Nick Foles a litmus test for Matt Nagy’s offense
Foles’ history is pretty consistent: In a bad offense, he’s ineffectual. In a good offense, he’s a difference-maker. Sunday’s game against the Colts is a key test for Foles — and Nagy’s offense.
Nick Foles is not a miracle worker.
Last year with the Jaguars, Foles made his first start in 10 weeks against the Colts, replacing Gardner Minshew after recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered in the season opener.
He was good but not great — and unable to will the woeful Jaguars to a different level. He threw for 296 yards, with two touchdown passes — one in garbage time — one interception and a 92.2 passer rating in a 33-13 loss.
A year earlier, when he replaced an injured Carson Wentz in Week 14, he was statistically similar, but good enough to lead the Eagles to a 30-23 victory over the Rams that kept Philadelphia’s playoff hopes alive. Foles threw for 270 yards and had no touchdown passes, an interception and an 89.4 rating. The Eagles survived after a last-play incomplete pass at the goal line.
The following week, he was magnificent, throwing for an Eagles-record 471 yards and four touchdowns and leading a winning field-goal drive in the last two minutes against the Texans.
It was the continuation of virtually a careerlong trend for Foles. In a bad offense, he’s mediocre or ineffectual. In a good offense, he’s a difference-maker.
That brings us to Foles’ first start for the Bears on Sunday against the Colts at Soldier Field. It’s another test of Foles’ impressive resilience and performance as a replacement quarterback. But it’s a bigger test of coach Matt Nagy’s ability to do what he was hired to do — build an offense that a good quarterback can take to another level.
History shows it’s the offense that makes Foles a winner. Quarterbacks don’t come much more steady, even-keeled and unflappable than Foles. It’s not like his demeanor changes when he’s on the 2018 Eagles or the 2015 Rams. He needs a team he can win with.
The early returns were impressive last week, when Foles worked his magic. After getting two touchdowns nullified, he threw three touchdown passes in the last 6:20 to lead the Bears to a 30-26 victory over the Falcons. Foles’ passer rating was 95.1 — with a touchdown pass that was unexpectedly ruled an interception upon review.
Now Foles goes in with a full week of preparation, which figures to be a bonus.
“I feel really comfortable,” Foles said. “Going into this week, there have been a lot of great conversations. Even [against the Falcons], I felt more of myself when I stepped into that situation, just playing and getting to do things that I like to do in a chaotic situation. I’m definitely more comfortable than I was.”
If Foles’ performance against the Falcons was an accurate reflection of the Bears’ offense — that it’s closer to the Eagles’ offense than the Jaguars’ — the best may be yet to come. In well-oiled offenses, Foles has staying power — a 14-3 record with a 107.6 passer rating (36 touchdown passes, seven interceptions) in the regular season as an in-season replacement starter.
And in the second game as a replacement in those offenses — the situation he’s in against Indianapolis — Foles is 4-0 with ratings of 133.3, 86.3, 115.8 and 120.4 (12 touchdown passes, one interception).
So we’ll learn a little more about Foles on Sunday. And a lot more about Nagy’s offense.
“This week will be great to practice and get a preparation week and go through plays and study the plays and watch practice [tape] and fine-tune everything,” Foles said. “I’m hoping by game time, we’ve grown even more.”