NFL free agency does not officially open for 10 days, but the market for the top quarterback appears to be settled.
According to Les Bowen of philly.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars are essentially the only suitor for Nick Foles, and expect to sign him when the free-agent period opens March 13. The Jaguars have already begun to set up the structure of a contract, according to the report.
Other potential quarterback-needy teams do not appear interested in Foles. The New York Giants are sticking with Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, and there has been no indication that the Washington Redskins or Miami Dolphins are set to launch a pursuit of Foles.
Jacksonville has been the first and only team consistently linked to Foles, and the Jags have been considered the favorite to sign him. Foles should provide the Jags with stability at quarterback after years of issues at the position.
Sports Illustrated once called Phil Simms the most underrated NFL quarterback of all time, and it’s a fair argument. Even with the career of Eli Manning, who has broken nearly all of Simms’ team records, many still consider him the greatest passer in New York Giants history.
Simms led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins but only went to two Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro selection just once. Even if his yearly stats weren’t too astounding — he only topped 4,000 passing yards once and never surpassed 22 touchdowns — his performance in 1987’s Super Bowl XXI is the stuff of legend. He completed 88 percent of his passes (22 of 25) and had a passer rating of 150.9, arguably the best performance by any QB in Super Bowl history.
29. Randall Cunningham
A true revolutionary at the quarterback position, Randall Cunningham could basically do it all.
In terms of passing, his career numbers are right there with some Hall of Famers from the same era in the ’80s and ’90s but it was with his legs that Cunningham separated himself from the pack. He broke virtually every record for rushing at the quarterback position and averaged 30.6 rushing yards per game, which is still second all-time among QBs.
His postseason record is suspect but he also didn’t have the luxury of getting much protection up front, as only two other NFL players were ever sacked more times than Cunningham.
28. Troy Aikman
If winning big games was everything, Troy Aikman would be much higher on this list. He won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, never losing once in the title game. Aikman was also a six-time Pro Bowler, but was an All-Pro only once, which is the higher honor. Aikman was arguably the quarterback of the ’90s, playing from 1989 to 2000 and racking up 90 wins in that decade, which was more than any other QB.
Aikman earned his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his ability to lead a great team but his individual statistics were never too impressive, as he never topped 3,445 yards and only threw for more than 20 touchdowns one time.
27. Sid Luckman
One of the first great quarterbacks in pro football history, Luckman led the Chicago Bears to four NFL championships from 1939 to 1950.
He also led the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating three times, being named a first team All-Pro five times. Luckman revolutionized the throwing game, passing for seven touchdowns in a game once, a record that still hasn’t been topped even in today’s pass-heavy league — and he was the first guy to ever throw for 400 yards in a game.
Nearly 70 years after he played his final NFL snap, Luckman still ranks second all-time in yards per pass attempt.
26. Ken Anderson
Before legendary coach Bill Walsh went on to make Joe Montana into an icon with his West Coast Offense in San Francisco, Walsh ran it with quarterback Ken Anderson in Cincinnati.
Anderson spent 16 seasons in the NFL, all with the Bengals, and put up some spectacular numbers along the way, including four seasons where he led the league in passer rating. His accuracy was also never questioned, as he posted a career 59.3 completion percentage and retired in 1986 with the records for single-season completion percentage and single-game completion percentage.
Anderson has largely been overlooked in these discussions because he played in a small market and never won a Super Bowl but he was a successful guinea pig for a system that would launch several star QBs.
25. Terry Bradshaw
Pittsburgh Steelers lifer Terry Bradshaw benefited greatly from being surrounded by Hall-of-Fame offensive skill players and one of the greatest defenses in history. He never led the league in passing yards or passer rating — and his career total for both of those stats won’t blow you away — but he never lost in the big games. He guided the Steelers to four Super Bowls and won every one of them.
You can knock Bradshaw for throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns in his career, but with that defense backing him up, who can blame him for taking some risks?
24. Tony Romo
It might shock you to know that, among all retired NFL quarterbacks, Tony Romo has the highest career passer rating. It’s also the highest career passer rating for any QB who never played in a Super Bowl, which is the part of Romo’s legacy that may keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
He never had much luck in the playoffs but his career numbers in statistics like yards per pass attempt and completion percentage — he ties Peyton Manning in the latter category — are among the best ever. In roughly the same number of seasons, Romo’s numbers are better than fellow Cowboys great Troy Aikman, but he had the misfortune of playing without the Hall of Famers his predecessor did.
23. Jim Kelly
For eight out of 11 of his NFL seasons, Jim Kelly passed for at least 3,000 yards and averaged about 3,200 yards per season for his career. He also led the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl four times, which means he made it to the big game in more than one-third of all the seasons he played. Of course, the Bills lost all four times and Kelly didn’t play at his best in them, but he clearly had a gift for winning in the regular season and playoffs.
22. Warren Moon
After unequaled success in the Canadian Football League, where he won five championships, Warren Moon went on to have a great career in the NFL despite having virtually no playoff success.
Moon threw for more than 3,000 yards every time he played a 16-game season and topped the 4,000-yard mark four times. Moon’s gun-slinging style led to a fair share of interceptions and an average career passer rating but he was extremely popular, being named to nine Pro Bowls. Moon currently sits at 10th all-time in NFL career passing yards and 10th all-time in game-winning drives led.
If he hadn’t spent six years playing in the CFL, it’s scary to think what his final NFL totals would’ve been.
21. Sonny Jurgensen
Arguably the league’s earliest long-ball passer, Jurgensen was a legend with the Eagles and Redskins who posted a career losing record as a starter but was still a marvel. He led the league in passing yardage five times, topping 3,000 yards in all those seasons, and was a touchdown machine. His 255 career passing touchdowns total still put him at 19th all-time, despite playing during the so-called “dead-ball era,” when running backs ruled the league.
While with the Eagles in 1960, he won his lone NFL championship, handing Vince Lombardi’s Packers their only playoff loss ever.
20. Donovan McNabb
Severely overlooked because he never won the big game, Eagles legend Donovan McNabb is one of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to collect 30,000 passing yards, 200 passing touchdowns, 3,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns — and all of them are on this list.
He’s tied with Jim Kelly as the QB with the most playoff wins with no ring and finished his career with more passing yards and a better passer rating than that Hall of Famer. In 2004, McNabb had one of the greatest seasons a quarterback has ever had, becoming the first ever to throw for more than 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions. For some reason, he’s still not in the Hall.
For the second consecutive year, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery put his body on the line and played through extensive pain in the playoffs.
While it didn’t have a fairy tale ending this time, as Jeffery’s drop turned into a game-sealing interception, the veteran showed how much he is willing to put on the line for his teammates.
Jeffery hung around immediately after the game to answer questions from reporters about his huge drop on the final drive. What he didn’t reveal was a diagnosis from earlier in the week that he has several cracked ribs.
It’s no wonder Jeffery’s teammates quickly went to bat for him after the game. He played a deciding role in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots last season with a torn rotator cuff.
The 28-year-old is clearly one of the most respected and beloved players in Philadelphia’s locker room. Even after a crushing loss with a missed opportunity he’ll never forget, Jeffery should remain beloved by the team, city and fan base as a true representation of everything Philadelphia represents.
The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs got underway Saturday night with the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Indianapolis Colts. A week off did nothing to slow the Chiefs’ offensive momentum.
Led by Patrick Mahomes, who did not find his first career playoff start nearly as intimidating as the pundits thought he would, the Chiefs jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and never looked back. The Colts hardly looked ready to play, nothing like the team that rode a 10-1 streak into the weekend. The Chiefs went on to win by a final score of 31-13.
The Cowboys and Rams met in LA for the late game on Saturday night to decide the first of the NFC Championship entrants. The Rams’ running game had no troubles against a usually stout Cowboys defense, and the home team rolled on for a 30-22 win.
On Sunday, the Patriots had no problems running around and through the Chargers, winning 41-28 to lock down their eighth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship game.
The Saints turned aside the Eagles, sinking their hope of a Super Bowl repeat with a 20-14 win in New Orleans. The Saints will host the Rams there next weekend.
Winner: Michael Thomas
The postseason hasn’t been filled with inspiring performances from offensive skill players. But the Saints wide receiver changed that. He and Drew Brees single-handedly got the Saints offense rolling again after a slow start. His best catch of the day — and there were A LOT of them — was on the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Just watch it.
He finished the game with 171 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.
Loser: Nick Foles’ magic
You can’t impugn what the guy did prior to this game. The Eagles wouldn’t have been playing this weekend, or last, if Foles hadn’t stepped up as the team’s “closer” again this season with Carson Wentz hurt. But he turned into a pumpkin again, underthrowing his receivers and just unable to get the ball to his receivers when the Eagles needed it the most.
With free agency looming this spring, Foles may have cost himself some money with his performance this week, maybe not much, but enough to notice.
Winner: Time of possession
It feels like we haven’t had a good conversation about time of possession since the early days of the Chip Kelly experience in Philly. This time it was the Saints putting on the clock clinic.
It happened in the third quarter. Trailing 10-14, the Saints got the ball at their own 8-yard line. From there they put together a grinding 92-yard touchdown drive over 18 plays and 11:29 minutes, essentially monopolizing the entire third quarter.
Winner: The Patriots defense
Absent most of the season, the Patriots defense looked like one of the NFL’s most fearsome in the first half of the game. Philip Rivers never had a chance against a pass rush that was previously dormant.
Loser: Philip Rivers’ legacy
He’s got more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions over the course of his career than either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, but unlike those other two first-round picks from the 2004 draft, he does not have a Super Bowl ring. Instead, he and J.P. Losman have something in common.
The Chargers defense put on a clinic for how to stop a creative running game in last week’s win against the Ravens. Apparently, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was able to find some holes in their game plan.
Sony Michel rolled up nearly 100 yards and scored three touchdowns … in the first half. He’s the first rookie running back in franchise history to rush for more than 100 yards in a playoff game. He finished the day with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
James White, who led the team in receptions during the regular season with 87, was Tom Brady’s favorite receiver on the day, catching 15 of 17 passes for 97 yards.
The Patriots chewed up the clock with their running backs, leaving little time for Rivers and Co. to put points on the board. It also helped keep the workload light for their defense, and teased out what their game plan might be next week against Kansas City.
Winner: C.J. Anderson
The Rams signed C.J. Anderson in mid-December, when Todd Gurley was dealing with a knee injury. Anderson had been released by both the Panthers and Raiders earlier in the season and was really just supposed to be a warm body while Gurley could heal up.
Instead, Anderson has bulldozed every defense he faced. In two games to end the season, he carried the ball 43 times for 299 yards and two touchdowns — that averaged out to 7 yards per carry. But that was against two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and 49ers. Next up was the playoffs — and a Cowboys defense that ranked fifth in the league against the run during the regular season. Last week, they held the Seahawks’ top-ranked rushing offense to just 73 yards on the ground.
Anderson had more than that in the first half alone: 12 carries for 78 yards. Even with a healthy Gurley back in the lineup, Anderson was a force in the Rams’ first playoff win in 14 years. He used his, uh, rotund frame to help the Rams dominate the time of possession and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
Anderson was the leading rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, he did this:
The 32 things we learned heading into the 2018 NFL playoff divisional round:
1. If it seemed the wild-card round was chock full of fresh faces and teams, well, it was. None of the eight clubs competing in the opening round was in action for last season’s wild-card games, and only the Eagles (a No. 1 seed with a bye in 2017) even reached the playoff field a year ago.
1a. But you’ll see largely familiar characters in the divisional round with Philadelphia returning along with the four teams on bye — the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints, all postseason entries last year, too.
1b. The last team to advance to the Super Bowl after playing on wild-card weekend was the 2012 Ravens, who won Super Bowl XLVII. The next 10 conference champs have all had first-round byes.
2. Gen X-er Philip Rivers, 37, has to be the sentimental favorite to win it all, right? No quarterback in league history has thrown for more yards (54,656) or more touchdowns (374) yet never played on Super Sunday.
2a. And how great (and entertaining) would it be to see Rivers’ Chargers take on the Saints … and former Bolts QB Drew Brees, who kept Philly Riv on the bench for two years?
3. But if you’re into unminted Millennial passers, Patrick Mahomes (23), Jared Goff (24), Dak Prescott (25) and, most certainly, Andrew Luck (29) could ride great story lines all the way to Atlanta, site of Super Bowl LIII.
4. Three quarterbacks made their playoff debuts during wild-card weekend. Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Mitchell Trubisky all lost.
5. Welp, Matt Nagy, guess you shoulda laid down for the Vikings in Week 17 rather than invite a matchup with the Iggles and your old buddy Doug Pederson.
6. Did anyone else want Eagles-Bears go into overtime (maybe double OT) just to see how NBC would handle its Golden Globes coverage, which began minutes after Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wrapped?
7. Rough night for Chicago’s Cody Parkey, whose would-be, game-winning field goal attempt from 43 yards hit the upright then the crossbar before caroming into the end zone. No good. Parkey drilled the Soldier Field uprights four times Nov. 1. Uncanny.
8. But if I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Parkey is about to get a flood of support from kickers throughout the league as he copes with this unfortunate bounce. Bounces.
9. Nick Foles was picked off twice in Sunday’s win over the Bears. The last time he threw multiple INTs in an Eagles uniform, Oct. 26, 2014, Chip Kelly was their coach and Foles had yet to play for the Rams or Chiefs.
9a. The last time Philadelphia played the Saints in postseason, the 2013 wild-card round, Foles was also the quarterback (in a losing effort) — Kelly’s only NFL playoff appearance.
10. Congrats to Eagles WR Golden Tate, who scored the game-winning TD at Chicago, instantly justifying the scrutinized trade deadline deal for him — which cost Philly a third-round pick that appeared awfully expensive given the struggles to integrate Tate into the offense.
10a. Congrats to Eagles LT Jason Peters, RB/KR Darren Sproles and LB Jordan Hicks, who all missed the 2017 Super Bowl run with injuries but tasted a playoff victory Sunday.
10b. Feel for you, Wentz.
11. Was wild-card weekend’s MVP Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley? His unit was on the short end of a 22-10 loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. Sunday, it showed the rest of the league how to contain Jackson — essentially deploying a defense comprised of linemen and defensive backs to shadow, flummox and confuse the rookie.
12. Jackson, who turns 22 on Monday, became the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history. He looked like it. Make no mistake, the Ravens don’t win the AFC North without Jackson’s heroics in the second half of the season, when he went 6-1 as the starter. But Bradley and the Bolts provided a blueprint to stopping him and a fresh reminder that, though Jackson remains an elite athlete and highly effective with the ball in open space, he’s got a long, long way to go to be a fully-formed pro quarterback. He was sacked seven times, picked off once and fumbled thrice, losing the ball on his team’s final possession.
13. Who figured on Chargers rookie K Mike Badgley outperforming Ravens all-pro Justin Tucker? Badgley set a Bolts’ postseason record with five made field goals, while Tucker was 1-for-2 on three-point tries. Tucker missed five FGs this season, three against L.A.
14. Who figured on Chargers FB Derek Watt making a longer playoff run this season than brothers J.J. and T.J.?
15. The Chargers haven’t beaten Tom Brady since 2005. Rivers is 0-7 head-to-head against TB12, including two losses in postseason.
15a. But Sunday, the Chargers became the only team in the league to win eight times on the road this season. A visit to Foxborough, daunting as it is, won’t phase them.
16. The last time Rivers appeared in a playoff game at Gillette Stadium, the 2007 AFC Championship Game, he played on a torn ACL.
17. Baltimore’s second-ranked run game, which had averaged nearly 230 yards in Jackson’s seven regular-season starts, was limited to 90.
During this week’s slate of NFL games, a ton of individual matchups will take center stage as 30 of the league’s 32 teams take to the field.
Can Denzel Ward continue his great rookie season in route to leading the Browns to a winning record against Keenan Allen and the equally hot Los Angeles Chargers? Patrick Peterson will look to continue his excellent play in hopes of stopping a Vikings receiver in Adam Thielen who is on pace to break the single-season catch mark. And in Kansas City, the Patriots must contend with the league’s best offense, Tyreek Hill included.
These are among the top individual matchups for each Week 6 NFL game.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. vs Ronald Darby
We hope the rest of the Week 3 NFL preseason slate doesn’t come close to what we saw Thursday night between the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.
For the defending champion Eagles, it was about as bad as one can imagine. Reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles turned the ball over four times.
He was consistently threatened in the backfield by Myles Garrett, and couldn’t click with Philadelphia’s second-team offense.
On the other side of the ball, Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor exited in the game with a hand injury in the first quarter. Seemingly done for the remainder of the preseason, Browns head coach Hue Jackson made the most Hue Jackson of calls by bringing Taylor back into a meaningless game.
These are among the winners and losers from Cleveland’s ugly 5-0 preseason win over Philadelphia Thursday evening.
Eagles left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai had absolutely no answer for this second-year stud Thursday evening. Throughout the first half, it was apparent that Garrett could get to Nick Foles on a consistent basis.
Philadelphia even sent double teams in Garrett’s direction without much success.
It’s this type of domination that the Browns expected from the Texas A&M product when they made him the No. 1 overall pick back in 2017. It’s a game-changing ability, one that will help this defense improve leaps and bounds once the regular season starts.
Coming back from a minor injury, the reigning Super Bowl MVP struggled in his second consecutive preseason outing. This week against Cleveland, it was about both a lack of accuracy and an inability to get rid of the ball on time. Out of the gate, he threw the ball late on an out route. It was a pass that Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell almost turned into a pick-six.
Then, later in the first half, this Foles pass was picked off by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
The Eagles might be a month removed from their first Super Bowl title, but they’re not taking anything for granted. The team will trade wide receiver Torrey Smith to the Panthers for cornerback Daryl Worley, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move comes days after Philadelphia bolstered its defensive line, acquiring Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.
Worley, originally a 2012 third-round pick out of West Virginia, now gets a chance to play in his hometown. In two seasons in Carolina, he started 25 games and had three interceptions, 19 passes defended and two sacks. Worley was a replacement-level talent last season, according to Pro Football Focus, where he ranked 79th out of 120 cornerbacks. As a rookie, he ranked 33rd overall, and the hope is that Worley will flourish on an Eagles defense that was among the league’s best a season ago.
The latest offseason maneuvering reiterates the point made by Warren Sharp and others about how teams with young, relatively inexpensive quarterbacks are building to win titles right now.
Rams & Eagles are in peak Super Bowl mode. Both have starting QBs with 3 more years on their cheap, rookie deal. The salary cap has risen by $22M since they were signed & they don’t have to spend that on a starting QB now or in the near future. It’s an arms race at this point.
Smith, meanwhile, gives the Panthers a much-needed deep threat. He started 14 games last season but had just 36 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ well-balanced offense. In Carolina, running back Christian McCaffrey was the leading receiver, hauling in 80 passes. He was followed by Devin Funchess (63 receptions), which goes a long way in explaining why the Panthers would be interested in Smith, who averaged 20.1 yards per reception with the 49ers in 2015.
You’d be forgiven if you went to bed early having chalked up another win for New England.
After all, the Patriots may have been losing to the Philadelphia Eagles with just a few minutes to play — but they had Tom Brady under center, the man who has helmed countless fourth-quarter comebacks, including a rather historic one to win last year’s title game. He had thrown for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns already by this point. Surely this Super Bowl would play out just like so many we’ve seen before, with Brady steering the Pats down the field to pull out the win — right?
It didn’t exactly pan out that way.
In a slobberknocker of a matchup, with both offenses looking unstoppable for much of the game, it was ultimately Philadelphia’s defense that made the decisive plays in the final minutes to win Super Bowl LII, 41-33. First, they forced an uncharacteristic fumble by Brady, then — after a brief drive by Philadelphia — they stopped the Pats again on the last drive of the game.
Now, the Eagles are Super Bowl champs for the first time in franchise history.
And, in a development that even a psychic would have had a hard time believing at season’s start, Nick Foles has been named Super Bowl MVP. The oft-maligned quarterback — who had been a backup riding the pine until a late-season injury sidelined franchise QB Carson Wentz — threw for more than 370 yards and went blow for blow with Brady, arguably the greatest player in NFL history.
In fact, it was Foles who connected on the game’s final haymaker, hitting tight end Zach Ertz for the go-ahead score with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.
But it was far from just Foles who led the Eagles’ relentless attack. Rookie running back Corey Clement racked up 100 receiving yards, including a touchdown, while ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount gashed his former team’s defense for 90 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.