Home FootballRams From contemplating retirement after season with Rams, Nick Foles is now set to start in Super Bowl LII

From contemplating retirement after season with Rams, Nick Foles is now set to start in Super Bowl LII

by Jeremy Bowen

March 10, 2015. The day St. Louis Rams fans thought the pain and suffering was finally going to come to an end. The Rams traded Sam Bradford and a 2015 5th round pick in exchange for Nick Foles, a 2015 4th round pick, and 2016 2nd round pick. This just seemed like pure highway robbery pulled off by Rams GM Les Snead. Bradford, the former 1st overall pick 2010 had torn the ACL on his left knee midway through the 2013 season, and then tore that same ACL on his first drive of a preseason game in 2014. You have to feel for the guy, but I mean the Rams were getting rid of the most injury prone quarterback in the league and in turn were getting a QB who was just two years removed from a Pro Bowl season. After drafting highly touted running back Todd Gurley, things were looking up and the Rams were even in the preseason playoff discussion!

It really seemed like things were turning the corner when the Rams took down the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime on opening day. Foles had thrown for nearly 300 yards, had a rushing touchdown, and even threw a game tying 37-yard touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks with 53 seconds left to push the game to OT. We had our guy.

Foles gets into the endzone for a rushing touchdown against the Seahawks. Photo by AP Photo.

Fast forward three weeks later. The Rams had dropped their last two games after the Seahawk win and were headed into Phoenix for a divisional matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Foles showed us that potential once again. Against one of the best secondaries in the league, Foles only threw for 171 yards, but tossed three touchdowns. Todd Gurley was also making his first start after an ACL injury in college the year before. He bursted onto the scene with 146 rushing yards on 19 carries. The Rams eked out a narrow 24-22 victory to get their record back to .500. That Cardinals team also made it all the way to the NFC Championship later in the season.

Jump ahead another few weeks, the Rams were 2-3 coming off their bye week, then notched back to back wins against the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers to improve to 4-3. This was the Rams first winning record this late in the season in over a decade. It was enjoyable football to watch. But after the win over the Niners, all hell literally broke loose.

After the 4-3 start, the Rams would lose their next five games in a row to drop to 4-8, preverbally knocking them out of the playoff race. This would be the losing streak that Rams Chief Operating Officer & Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff would claim to be grateful for once the team moved to LA. Two of these five losses were by a field goal, and the other three were not pretty. One of the losses included a 37-13 shellacking at the Edward Jones Dome by the Chicago Bears, a team who finished the season with a worse record than the Rams.

After the Bears loss, the then struggling Nick Foles would be benched in favor of backup Case Keenum. But Foles would regain his starting job two weeks later as Keenum suffered a concussion. Keenum would be cleared a few weeks later and Keenum started the last four games of the season over Foles. So, what started as a promising dream turned into a rather vivid nightmare in the blink of an eye. Here is how Foles finished the 2015 season stat wise:

11 games, 190/337, 2052 passing yards, seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions

So yes, not good. But is Foles really to blame for the Rams struggles in 2015? Absolutely not. No team is successful unless their offensive line is, and the Rams had one of the worst in the league. If Foles did not get the ball out of his hands in the first 2.5 seconds after the snap, he was either sacked or about to be hit which meant errant throws. And who did he have to throw to? Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin. Not exactly an elite list of pass catchers there. I mean the team had to sign concussion riddled Wes Welker midway through the season to try and help because the WR core was so bad. Foles did have Gurley in the backfield, but he was underutilized to a degree simply because he was coming off an ACL injury and you don’t want to push the guy to limit quite yet.

But because of the atrocious offensive line, it was tough to have a consistent rushing game, therefore the passing game could not be opened up either. When Gurley rushed for over 100 yards in a game 2015, the Rams were 4-1. Shows you how important the running game is to a team’s success. Nonetheless, Foles in a nutshell had nothing around him but inadequate talent. They were ranked 32nd in the league in offense. Yikes. And they still somehow managed seven wins! Good old Jeff Fisher 7-9.

Unfortunately, this was a constant sight for Rams fans in 2015. Photo courtesy of Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images.

After this horrendous season, Foles contemplated retirement, of all things. “I wanted to retire (after season with Rams). I wanted to retire from the NFL, and I really struggled.” Foles said. “I couldn’t pick up a football for about eight months. I had no love for the game, and it was tough.” It turns out a fly fishing/camping trip nearly made the difference for Foles, as he found his way through his faith.

“I kept reading scripture, I kept praying, I kept asking God; and so many of us ask God for signs, we ask God, ‘Hey, please just put it on the wall, like, I want to know,’ but that’s not how it works,” Foles proclaimed. “He’s not always going to do that. He was shaping me. He was bringing me down to my knees. At that moment, through that prayer, He said, ‘Hey, just take a step of faith. You’re either going to stop playing the game of football and you’re going to go onto a different area of your life and I’m going to be with you, I’m going to be the most important thing in your life, or you’re going to step back into football and you’re going to continue to play and I’m going to be with you every step of the way and you’re going to play to glorify me.”

Foles spent the 2016 season with the Kansas City Chiefs and played in a few games due to Alex Smith being down with an injury. Foles then signed back in Philly, to back up young star Carson Wentz. However, Wentz went down with an ACL injury in Week 14 of this season against the Los Angeles Rams. Foles stepped in and help win the game for the Eagles. Foles would finish the season 2-1 over the games he started.

Foles also went 2-0 in the playoffs in a 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons and a 38-7 win in the NFC Championship over the Minnesota Vikings. In the two games combined, Foles went 49/63 for 598 yards and three touchdowns. Here is the key stat. Foles did not turn the ball over in the two games. Foles has proven that when he is surrounded by competent players, he can succeed. The Eagles have a strong offensive line, solid running game with Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, and some great weapons like Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor.

Foles is going to play on the biggest stage there is in football this Sunday. A Super Bowl LII matchup against the vaunted New England Patriots with legendary quarterback Tom Brady. As they have been all postseason, the Eagles are once again underdogs and are embracing the role. Foles has proven he can handle the pressure of playoff games, but the Super Bowl in itself is a whole other beast. It will be interesting to see how he handles business this Sunday. Without a doubt he can pull it off, but we will have to wait and see how things unfold this Sunday.

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