and Mike Kafka were exposed as fodder for rabid defensive linemen while showing the poise of a dandelion in a hurricane.
QB Nick Foles appeared to be of the same ilk as the other "traditional" quarterbacks who had come before him. He went 1-5 with a 79-passer rating in 2012, and looked easily rattled in the pocket and shell-shocked-just as Kolb and Kafka often did. But what a difference a year makes. No one in this universe could possibly be more surprised than me after expecting the Philadelphia Eagles' to match last season's 4-12 record.
Foles looks like the best thing in Philly since Norm Vanbrocklin in the pocket. Do I really need to go over these stats? He's first in the NFL with a 125.2 passer rating, first in yards per passing attempt with 11.08, first in passing TD percentage with 9.7 percent of his passes leading to touchdowns, and first in yards per completion. A cannon arm, laser accuracy and veteran decision-making from the pocket are all things that he not only excels at, but is now among the very best in the league at doing so. A NFL record-tying seven-touchdown performance versus the Oakland Raiders.
After a head-scratching performance versus the Dallas Cowboys, Foles now has the Eagles knee-deep in bloated expectations after leading Philly past the surging Arizona Cardinals on Sunday with three touchdowns. Some have even inserted his name into the MVP conversation. I cannot say he isn't playing on a MVP level. But to place him firmly in that class alongside Tom Brady and Peyton Manning is slightly premature after only six starts this season. But his career arc is off the meter at his current trajectory and the Philadelphia Eagles are in an unexpected fight for first place. This all makes it hard to spot a player who has been more instrumental to the success of his team than Nick Foles.