If you were a Wentz-apologist who recoiled at the thought of Nick Foles, last night must’ve been a pretty sobering experience.
Rather than locking on Ertz, Foles made proper reads—taking what the defense gave him—and didn’t force the ball into coverage (barring one bad interception). He made a conscious effort to spread the ball around on every possession, and he delivered on passes downfield that Wentz has struggled to connect on all season.
None of this is to say that Foles is better than Wentz. All things being equal, it’s not even a debate, we know Wentz is better. But the lack of a full, or even partial offseason because of knee rehab, combined with the recently discovered fracture in his back has made 2018 the most disappointing season of his career.
But for whatever reason, the culpability of Wentz in regard to our struggles have been understated by most fans. Any suggestion that the team should consider Foles was mocked at every turn—even as the evidence continued to mount in that direction.
Wentz’s footwork and mechanics have been shaky (at times), and his mobility hasn’t returned. I think these factors are forcing him to press, which is where the bad decision making comes in to play.
The common refrain had been pointing to the fact that his passing numbers are similar to last season’s near-MVP campaign—and they were for a while—but the product we saw on the field each Sunday told a completely different story.
In fairness, you can’t compare Wentz and Foles without acknowledging Pederson’s role in everything. It’s fair to say that in terms of game planning and play calling, the star presence of Wentz and his ability to carry an offense is easy to fall back on. Foles under center forced Pederson to re-focus and simplify his offensive approach.
Their commitment to the run game was vital to keeping Goff & Gurley off the field and shortening the game as much as possible. And rather than going pass-happy after Adams struggled—something they surely would have done with Carson—Pederson turned to Smallwood, who added a little juice to the running game that was missing in the first half.
Despite not having gaudy passing numbers, it’s hard to deny that the offense looked more comfortable under Foles than it had under Wentz.
And last night’s win obviously can’t be discussed without mentioning the defense. The front four and secondary had their best combined effort of the season. Goff was under pressure all night, and the trio of Douglas-Maddox-LeBlanc provided the best coverage of any combination Schwartz has used.
“The Ewing Theory” was in full effect; the absence of our star player forced auxiliary pieces to step up—though that’s not necessarily Wentz’s fault.
Truth be told we’ve always known the offense needed more balance than Wentz-to-Ertz. The foundation of last season’s MVP-caliber season was laid by a dominant running game and breadth of weapons to feed the ball to.
If it took Nick Foles to return our offense to those core principles, so be it.