When the 2014 NFL draft came around, there was a very real possibility that the Philadelphia Eagles drafted now Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. This excited many fans, and many experts said how great the fit would be for the Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly even recruited Manziel in college, and Manziel’s unique combination of speed and arm strength made him appear to be an ideal candidate for the Eagles and their fast paced offense. When Manziel was available for the Eagles at pick number 22, the possibility of them drafting him became real and the sports world collectively held their breaths. Instead the Eagles passed on him, and opted instead for a guy named Foles. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles played on a rare level last year, and he earned the spot on the Eagles starting roster, but that isn’t the only thing that makes him an even better fit for the Eagles than Manziel.
The things that Chip Kelly covets are some of the most important qualities any athlete can have. They are, speed, versatility, size, familiarity, and decision making. Now the reason that Nick Foles is a better fit for the Philadelphia Eagles than Johnny Manziel is simply that he fits into more of these categories than Manziel does.
Size: Foles Wins
Foles is a very solid 6’6”, while Johnny Manziel barely measures in at 6’0. Foles runs away with this category as he is the perfect build for a quarterback as he can see over the defense and he is harder to bring down, while Manziel is small for a quarterback.
Speed: Manziel Wins
Nick Foles is a big guy but he is not, nor is he expected to be, fast. To his credit he actually runs pretty well for a guy of his size, and he does run better than he gets credit for. However this is where Johnny Manziel really shines. Manziel has a rare ability to escape pressure and use his legs in a positive way. He is very quick and can outrun many defensive players in the league.
Versatility is a hard thing to get out of your quarterback. Manziel might have the edge here because of his speed and the plays he can run because of this, but Foles is more reliable when you need that one last yard. Foles can power run through the defense like a fullback.
Familiarity: Foles Wins
Nick Foles takes this category because he has already started for the Eagles and has great chemistry with wide receivers and tight ends such as wide receiver Riley Cooper. Meanwhile if the Eagles had drafted Manziel he would be a newcomer, unfamiliar with these players, and he would need more time to adjust. He may never form a connection with certain players, the issue here is that you could not know how Manziel would work out, while you do know how Foles works in your offense.
Decision Making: Foles Wins
The thing that I don’t love about Johnny Manziel, is that when things go wrong he uses his legs. Now you might be thinking, isn’t that a great thing, for a quarterback to be able to use his legs to escape bad situations? Well, yes, it is a good thing, but those are not the kind of legs Chip Kelly looks for and those are not the kind of legs I look for. Speed is important for escaping defenses, but that should be when it is your best option or only option. Manziel turns to his legs without making sure that it is in fact his best option. This game style is very similar to that of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The thing that makes Nick Foles so elite is the following number…..2. That is how many interceptions Foles threw last year. That minuscule number is thanks to his ability to make great decisions. Foles never makes a dumb throw, he never gives up on a play, he always does the best thing he can. The only quarterbacks that do this better are Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and those three are headed to the hall of fame.
The moral of the story is that Nick Foles does not get the credit he deserves, and that may be because he doesn’t have the most exciting arm, or breakaway speed, or the best accuracy, but it doesn’t matter because what Nick Foles has is a mental gift that is hard to come by.