As the Bears try for a seventh week to figure out their offense under veteran quarterback Nick Foles, another city is pining for him.
Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre — a friend of Eagles coach Doug Pederson dating back to their playing days — said Tuesday on ESPN that the Eagles should have kept Foles over Carson Wentz after the 2018 season. Instead, they traded Foles to the Jaguars and, within six months, gave Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract extension. Wentz’s 73.2 passer rating currently ranks 31st in the NFL.
Eagles reporters asked Pederson about it three times Wednesday. Sports radio stations spent two days relitigating the move.
Asked Thursday why the debate has endured, Foles launched a full-throated defense of Wentz.
“I know it’s a topic of discussion,” Foles said, “but the guy’s one of the most outstanding players I’ve played with in my career. . . . The Eagles have a great quarterback in Carson Wentz.”
If Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky — a No. 2 overall draft pick like Wentz — were healthy this week, Chicago might be having a similar debate. That’s how bad the Bears’ offense has been since installing Foles as the starter in Week 4. Fans are left to wonder if, except for the fourth quarter against the Falcons, Foles left all his magic dust somewhere on Broad Street.
His next opponents, the Vikings, were victims of that magic in the NFC title game in January 2018. They scored five minutes into the game, and then the Eagles scored the last 38 points. Foles went 26-for-33 for 352 yards, three touchdowns and a 141.4 passer rating.
“He played great that night, as did their team,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He made some great deep-ball throws. It seemed like he converted on all the key plays throughout the ballgame. I think he did a great job of getting them in the right calls and plays and things like that as well. And he did it under pressure.”
The pressure is on this year, albeit in a different way.
“There’s always been a sense of urgency since training camp,” Foles said. “A lot of times, if you start holding tighter and tighter and tighter, it doesn’t get better, because then you can’t see everything clearly. We just have to keep working.”
In that NFC title game, Foles said, the Eagles carried energy from practice to the locker room to the field.
“That’s something that we can do is create energy to go out there and play at a level that can’t be controlled,” he said.
The ever-eager Foles has stressed the need to fix the offense with steady improvement in practice. But with each dud, that stance rings more hollow.
Coach Matt Nagy — a fellow optimist by nature — appreciates him chipping away.
“That’s one thing with Nick, I think you realize, is he’s not going to change a whole lot,” Nagy said. “He keeps things in perspective, and that’s probably a strength, right? [What] some of us have and some of us don’t have is staying positive and staying happy and understanding that sometimes we have challenges in life. And sometimes when you have challenges, how do you respond to it? Do you go into the dumps?”
Foles isn’t there yet. But he’s human. Asked if he ever goes home and screams into a pillow, he admitted to occasionally needing his wife to set him straight.
“You’re going to put everything into it if you care,” he said. “It’s your vocation, but you’re in there, you’re playing this game, you’re working.
“Part of sports is sometimes you hit a little losing streak. That’s part of it. Everyone’s true colors come out, so then you’re working through that.”