If you look in the dictionary, you’re not going to find a definition for franchise quarterback. However, it’s a term we talk about all the time. Although there’s no official definition for franchise quarterback, everyone knows what it is and everyone wants one. Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers. There’s no question that these guys are franchise quarterbacks. The question that everyone is asking in Philadelphia right now is whether or not Nick Foles can be a franchise quarterback.
It’s a hard question to answer one way or another right now. His body of work is still pretty limited. He’s shown greatness at times and also showed us what he can look at when he plays his worst in the Dallas game.
Regardless of who the quarterback is, the fans will only be looking for one thing: a championship. Football is a team game and they say defense wins championships. However, having a top-tier quarterback is a big factor in earning that elusive crown. Let’s take a look at the last 10 Super Bowl quarterbacks:
2004 – Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
2005 – Tom Brady (New England Patriots) *CHEATERS
2006 – Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2007 – Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
2008 – Eli Manning (New York Giants)
2009 – Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2010 – Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
2011 – Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
2012 – Eli Manning (New York Giants)
2013 – Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
It’s a pretty impressive list. You can see three of the names I mentioned earlier. That Brees guy ain’t half bad either. A few of the other guys on that list may not be on the same level, but it’s pretty clear that these guys are labeled as franchise quarterbacks. Also, all of these guys had a decent amount of playing time under their belts when they won. The exception may be Roethlisberger in 2006 who entered the league in 2004.
I also believe that all of the guys listed above have displayed a certain degree of “clutchness” that we haven’t seen out of Foles quite yet. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have it, but we haven’t seen that “wow” moment just yet. Sure, throwing seven touchdowns is impressive, but it’s not the same during the regular season against a team like Oakland.
Another thing to point out is that a lot of these teams had a pretty solid defense for these quarterbacks to play with. The Eagles defense has improved in recent weeks but they’re still far being close to the same level as a Steelers or Ravens defense.
So let’s fast forward to the present. All of these past champions are still riding the coattails of the quarterbacks who have already provided them with a championship. Some of them are very much in contention, but a number of them are also struggling.
It’s interesting to look at the new era of franchise quarterbacks. There are young players like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russel Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick. All of these guys have found success, but outside of Wilson, these players have also experienced some failures. It’s also an interesting dynamic with some of these guys being drafted very high while others landed in the middle rounds.
There’s no denying that the 2014 draft class has a lot of talent. There isn’t a clear cut standout like Luck or RGIII. You’d have to assume Marcus Mariota is the top guy, but I think he’s far from being the clear cut top player. He has the tools to be a great player, but we’ve seen plenty of guys who projected to be a top talent at the next level and not live up to the hype.
With five games remaining, we’ll clearly know more about Foles than we do right now. He’s played at a high-level as of late, but I don’t think anyone is ready to commit to him just yet. He delivers the ball with accuracy and has kept the turnovers down, but he doesn’t have that explosive factor like some of these newer quarterbacks. You don’t have to be a track star to find success in the NFL, but having that tool in your belt surely doesn’t hurt.
The biggest question surrounding Foles’ future is only one that Chip Kelly can answer. He’s an offensive genius who is going to have to decide whether or not he thinks Foles can be the quarterback that can earn the Eagles a Super Bowl crown. We’ve seen that Kelly can run an offense that Foles can find success in but is it the offense he truly wants to run? Does Foles limit things he’d like to do given his tool set? Would he prefer a guy like Mariota who can throw the ball but also make plays with his feet?
With the Eagles tied for the division lead, there’s definitely a certain level of pressure on Foles. A franchise quarterback should be able to lead his team to the playoffs, right? You have to believe that’s the expectation and the result is only one that time can tell.
For Kelly, I have to think he asks himself on a daily basis if Foles is the quarterback that can lead his offense for many years and give him a legitimate shot to win a championship. As I’ve noted, you can’t truly answer that question one way or another at this time.
We have seen in the past that you don’t necessarily need a guy that is elite as Brady or Peyton, but you need a player who can play at an extremely high level.
The rest of the season will all help us formulate an opinion on whether or not Foles should be the guy in 2014 and beyond. However, Kelly will make the ultimate decision and a run to the playoffs may not even solidify the title of franchise quarterback for Foles.