The Sports Daily > Eagles Eye Blog
Breaking on through to the other side is a tough call for Eagles…

You’d think at 13-2 you as an Eagles fan would finally have it made… but noooo! That stinking pee-pee poo-poo monkey is still on our back!

I like the monkey, he’s been riding on my back and inside my Jeep for so long he’s become rather compatible. He’s older now but still smart. Now he’s whispering in my ear as we drive along “You can’t can’t get there with Foles.”

What is he talking about?

I try to drown him out by turning the CD player up in my 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited with the rebuilt engine and transmission. “Rebuilt” is the key word. My Jeep has no memories of the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in 2005 or the loss to the Cardinals in the 2008/09 NFC Championship game.

The track I play is the Doors’ “Break On Through To The Other Side”.

“You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side, yeah

We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
But can you still recall
The time we cried
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

C’mon, yeah!”

C’mon, indeed. But wait! We lost our door-buster QB! It’s now up to backup Nick Foles to fill in for Jim Morrison…I mean, Carson Wentz…

That’s like asking Sammy Hagar to fill in for David Lee Roth. And that’s kinda where we are right now looking ahead to the upcoming playoffs.

Van Hagar was okay, but Van Halen was the tops.

So the question I asked the monkey today was—can Van Hagar win a Super Bowl?

His answer between nibbles on my Tastykake Koffee Kake was: “Can Van Hagar win a passing contest with Geno Smith?”

Ugh. That hurt.

Look, I think that Foles can get it together with the footwork and the timing over the next two weeks. At least sitting at 13-2 gives you that cushion of extra reps in practice, as Beano from Australia accurately points out.

The real problem is the game speeds up even faster in the playoffs. The recognition of separation between a target receiver and a defender, or the onslaught of a pass rusher, recedes into a smaller dimension of reaction. It becomes the season of the wildcat, not the deer. Nick Foles is more deer than wildcat—he needs a wide protected view of his adversary. He is not adept at sidestepping head-on hunters.

That’s okay. So if you’re the head zookeeper, you devise a presentation of your prize buck deer. You put him in a showcase where he gets to snort and snuff and kick up some dirt, but the dirty work gets done by the razorback hogs you set up in front of him. They’re the ones that fend off the big cats. They keep their friendly buck pal clean.

Okay, I’m going somewhere with this, thanks for your patience.

I don’t want Nick Foles looking wistfully to the sidelines for the playcall. I don’t want to see him checking the wristband on his arm to make the playcall. I want to see Nick Foles staring down the wildcat predators pre-snap and making his own call. And I want the razorbacks having his back.

I truly think this dream of a season (W-L speaking) only evolves into a Super Bowl appearance if Nick Foles is allowed to evolve into his own playcalling element.  Turn off the headset radio. Unleash the deer!

This is not a knock on Doug Pederson’s handling of Nick Foles. Actually, yes, it is. Doug wants to be the little brain inside of Nick Foles’ skull. “Don’t screw up”, “Take the sack”, “Get ’em next time”, “Throw it away!”, “Run the trap play, just as good as a screen!”…

I don’t blame Foles for his occasional foul play, I blame Pederson. Doug has castrated this quarterback. And what is Foles’ crime? Well gee, he’s just not the natural wildcat-type animal that Carson Wentz is, he’s more of the cloven foot type, like a deer or a giraffe, so we have to fence him in…

Have you ever seen a bull or a cow or yes, even a deer, stand its ground against a perceived predator? It’s pretty remarkable. Left to their own devices, these surprisingly athletic animals can hold their own in a determined show of controlled fury. They are only defeated when they are outnumbered—or confused.

That’s my beef with Coach Doug at this point—he sends in plays which leave Foles outnumbered in a pass-rush situation, and which are confusing the hell out of his pass-pro blockers and his second-read receivers.

If the Eagles have a scramble-drill set up for Foles, I haven’t seen it yet. And that is on the coaching staff, not Foles. When Foles rolls out in his limited mobility to escape a rush, there is no one there to bail him out. They didn’t have to plan for stuff like that with Wentz, who would buy escape time with his legs.

I get it, Foles is not Russell Wilson, nor Joe Namath, he is not Steve Young, he is not Carson Wentz.  But he is not stupid and he studies film. He has seen the NFL clouds from both sides now. If you’re a veteran like Foles, you should be given the keys to drive the car, instead of sharing the wheel with a driving instructor. What is this, his 6th year in the NFL? A 22-16 overall record as a starter? Maybe it’s time to unleash the deer and let him stare down the lion. And if he can’t read stuff pre-snap at this stage in career, and still has to rely upon Doug Pederson’s sometimes lame scripted calls, maybe we should be finding that out right now. But I would rather believe Nick will do much better if given the freedom to make his own decisions from here on in.

I seem to remember the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl 5 back in the day when Earl Morrall (a journeyman backup with a skill-set similar to Foles’)  filled in for Johnny Unitas—and then he did it again, filling in for an injured Bob Griese and getting the Miami Dolphins to Super Bowl 7.

I also seem to remember Earl Morrall was given the freedom and respect to call his own plays.

Maybe I’m being too old-school in this thinking, but if you’re stuck with a veteran backup QB as your only hope to break on through to the other side, you ought to at least consider setting him free to play the game the way he wants to play it and the way he sees it in front of him.  The rest of the team responds to that kind of natural leadership, too. They historically rally around the deer. Spoon-feeding the deer from the sidelines generally gets you a well-fed dead deer.


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