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January 07, 2019

What they're saying: Are Eagles lucky or good — and what does future hold for Nick Foles?

Eagles NFL
010719_Tate-TD_usat Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate celebrates with teammates Lane Johnson and Nelson Agholor after scoring the go-ahead touchdown against the Chicago Bears.

As it turns out, it wasn't entirely Cody Parkey's fault.

The Eagles' dramatic 16-15 win over the Bears in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs was decided in the final seconds when Parkey's 43-yard field goal attempt hit not one, but two posts before falling to the ground and sending the Birds on to New Orleans for a matchup with the Saints. 

After the game, it was revealed that defensive tackle Treyvon Hester actually got a piece of the former Eagles' kick. And on Monday, the NFL officially changed the call from a missed kick to a blocked kick. Unfortunately, it was too late for Parkey, who was booed off Soldier Field.

Either way, the Eagles' shocking upset of the Bears paved the way for a rematch against the Saints, who blew out the Birds earlier this season. And when those two teams meet, it will give New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara a chance to back up his trash talk from the summer, when he said the Saints would've blown out the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season.

Well, he didn't use those words exactly. 

Kamara says he got over the game fairly quickly but was frustrated to see the Vikings allow 38 unanswered points in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, who defeated the New England Patriots two weeks later in Super Bowl 52.

"We'd beat the shit out of [the Eagles] cause we was rolling," Kamara says. "If we won [versus Minnesota], I knew nobody was gonna stop us cause we came all the way back."  [MORE]

And that's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying, by taking a look at what the Saints have to say about the Eagles...

From the front lines

Josh Katzenstein | NOLA.com

Saints coach Sean Payton isn't looking past the sixth-seeded Eagles. After all, they are the defending champs and the hottest team in football right now...

“They’ve kind of been in a playoff role really going back to those games needing to win to get in, so it’s impressive,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Payton said the Eagles are playing well situationally, noting their success in the red zone on both sides of the ball. Backup quarterback Nick Foles has also given the Eagles a spark after replacing the injured Carson Wentz for the final three games of the season.

“I think they’re a different team than we faced, obviously, earlier in the year,” Payton said. “A different quarterback is playing right now. I think there is a confidence that you see.”  [nola.com]

Break out the dog masks

Adam Stites | SB Nation

While the Saints may not be sleeping on the Birds, Vegas seems to be discounting them. Just like last week, the Eagles are the biggest underdogs heading into the divisional round.

Philadelphia isn’t very good on offense, and — for most of the 2018 season — looked subpar on defense. Foles is scoring points now, and the Eagles defense has straightened things out a bit. But now, they’re off to face the No. 1 seeded New Orleans Saints on the road.

That’s a notoriously difficult place to visit and come away with a win. The Saints were No. 3 in scoring offense and they’re the No. 2 team at stopping the run.

Earlier in the year, the Saints destroyed Wentz and the Eagles, 48-7. So it’s not surprising that Philadelphia is already the biggest underdog of the Divisional Round:

For the Eagles’ run at another trip to the Super Bowl to continue, they’ll need the defense to slow down an offense that few have managed to slow, and they’ll probably need Foles to have a huge day.

But that’s pretty much the expected outcome at this point, right? The Eagles are the underdogs again — despite being Super Bowl champions — and apparently that makes them unstoppable.  [sbnation.com]

Eagles aren't lucky; they're good

Glen Macnow | Metro

SportsRadio 94 WIP Morning Show host and PhillyVoice contributor Angelo Cataldi wrote about how the Eagles appear to have received some divine intervention. Fellow WIP host Metro columnist, Glen Macnow, disagrees... 

Listen, I don’t believe teams win these games because of karma. Or luck. Or a roster boasting more churchgoers.

But I do believe good things happen to good teams. And these Eagles are a damned good football team. They beat the Bears not because they’re blessed, but because they earned the breaks.

Take Parkey’s field goal attempt, for example. Watch the slo-mo replay and you’ll see Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester’s gloved left hand get up there to tip the ball, ever-so-slightly affecting the trajectory. It wasn’t fate that made Parkey fail. It was a big play by the Birds...

Spectacular, beautiful finishes have been our new normal, Philly fans. Who’s to say there aren’t a few more coming our way?  [metro.us]

Ol' St. Nick

Jeffri Chadiha | NFL.com

This is the point of the story where Nick Foles begins to dominate the discussion... 

It's gotten to the point where Foles can't really do anything that blows our minds anymore. If anything, he's making another strong case for why the Eagles are in such good hands when they have to rely on him.

"Nick is Nick," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "He's going to stay calm. He's going to stay collected. Just very efficient. It wasn't pretty at times. (He had) the two turnovers early in the first half, which could've led to some points. But he hung in there and he did some good things."

This game essentially summed up everything the Eagles have come to expect from Foles. He didn't fall apart after throwing those two interceptions in the first half, even though one of those turnovers -- an ill-advised, off-balance throw that Bears safety Adrian Amos picked off after Foles tried to hit wide receiver Nelson Agholor in between four Chicago defenders -- should've made Pederson's head explode. Foles simply shook off his mistakes and set his mind to moving forward. His teammates, in the process, kept believing good things would happen.  [nfl.com]

Should he stay or should he go now?

Kevin Seifert | ESPN

On Sunday, our own Evan Macy wrote about why Foles' time in Philly is all but guaranteed to be over after this season. Simply put, they just can't afford him. But, with how well the team plays behind him, can the Eagles really afford to give him up?

There was a time when Foles' performance with the Eagles seemed a perfect, if short-term, storm. That stage has passed. How many big games do the Eagles need to win with Foles before the conversation becomes sticky?

I think we're getting there -- if we aren't there already. Special things happen when Foles puts on the green and white. There has never been a quarterback in NFL history who has won a playoff game in consecutive seasons despite starting five or fewer games in each of those regular seasons, according to Elias research. In other words, backup quarterbacks never accomplish what Foles has.

So at the very least, the Eagles would be parting ways with a playoff-tested quarterback who has played at an unprecedented level when pressed into duty for two consecutive seasons. Is that smart team-building?

The objective answer is no, but reality might leave the Eagles with an imperfect choice. They can control Wentz's rookie contract for two more seasons. Foles, however, has a rare mutual option in his contract for 2019, meaning the Eagles can keep him if they want to pay out a $20 million salary. And even if they do, Foles can void the option by returning $2 million of his original signing bonus.

It's difficult to imagine the Eagles giving up on Wentz or wanting a $20 million backup quarterback. Nor does it seem likely that Foles would return just to sit when he almost certainly would have multiple options to start elsewhere. But he already has learned the fallacy of greener grass; he nearly retired after a failed run as a starter for the St. Louis Rams in 2015. Foles might be the rare player for whom a backup job in the right place is preferable to a starting role in a bad environment.  [espn.com]

The right man for the job

Bill Barnwell | ESPN

This is an interesting take on Wentz vs. Foles... 

Let me be careful with what I'm about to say. I don't think Foles is a better quarterback than Carson Wentz, in a vacuum. I don't think the Eagles have a better shot of winning the Super Bowl with Foles at quarterback than they would with Wentz. I don't think the Eagles should do anything that gets in the way of keeping Wentz as their quarterback for the next decade, even if the Eagles win a second consecutive Super Bowl with Foles under center.

I do wonder, though, whether Foles was the better option of the two for this specific matchup against a terrifying Bears pass rush. Whether it's the offensive line improving, the game plan building in extra protection, or Foles' instincts (or most likely a combination of the three), he has done a better job of avoiding sacks than Wentz. And while they have roughly similar pressure rates since the start of 2017, and get the ball out about as fast as one another, Wentz has been sacked on 6.2 percent of his dropbacks; Foles is at 3.8 percent.  [espn.com]

Foles = Clutch

Danny Heifetz | The Ringer

"He is death, the destroyer of worlds." [Insert crying laughing emoji here.]

Foles’s pass with less than a minute left in the game was the latest fourth-down playoff touchdown to take the lead since at least 1994, which is as far back as the data goes. Foles finding another Tate (acquired at the trade deadline for a third-round pick) was a credit to the Eagles’ front-office acumen. Pederson eschewing the chance to get the ball back and choosing to focus on the fourth-down attempt showed his ability to dominate by living in the moment. Foles earning $1 million in the win because his contract has incentives for leading the Eagles on another Super Bowl run showed that he is a legit living legend. And the Bears kicker following up the Eagles’ drive by doinking a ball off of the upright and the crossbar showed that Foles can bend time, space, and the magnetic fields that span the axes of the earth. Convincing the front office to keep him over Carson Wentz this offseason should be easier than, I don’t know, winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

Foles was already a Rocky-like cult hero to the Delaware Valley diaspora for leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl last year. Taking over again this season, upsetting the Rams on Sunday Night Football, winning what’s likely his final home game in Philly, and then leading the Eagles to a playoff berth in Week 17 cemented his legacy when he could have been dismissed as a fluke (so, you know, Rocky II). But after collecting yet another playoff victory, this time against the best defense in the NFL, Foles can be considered among the most clutch athletes pound-for-pound in any sport. He is Robert Horry. He is Mariano Rivera. He is death, the destroyer of worlds. And he’s heading to New Orleans for the divisional round.  [theringer.com]


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