BELIEVE IT! EAGLES SUPE MVP FOLES HAPPY TO BACK-UP WENTZ!

So says NBC Sports’ Peter King:

If all goes well in Philly the summer, Carson Wentz will re-take the starting quarterback job he lost when he tore his ACL last December. That will make NFL history, actually. The guy on the wrong side of the equation knows it.

“First time in NFL history, right?” Nick Foles said, pondering his lot in life. “First time [for a Super Bowl MVP] to be on the bench the next year.”

There have been 53 Super Bowl MVPs. (Editor’s note: There were co-MVPs in Super Bowl XII.) If healthy and backing up Wentz, in fact, Foles will be the first of those players to be benched in Week 1 the following season. Of the previous MVPs, one (Roger Staubach, SB VI) was hurt starting the next year, one (John Elway, SB XXXIII) retired, and three (Larry Brown, Desmond Howard, Dexter Jackson) left their championship teams in free agency. But none of the previous Super Bowl MVPs who was active the following opening day ever began the year as a healthy scratch. Foles could be the first. It’s still too early to tell who starts the opener against Atlanta. The prognosis on Wentz to be in the lineup Sept. 6 is good, but he’ll need to show he’s totally mobile for the Eagles to put him on the field in 52 days.

foles-book

No matter how placid Foles is about it, no matter how much he leans on his faith, this has to hurt. I think it does, and I think he fights it a bit, after being with him on his recent tour to promote his book, “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure and Overcoming the Odds” (Tyndale House). But Foles also knows his contract’s up at the end of this season, and he’ll likely be the best veteran free agent on the quarterback market at age 30 in 2019. He’s seen the sick contracts handed to players who’ve accomplished less than a man who out-dueled Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and played great in big moments, to win a Super Bowl.

“I sort of look at it as this,” Foles said, his car taking him up the West Side Highway in Manhattan to a book-signing in New Jersey. “The good Lord’s equipped me to handle this situation. Are there gonna be moments where it’s tough because I’m a competitor? Yes. But that’s where I have to lean on my faith. There’s a lot of great growth that goes on with it. I’ll be able to show my daughter down the road that with these opportunities that arise, there’s trials, and challenges. I sort of get excited because it’s really gonna test my heart. It’s gonna test who I am.’’

The smart thing about Foles’ approach is that he heard the Eagles wanted two first-round picks in trade for him, and he heard Cleveland wanted him but couldn’t find an equitable deal with Eagles GM Howie Roseman. He’s fine with both of those things. Look at it this way: Maybe Foles could have signed a rich deal in Cleveland and been an NFL starting quarterback in 2018. Or he could stay in Philadelphia, make $7 million in 2018, likely be a backup quarterback on a defending Super Bowl champion, and then pick his team from a pool of maybe five or six teams (New England, Jacksonville, Miami, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay among them).

I know what I’d do. Foles sounds like he knows too.

“I’m very happy where I’m at,’’ he said. “Sometimes, if some team would offer two ones, it might not have been the best fit for me. I would love to enjoy my year in Philly, be a free agent next year—and I know I would love to play my entire career in Philly—but there’s something about being a free agent where you can choose where you want to go and the people you want to play for. The great thing about not being traded and being a free agent is you have a choice.’’

Three interesting things I found in Foles’ book, co-written with Joshua Cooley:

• The huge quarterback contracts gnaw at him. “It was hard to watch other players—quarterbacks in particular—sign massive contracts in the weeks following the Super Bowl. On a daily basis, I have to fight the internal battle to keep my priorities straight.” Kirk Cousins: zero playoff wins. Foles: three playoff wins—and a passer rating of more than 100 in all four career playoff games.

• The role of Frank Reich in rallying Foles from his lousy play at the end of the regular season in 2017. Reich, the former offensive coordinator now coaching the Colts, asked the Eagles video guys to put together a tape of all of Foles’ completions of 15 yards or longer in his prime Eagle years of 2013 and 2014; there were more than 100 of them. Foles said: “As I watched the film, something immediately stuck out to me: … I was moving in the pocket, scrambling outside it, and throwing the ball with different arm angles … It was a joy to behold. The seeds of a new beginning began to take root. I began to rediscover who I truly was as a quarterback.” Great coaching can bring out great playing.

• Foles apparently hated playing for the Rams so much in 2015 that it almost made him quit football in 2016, but you’d never know it by this book. “I barely recognized myself on the field that season,’’ he writes. He’s diplomatic and says nothing untoward about the Rams, but it sure seemed like he loathed the final Ram football season in St. Louis. “I don’t ever want to be disrespectful or throw anyone under the bus,’’ Foles told me, “because football’s a hard job. It was hard. I had to paint an accurate picture, but do it very elegantly. That chapter took a ton of work to make it just right to where it paints the picture perfectly but no one’s hurt. But it gives the reader sort of an idea.’’

The Eagles are lucky. No team in the NFL has a better quarterback situation in 2018 than Philly —and the Eagles should contend for the Super Bowl again in no small part because of that.

The opener’s 45 days away.

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