Nick Foles: From Perennial Back Up to Super Bowl MVP

Who doesn’t love when the underdog comes in and wins everything? This is exactly what the Eagles and Nick Foles have done in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles had an impressive season, even after losing their franchise quarterback to a season ending knee injury. Yes, that’s right, the Eagles won the Super Bowl with their backup quarterback. But this was no ordinary backup QB.

Nick Foles was a two-year starter for his high school football team. He threw for 5,658 yards and 56 touchdowns, breaking most of the school records previously held by Drew Brees. Foles initially committed to Arizona State, but due to a coaching change at ASU, and after dealing with a shoulder injury in his senior year of high school, at the last minute he decided to attend Michigan State. Foles only saw action at Michigan State in one game against Alabama-Birmingham in which he completed 5 of 8 passes for 57 yards.

Foles then transferred to the University of Arizona and was redshirted his freshman season. A redshirt can be issued by any NCAA athletic department to delay or suspend an athlete’s participation in their sport in order to lengthen his or her period of eligibility.

In his 1st year with Arizona, Foles battled for the starting spot on the depth chart with Matt Scott. Scott beat out Foles and was named the starter for the season opener. After struggling in a game against Iowa, Scott was benched and the following week, Foles got his chance. Foles started the rest of the season, completing 260 of 409 pass attempts for 2,486 yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

Foles was the unquestioned starter as a redshirt junior in 2010. Foles led his team to a 7-1 start, including a victory against #9 Iowa on national television. He finished his junior year with 3,191 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, despite missing two games due to a knee injury he suffered in a match up with Washington State.

In his senior season, Foles set career highs in most every category as he completed 387 of 560 passes for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns. Foles ranked first in the Pac-12 Conference and fifth among all NCAA Division I FBS players with an average of 352.58 yards of total offense per game. He also ranked second in the Pac-12 and 20th among all FBS players in total passing yardage.

After graduation, Foles was selected 88th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2012 NFL Draft. After signing a four year deal with the team, Foles made his NFL debut during the second week against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. Foles threw his first career touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for 44 yards and finished with 22 completed passes out of 32 attempts for 219 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Foles lost the ball in the last second of the game, as he was sacked and the Cowboys recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
He made his first career start in Week 11 against the Washington Redskins. However, Philadelphia lost by a final of 31-6. Foles went 21 for 47 passing for 204 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. Then head coach, Andy Reid, announced Nick Foles would start for the remainder of the year, regardless of when Michael Vick was able to return.

Foles received his first win as a starter in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Foles was dealing with a broken hand he had suffered against the Washington Redskins and was sidelined for the season finale as Michael Vick stepped back into the starting role.
The next season brought a new head coach in Chip Kelly who announced Foles would compete with Vick and newly drafted rookie Matt Barkley for the Eagles starting quarterback job in the 2013 season. Going into preseason, many people thought the job was clearly a two-way battle between Foles and Vick. Foles played average during preseason while Vick excelled past him.

On August 20th of that year, Foles learned Vick would start the season and he would once again be the backup. Foles got his chances, though, and in his third start of the season, he threw for seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, a perfect passer rating (158.3). In the game, he threw more touchdown passes than he had incompletions. Foles was awarded his second NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of the season for his performance vs the Raiders.

Foles finished the 2013 regular season with 27 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions, ironically surpassing Tom Brady’s 2010 season posting of 36/4 for the best TD-INT ratio in NFL history. Foles led the Eagles to a playoff game, the franchise’s first since 2010. Despite the Eagles loss, Foles was awarded the “NFL Greatness on the Road” award for his perfect game performance against the Oakland Raiders earlier in the season.

In the 2014 season, Foles broke his collarbone against the Houston Texans which led to him being put on the injured reserve, effectively ending his season. He was then traded in 2015, along with a couple of draft picks, to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Sam Bradford and a 2015 fifth-round pick. Foles signed a two-year, $24.5 million extension with the Rams in August 2015.

In November, after Foles had some shakey games, he was benched in favor of Case Keenum, ironically the same QB his Eagles took down in this year’s NFC Championship. Foles got his starting job back two weeks later after Keenum went out with a concussion, but Foles struggles worsened. Foles returned to his backup role when Keenum was cleared to play.

Upset that the LA Rams drafted quarterback Jared Goff with their first overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft, Foles requested- and was subsequently granted- a release in July 2016.

Foles then signed a two-year contract in 2017 to return to the Philadelphia Eagles to back up 2016 first-round pick Carson Wentz. During Week 14 against the LA Rams, Foles came in for Wentz who left the game with a torn ACL. Foles completed 6 of 10 passes for 42 yards as the Eagles won 43-35, clinching their first division title since 2013.
In December 2017, head coach Doug Pederson announced Foles would be the starter after Wentz was ruled out for the season. He started his first game of the season in Week 15 after Wentz was ruled out for the season and threw for 237 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 34-29 victory over the New York Giants.

In the Divisional round of the Playoffs, the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons 15-10, in which Foles completed 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards. This was the Eagles’ first playoff victory in nine seasons.

The Eagles made easy work of the Minnesota Vikings and cruised to victory in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings came in as 3-point favorites but were manhandled by the Eagles passing offense as Foles went 26 of 33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the league’s top-ranked defense.

In Super Bowl LII, Foles completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, 3 passing touchdowns and 1 interception. He also caught a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton, becoming the first player to both throw and catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, while also becoming the third quarterback to catch a pass in a Super Bowl. The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. For his outstanding performance, Foles was named the MVP of the game, a well deserved title for the underdog who came out on top.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback, and Foles proved not only he was a force to be reckoned with, but his team was also. The Eagles made sure losing Wentz was not the end of their season. The Eagles ended the regular season with a record of 13-3 and later extended it to 16-3 during the playoffs and after winning Super Bowl LII.