PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles led the NFL in passer rating, helped the Philadelphia Eagles win the NFC East title and had a sensational statistical year as a sophomore.
Has he earned the franchise quarterback title yet?
“I don’t want to comment on any player, but how could you not be impressed with Nick and everything he’s accomplished?” owner Jeffrey Lurie said after Saturday night’s 26-24 loss to New Orleans in an NFC wild-card playoff game. “Including tonight; no turnovers, led us back from 20-7. Incredibly impressive.”
If the Eagles going from worst to first under rookie coach Chip Kelly was the biggest surprise, Foles’ emergence had to be second on that list. He was outstanding after replacing an injured Michael Vick in Week 5.
Foles threw 29 touchdown passes, including two against the Saints, and only two interceptions, setting an NFL record for best TD/interception ratio. His passer rating of 119.2 was the third-highest in NFL history. He finished 8-3 as a starter.
Moreover, Foles showed poise, leadership and remarkable maturity for a guy who turns just 25 on Jan. 20.
“I know that this season is over, but we’re going to keep working and growing as a team,” Foles said. “I love playing here, I love this city, I love this team, and I love this organization because I know the heart of it. The heart of it is the heart of Philadelphia. Like Coach Kelly said, ‘We fight,’ and we’re going to keep fighting.”
Foles wasn’t at his best against the Saints, contributing to the abrupt end to Philadelphia’s season. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. But he also made some costly decisions.
The biggest mistake was holding the ball far too long and taking a sack for an 11-yard loss early in the second quarter. Alex Henery missed a 48-yard field goal on the next play. Obviously, those extra 11 yards didn’t help the kicker on a cold, windy night.
“It’s tough. You don’t want to do that, but you have to keep playing to the next play. You can’t let a mistake like that – taking a sack or an intentional grounding – defeat you on the next one,” Foles said. “I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m not going to let that play defeat me and make me a worse player. I’m going to use that play to learn from it.”
Kelly already said, jokingly, that Foles is his starter for the “next thousand years.” While there’s no arguing the success Foles had, there’s no denying his lack of speed isn’t ideal to run some of the zone-read plays Kelly features in his up-tempo offense.
So, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Eagles try to retain Vick as the backup. Vick made $7 million this season on a restructured deal. He won the starting job in training camp and played well early in the season before suffering a hamstring injury.
“Michael has been as impressive (as Foles) to us just internally,” Lurie said. “Incredibly mature teammate, leader and somebody who helped Nick tremendously. He’s been a joy to have. He represented the team always with class. I didn’t know a lot about Michael before he came, heard a lot, and he’s been very impressive.”
LIONS: Augusta native Ken Whisenhunt is the front-runner for Detroit’s coaching job, sources told ESPN.com. Whisenhunt, who played for Richmond Academy, Georgia Tech and in the NFL, coached at Arizona for six seasons but was fired by the Cardinals after last season.
WASHINGTON: Perry Fewell’s interview for the Washington Redskins coaching job has been set for Monday.
John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance said Sunday that the New York Giants defensive coordinator will meet with Washington general manager Bruce Allen at Redskins Park.
Wooten monitors coaching searches as part of his group’s efforts to encourage the hiring of minorities in the NFL.
Fewell becomes the fifth known candidate to interview as the potential replacement for Mike Shanahan, who was fired last week.
Allen met with Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell at Redskins Park on Sunday. Caldwell was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons.
Allen has also interviewed Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
TITANS: Ruston Webster is in charge of his first coaching search in the NFL and only the Titans’ second since moving to Tennessee, and the general manager says his goal is finding the man who is the right fit for the franchise.
He’s also not limiting what he wants in the Titans’ next coach.
“The biggest thing to me that you can’t do is rule out guys,” Webster said. “ ‘I want an offensive guy or a defensive guy, previous head coaching experience.’ … It causes you to miss out on possibly some good candidates.”
Webster wants to start interviewing candidates as soon as possible to replace Mike Munchak, who was fired Saturday after three years as head coach and 31 seasons with the franchise overall.
The general manager says some of the candidates he wants to interview still are coaching in the playoffs. With the Titans firing Munchak six days after the regular season ended, they missed the window to interview candidates whose teams had a bye this week.
The last time the Titans went looking for a new coach was late January 2011, after Jeff Fisher was fired with all other openings in the NFL already filled. Munchak was hired Feb. 7, 2011.
This time, the Titans became the seventh team in the league to fire a coach, but only the Texans and Buccaneers have hired replacements.
Webster said he plans to meet with assistant coaches starting Monday. Munchak’s firing happened so quickly after nearly a week of meetings that Webster said he hadn’t completed the process yet with Titans president and chief executive officer Tommy Smith.
ESPN.com reported Sunday that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is a leading candidate for the job.