The fact that Carson Wentz missed the final three games of the regular season and likely a second straight playoff run actually might hurt the Giants more than it does the Eagles.
At least it will if you subscribe to the theory that the Giants are ready to move on from Eli Manning and will be in the market for a veteran quarterback in free agency. If that’s the situation the Giants find themselves in, a likely target of theirs will be Nick Foles.
Foles, who has helped the Eagles win three straight games just to reach the postseason, will start against the Bears on Sunday in Chicago in the NFC wild-card round. And the deeper he brings the Eagles in the playoffs, the higher his price tag will get.
In fact, if Foles were to replicate the magical run of a year ago and bring a second straight Super Bowl title to Philadelphia, it might eliminate him from free agency altogether.
The Eagles have a $20-million option for Foles in 2019 that, as of now, no one in the NFL believes they will use, but another Lombardi Trophy might change their minds on that. The Eagles hadn’t won a championship in six decades. If they win two and let the quarterback who led them to those titles walk away, there might be a bigger revolt in Philadelphia than there was in 1776.
Foles, who will turn 30 this month, likely is on the Giants’ short list to replace Manning because of his history with Pat Shurmur. They worked together during Foles’ first stint with the Eagles, when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator. In 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions with a passer rating of 119.2, the third highest in NFL history.
That may seem like a long time ago, and it was. After that, Foles played for two other teams before contemplating retirement, returning to the Eagles and replacing Wentz, an MVP candidate who tore his ACL in December 2017. Next thing you know, Foles was MVP of the Super Bowl.
He started the 2018 season for the Eagles while Wentz was recovering from knee surgery, then hopped back in the saddle last month when Wentz suffered a back injury. The Eagles needed to win their final three games to advance to the postseason, and Foles gave them that.
Foles could give the Giants an offensive scheme closer to what Shurmur employed in Minnesota in 2017. Shurmur had to slant his Giants offense in 2018 toward Manning’s skill set. The quarterback responded and was able to run a lot of bootlegs and throw on the run, but Manning will never be able to use much run-pass option the way Foles can.
Foles also gives his offense a chance to extend plays by scrambling or running for first downs.
“I’m fond of quarterbacks that can move around, but you have to be able to throw the ball from the pocket to have success in the league,” Shurmur said this past week.
Foles can do both, and Shurmur knows it.
He’s also not above being a backup, which is something that could appeal to the Giants if they want to groom a rookie quarterback in 2019 as well.
The last time the Giants picked a quarterback in the first round, they brought in a former Super Bowl MVP to keep the seat warm for him. By that November in 2004, Kurt Warner had yielded the job to Manning.
Following the same pattern with, say, Foles and Dwayne Haskins might be appealing to an organization that has talked about walking a “tightrope” between trying to win in the present and building for long-term success.
He’s not the only potential Giants quarterback who will be in the playoffs, though he might wind up being the only one who actually plays.
Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater also has a history with Shurmur from their days with the Vikings. Shurmur gushed over Bridgewater in the preseason when the quarterback was with the Jets. Bridgewater saw his first extensive playing time since his serious knee injury in Week 17 action for New Orleans and was far from impressive (14-for-22, 118 yards, one touchdown, one interception). But he is only 26 years old, and before his injury in 2016, he seemed to be a rising star in the NFL.
So it’s most likely that the only real possibility at quarterback that the Giants will get to see in action this postseason is Foles. Despite suffering a rib injury in the finale against the Redskins, he has been cleared to start Sunday’s playoff game.
He’s the Eagles’ quarterback of their immediate future. Which team’s long-term future he’s tied to could be determined by how well he performs this month.