Back in December, I wrote a post about the key statistical indicators of quarterback performance and then ranked the starters in the league. It’s very basic stuff—I tend to be skeptical of data that makes sports more complicated than physics—and you can read the entire thing here. But for our purposes I want to isolate one particular opinion from there that was validated over the past month…
“This is why I never found Carson Wentz’s MVP case to be compelling. Any mitigating factors actually work against him—he plays with a great running game, a great defense and still ranks this low. The good news for Philly fans—that means Nick Foles can replicate this performance in the short-term.”
I’ll ask you to ignore the fact I just quoted myself, undoubtedly making you wonder “how seriously does this clown take himself?” Instead, let’s focus on why the Eagles really won the Super Bowl. It was because they were a complete football team.
The Eagles could get physical up front and block. They had three running backs who ran with ferocity. They had one of the most reliable tight ends in the league in Zach Ertz and a legitimate big-play threat in Alshon Jeffrey. Philly had the most complete defense in the league. This ensured the offense was often set up in good field position and had the luxury of playing it safe when they had to. In fact, I find it far more impressive that the Eagles survived the injury to their terrific left tackle Jason Peters, whom they never adequately replaced, than the injury to Wentz.
Philadelphia also has a head coach that is not consumed by his own ego. Of all the impressive things I’ve seen and heard about Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, the best was this—when Foles had to take over for Wentz, the coaches went back into the archives of 2013 game film, Foles’ best year as a pro, so they could implement pieces of the system used then.
In a world where most head coaches are forever pontificating about “The System”, it was refreshing to see a coaching staff decide to they had the responsibility to adjust to their talent, rather than vice-versa.
It’s the kind of week-to-week flexibility that Bill Belichick has mastered. It’s the kind of creativity that Joe Gibbs used to demonstrate with the Washington Redskins when he won three Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks. I’m aware I just dropped Pederson’s name in with the two best head coaches of the last half-century. If what we just saw is any indication of the future, Philadelphia fans have some good times still to come.
It’s not hard to play quarterback when your supporting cast can quite literally do everything. Well, it would be hard for me. But I dare say there are 35-40 quarterbacks in the NFL that could have succeeded with all this going for them.
If Eagles fans want to take that as a knock on Wentz or Foles, fine. But if this were my team, I’d rather have the luxury of knowing we aren’t dependent on any one player. Green Bay found out how risky that was this year. Folks here in New England live in fear of what’s around the corner. The Eagles won the Super Bowl because they play all-around football that’s not dependent on any one player–even one the most important position.