The six degrees of Nick Foles

The story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season was supposed to be Chip Kelly, or Michael Vick, or Chip Kelly working with Michael Vick, or maybe a more wide-open NFC East, or something along those lines. Now, the story may well be Nick Foles, even though he’s definitely (maybe? probably?) not the starter pending the health of other QBs. (In fact, for Kelly, the issue is more about preventing overconfidence.)

Through two years, though, Foles has been pretty good: 19 TD, 5 INT, 62 percent or so completion percentage. This season, he’s thrown as many TDs as Tom Brady. The Eagles are 4-5, but upcoming are the Packers (sans Rodgers, likely), the Redskins, a bye, the Cardinals, the Lions, the Vikings, and then the Bears and Cowboys. It’s easy to consider them winning all the games minus the Lions before that meeting with the Bears. They have a legit shot to win the NFC East in Kelly’s first year, and it could well happen with Foles under center for a large portion of it.

Regardless of what exactly happens, Nick Foles is an interesting young man — and if he does get flipped for Vick, he could eventually become the next Matt Flynn (although hopefully with better results) or Matt Schaub (who backed up Vick himself, back in the Atlanta days).

Here’s a few people relevant to the Nick Foles ascension story, just for context.

Drew Brees: Brees and Foles both played at Westlake High in Texas; they both later played in the Alamo Bowl as college QBs, although Brees dominated said game, whereas Brandon Weeden upstaged Foles in his trip.

Kirk Cousins: Cousins and Foles were down on the Michigan State depth chart back in 2007. Foles transferred to Arizona, partially because of homesickness, and Cousins ended up starting. Cousins is now in the same division as Foles — as the backup with the Redskins — and many consider him in the same vein as Foles (good enough to start, but stuck behind elite, running-based QB talent). The other QBs on the 2007 Spartans were Brian Hoyer, who was the starting QB of the Browns this year before getting hurt, and Connor Dixon, who transferred to Duquense and became a WR, then got a shot with the Steelers and was ultimately waived.

Sonny Dykes: Dykes, currently the head coach at Cal, had recruited Foles to play at Texas Tech back in the day. Foles declined and went with Arizona State, then backed out of that when Dirk Koetter was fired, then ended up at MSU, then transferred to Arizona — because of Dykes, who was the offensive coordinator there at the time. Dykes and head coach Mike Stoops ultimately chose Matt Scott as the starter for Arizona initially, but Foles soon became ‘the man’ (Scott is currently on the Jaguars’ practice squad).

Juron Criner: Criner was Foles’ go-to WR during his time in Tucson. In fact, Criner is now on the Raiders, which means he was in the house for Foles’ 7-TD, 0-INT day last weekend. Criner’s numbers with Foles were pretty amazing, including 82 receptions (first in the Pac-10 that year) for 1,233 yards and 11 TDs in 2010. Then there was this catch:

Without Criner, Foles — despite the 6-foot-5 height — probably isn’t a third-round pick.

Bug Wright: Probably Foles’ biggest win in college was defeating No. 9 Iowa at home in the beginning of the 2010 season. It was 27-27 late when he found Bug Wright in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning TD.

Bug Wright got dismissed from the team eventually for a “chronic problem,” despite a one-time belief that he’d become the Wildcats’ breakout star.

Chip Kelly: This one seems logical, no? Kelly loved what he saw of Foles back in the Pac-10/12 days. Makes sense: Oregon beat Foles twice, but in 2010 the current Eagle QB hung 448 passing yards on ’em, and in 2011 he threw for 398, 3 TD and 0 INT. Kelly also saw his other backup / periodic spot starter, Matt Barkley, up close and personal in the Pac-12. He praises Barkley as “a student of the game,” and last year in LA, Oregon needed 62 points to beat Barkley, who threw for 5 TD and almost 500 yards. This is all a long way of saying that Marcus Mariota could somehow end up on the Eagles next year.

No one knows the exact future of Nick Foles, but he’s clearly proved himself capable of torching a sub-par AFC West team. The Packers’ defense isn’t tremendous, so he might be able to let ‘er rip this week too, if he gets the nod. That would bring the Iggles to .500, and at that point … is Michael Vick looking for a new home?

Foles is the man — for now. After all, in 40:26 last Sunday, he threw more TD passes than the Vikings (who have three NFL starters on their roster) and Jaguars (don’t ask) have all season. It’s his show for the time being. Let’s hope we can add people like Michael Vick, Pat Shurmur (Eagles’ OC), and some team they upset in the playoffs to this list before long. Oh, and this.

Ted Bauer