From kid growing up in Austin, Texas to Philadelphia Legend: The Nick Foles Story
Written by Brandon Lewis on February 27, 2019
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Quarterback Nick Foles out of The University of Arizona with the 88th pick in the third round. The Eagles were the only NFL team to interview Foles during the draft process, and as it turns out the Eagles future Super Bowl would hinge on that decision.
The Early Days
Foles was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He attended high school at Westlake High School in Austin; the same school Saints great quarterback Drew Brees attended 10 years prior. In his high school career, Foles threw for 56 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards. At the end of his senior year, Foles committed to Michigan State.
The College Days
Foles only stayed at Michigan State for one season because of the level of NFL talent Michigan State had at that position, including junior Brian Hoyer and Kirk Cousins, who was also coming in as a highly touted freshman. Foles only attempted eight passes as a Spartan and moved on to Arizona starting with the 2008 season, which he redshirted. From 2009–2011, Foles went on to lead the Wildcats to an above .500 record every season and two bowl wins in three attempts. He finished college with a 138.1 QB rating and a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
When Foles arrived in Philadelphia in the summer of 2012, he was expected to not play the entire season. His job was to sit and learn behind veteran quarterback Michael Vick, and his veteran coaching staff which included Andy Reid, who was beginning his 14th season as the Eagles head coach, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson. However, things did not go according to plan for the Eagles as Vick suffered a concussion during the Eagles week 10 matchup at home in the second quarter against the arch rival Dallas Cowboys.
Foles entered the game, but he had to play catch up most of the game, and the Eagles lost 38–23 despite Foles throwing for over 200 yards off the bench and throwing his first career touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin late in the third quarter. The next week, Foles made his first start, and it was a disaster. The Eagles and Foles got thrashed by the division rival Redskins 31–6 in Washington. Foles threw for 0 touchdowns and two interceptions, and the offense never got going. With the Eagles season seemingly over after that game(their record was 3–7, and they have lost six in a row), Reid announced Foles would start the last six games in order to gain experience. Foles would only win one of those games.
On December 9th, 2012, in Tampa Bay, the Eagles beat the Bucs 23–21 on a game-winning touchdown drive by Foles with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Foles drove the Eagles down the field, converting third down after third down until he eventually hit Maclin in the back of the endzone on a sprint out pass as time expired to win the game. Foles finished his rookie year with only six touchdowns and five interceptions. He looked like a journeyman backup at best.
The Chip Kelly Era
When Chip Kelly was hired to replace Reid for the Eagles at the start of the 2013 season, Kelly said Vick and Foles would compete during training camp for the right to begin the season as the starting QB. Vick would significantly out play Foles, and Foles was forced to sit on the bench for the first four games of the season besides a few garbage snaps on September 29th when the Eagles were getting blown out by the Broncos in Denver. In the fifth game of the season in the second quarter, Vick would go down with a concussion, and Foles would enter into the game. Foles looked a lot more comfortable in Chip Kelly’s no-huddle system, going 16–25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Eagles to a 36–21 win; their second of the season.
Foles would start the sixth game of the season in Tampa against the Bucs in the same building where he made his first NFL start 10 months earlier. Foles played well, throwing for three touchdowns and no turnovers, leading the Eagles to a 31–20 victory. Vick did not recover in time for the week seven matchup against the Cowboys in Philadelphia, so Foles got the nod, but it did not go well.
In the second quarter near the goaline, Foles used his sneaky mobility to escape the pocket and run towards the endzone when he was struck by a Cowboy defender in the helmet. Foles got up whoozie and was taken to the bench by medical personnel. Foles would not return for the Eagles until week nine.
The Raider Game
On November 3rd, 2013, Nick Foles was healthy enough to start for the Eagles over Matt Barkley while Vick was still out. In his only game at the Oakland Coliseum, Foles threw for seven touchdowns, tying an NFL record and no turnovers. Foles would not relinquish the job again.
The Chip Kelly Era Part Two
After his magical performance, Foles would follow it up with a three touchdown game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Lambeau Field. Foles continued his hot streak all the way through the end of the season, leading the Eagles to their first NFC East Championship since 2010. He finished the regular season with arguably the best season by a quarterback in NFL History, throwing for a combined 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in 13 games.
In the Eagles first playoff game in 4 years, Foles showed up on a cold, Saturday January night against the Saints at the Linc, throwing for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz to put the Eagles up one with just under three minutes to go. Foles would leave the field with the lead, but he would leave the stadium with a loss when fellow Westlake High School QB Drew Brees drove the Saints down against an exhausted Eagles defense for a game winning field goal as time expired. Regardless, the future was bright for Foles and the Eagles. Foles magic had just begun.
Foles carried his momentum into the 2014 season, leading the Eagles to a 6–2 record in their first seven games in his first season as a full-time starter. But, Houston would change everything.
November 2nd, 2014, Nick Foles and his red-hot birds were walking into Houston looking to get back on track coming off their second loss of the season the previous week against the Cardinals. They got the W, but they paid the ultimate price. On the last play of the first quarter, Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus sacked Foles, and Foles did not get up. Foles cracked his clavicle on the play and left the field on a cart. Little did Foles and the Eagles know that Foles would not put on another midnight-green jersey for three long years.
On March 10th, 2015, Chip Kelly, who by now won a power struggle to take over the roster of the Eagles from Howie Roseman, traded away Foles to the St. Louis Rams for a second round pick and former number one pick Sam Bradford, a quarterback who was injury prone, and who did not fit Chip Kelly’s system. The move hurt everybody involved. Kelly was fired after the season, and Foles was miserable in St. Louis with his head coach Jeff Fisher making him look like the worst QB in the NFL arguably. Fisher throughout his coaching career, was known for not having good offenses, and Foles looked like his 2012 self again.
After the season, Foles was cut at his request, and as a result, he fell out of love with football. He almost retired. Him and his wife Tori took a camping trip in 2016, and Foles was prepared to return from the trip and announce his retirement from the league. Before he did though, he gave Andy Reid, his coach in Philadelphia his rookie year, a call, and Foles’ life would change forever. Reid convinced Foles to jump on a plane and join him in Kansas City as the backup to Alex Smith. Foles would play in two games for Smith, helping the Chiefs win both those games by throwing for three touchdowns and no picks. The old Foles was back, alive and well.
With the Chiefs drafting Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 draft, they no longer needed Foles to backup Smith. Foles as a result was released. After a few weeks of hearing pitches from teams, Foles was down to two teams: The Bucs and the Eagles. The decision was easy for Foles and Tori. Foles knew he had unfinished business in Philly, and he wanted to be coached by Doug Pederson again, the only man to talk to Foles during the draft process, and the only coach to show up to Foles’ pro day back in 2012. During the draft process, Foles and Pederson formed a special bond quickly. They talked a lot about football, but also a lot about family and faith. Both Foles and Pederson expressed their belief in Christ, and the conversation just took off. They knew they were destined to do something great together some day.
Entering 2017, the Eagles were looking for a backup quarterback for their superstar sophomore signal caller Carson Wentz. Doug Pederson, General manager Howie Roseman, who gained his job back after the Kelly firing, and owner Jeffrey Lurie all knew Foles from 2012 and thought it would be a perfect fit. On March 13th, 2017, number nine was back in town. The Austin, Texas boy returned to Philly with a two year contract, and he instantly became the most popular backup in Eagles history. Soon, he would become the most popular backup in NFL history.
December 10th, 2014, the Eagles came into the LA Coliseum knowing full well if they won the game against the Rams, they would be crowned NFC East Champs for the first time since Foles did it in 2013. Behind MVP candidate Wentz, the Eagles got out to a 31–28 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter, but the 31st point came with a price. Four plays earlier, Wentz got sandwiched between two rams diving towards the goaline. After the drive, Wentz would limp off the field, and he would not return. Foles closed the game out for the Eagles, and the team would celebrate a playoff berth and a division title, but Eagles nation was worried about their franchise QB.
The next day, it was announced Wentz suffered a torn ACL, and that Nick Foles would finish the season. The real drams would begin. The question around the league was could Nick Foles bring Philadelphia, a football city dying for a Lombardi trophy, its first World Championship since 1960? Foles would have four weeks to prepare for the post season.
He started off well, clinching the Eagles a first-round bye in the playoffs by throwing four scores in the Eagles 38–33 win against the Giants in New York. Eight days later, on Christmas Eve, Foles played terrible against the Raiders- the same team he threw seven touchdowns against four years prior-, but the Eagles defense forced five turnovers to keep the birds in the game. Foles would lead a game-winning drive, allowing kicker Jake Elliott to kick a field goal with 22 seconds left in the game to give Eagles fans the ultimate Christmas gift from Santa Clause: Home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Foles struggled in the quarter he played in the meaningless season finale against the Cowboys. With Foles and the offense looking horrible in the last two regular season games, the media doubted the Eagles ability to get out of the divisional round even though they were the top seed in the NFC.
Foles and the offense continued to struggle to begin the playoffs. The Eagles only scored 15 points against the Falcons, but unlike in the Saints game four years ago, the defense this time stood up for Foles. The defense stopped the Falcons high-powered offense four straight plays from inside the two yard line to win the game 15–10, and to advance to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2005.
The Eagles opponent for the NFC Championship game was the Minnesota Vikings; the team that had the NFL’s top ranked defense in the regular season, and the team that just came off the “Minnesota Miracle” seven days prior. In this game, Foles and the offense broke out of their slump, torching the Vikings for 38 points in a blowout, Foles throwing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns in the win. This game is when the nickname “Foles magic” was born. The NFL world realized on this cold, January night that Nick Foles was not walking off the field a loser; he was heading to the Super Bowl to face Tom Brady and the Patriots, the NFL’s dynasty over the last twenty seasons.
In the Superbowl, Foles was not faced by the big moment. He and the Eagles offense picked apart the Patriots defense just like they did with the Vikings two weeks before. Foles even caught a touchdown pass in the game in the now famous play called “Phillly Special”. The offense would put up 41 points, and Nick Foles was named Super Bowl MVP. The return was complete. Nick Foles did bring the city of Brotherly Love their first NFL championship in 58 years. it may have not been how Eagles fans dreamed of it back in 2014, but it happened. The little boy from Austin delivered for a city he now calls home. Doug Pederson admitted in his book Fearless: How an underdog becomes a champion that he did not know if Foles could bring the team home a Lombardi Trophy when Wentz went down, but once he got the chance to watch Foles’ 2013 tape with Chip Kelly(the year he threw for 27 touchdowns and two interceptions), he knew him and Foles could together do something special like they promised each other in 2012.
The Final Chapter In Philly
While the return was complete, there was still one more chapter to be written in Foles’ career as a member of the Eagles. Foles started the preseason, and the first two games of the 2018 season while Wentz was still recovering from his injury. Foles looked awful in the preseason, and in the regular season games, the Eagles went 1–1, Foles looking nothing like what he did in the Superbowl, throwing for only one touchdown and one interception. Eagles fans were worried they would not get any trade value for the guy who was now known as “the ultimate luxury” during the off-season. The Eagles did not trade Foles at the trade deadline, and it is a good thing they didn’t.
On December 12th, it was announced Wentz was suffering from a broken vertebrae in his back, and that Foles would finish the season. Eagles fans worldwide, myself included, had the same reaction, “Back to Foles, ugh!” There was no confidence in Eagles fans or the NFL for that matter that Foles could do the impossible again, but he tried. Foles would beat the Rams in Los Angeles on a Sunday Night, the Texans and the Redskins to get the Eagles into the playoffs. Over that stretch, “Foles magic” returned with Foles throwing six touchdowns and three interceptions, and him looking like playoff Foles vs weeks one and two Foles from earlier in the year.
Foles outplayed Mitch Trubisky of the Bears in his first playoff game, throwing for 266 yards, and two touchdowns, including the game winning score with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter on a fourth and one to Golden Tate. The play call was the same play Foles threw to Jeremy Maclin seven years ago his rookie year in Tampa Bay to win his first game as a starter.
The next week, for the second time, Foles and Brees would meet in the playoffs as the Eagles traveled to New Orleans to take on the top-seeded Saints. The Eagles and Foles jumped off to a red-hot start, outscoring the Saints 14–0 in the first quarter, but they did not score again. Foles went cold in the second half, and the magic officially died when his pass right before the two minute warning went through the hands of star wideout Alshon Jeffery and right into the hands of P.J. Williams of the Saints to end the Foles Era in Philadelphia.
On February, 27th, at the NFL Combine, Roseman officially announced Foles would become a free agent on March 13th, two years to the day when Foles resigned with the Eagles. Nick Foles’ story is one of the most amazing stories in the 100 years of football. From the tough rookie year, to the 27–2 year, to the broken collarbone, to the Rams saga, to possible retirement, to the return with Andy Reid, to the return to Philadelphia to deliver a Lombardi Trophy to Philly, as an Eagles fan, I just want to say Thank You Nick Foles. There’s a reason why there’s a statue of you asking Coach Pederson “You Want Philly Philly” during the Superbowl outside Lincoln Financial Field. There’s a reason why your a Philly legend. Your one of a kind, and I can not say thank you enough for all the years you gave us, not just the Superbowl.
Good luck in your future wherever you go!
Brandon Lewis is a sports coordinator for blacksquirrelradio. He hosts a show on blacksquirrelradio.com called Brandon’s World on Saturdays from 10 am-12 pm.