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SportsMonday: The Foles Factor

How is it possibly possible?

How can it be that backup quarterback Nick Foles - the guy who was absolutely rejected as a possible starting signal-caller by all 32 teams in free agency last year - is the Super Bowl MVP?

First guess? The NFL has no clue what it is doing.

Foles, a third-round draft pick who in 2013 threw 27 touchdowns against only two picks for the Eagles, quickly fell off the map while playing in lousy situations for a lousy coach (the Rams' Jeff Fischer) and a coach with a scheme (the Chiefs' Andy Reid) that didn't work for him.

He ended up not just taking a backup job four years after posting the best touchdown/interception ratio in history, but a backup job behind the most promising young quarterback in the league, Carson Wentz. Then Wentz suffered a knee injury in Week 14 and we all know how the rest of it played out.

One thing Foles' success makes absolutely clear: fans and front offices need to find a way to avoid overhyping rookie quarterbacks. It almost always takes a while for guys to figure out how to play in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers spent more than three seasons on the bench in Green Bay. The young Tom Brady learned as he sat behind Drew Bledsoe in New England. Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman started immediately, and were immediately obliterated before rallying further down the line.

It must be said that one of the teams that decided Foles wasn't worth a look was our beloved Bears. Instead, General Manager Ryan Pace signed crushingly overmatched Mike Glennon to a contract that guaranteed him $18 million.

Mitch Trubisky has undeniable potential. But the Bears drafting him last year doesn't diminish the fact that Pace has been a disaster at evaluating quarterbacks. Trubisky has potential but Deshaun Watson was the best rookie QB in the league last year by far - and the Bears could have had him for so much less than what they paid for Trubisky.

And the year before was almost worse. That was the year Pace decided that the only quarterback he was interested in in the fourth round - despite having said when he was hired that he believed in drafting a quarterback every year - was Michigan State mediocrity Connor Cook. When Cook went early in that round in 2016 (to the Raiders, where he remains a backup), Pace drafted once, twice, three times in the fourth before the Cowboys lucked into now two-year rock-solid starter Dak Prescott at the end of the round. The Bears got no one despite the fact they had to know that Jay Cutler was not the long-term solution.

Of course, things might have gone differently for Prescott, or for any player, if they had found themselves in a different spot than where they ended up - like on a team without a running back like Ezekiel Elliott. But when screw-ups happen year after year, it is clear that the players' specific landing spots don't matter as much as the executives who made the calls that sent them there.

To tell the truth, though, Pace shouldn't feel too bad. He has oh so much company. The Foles situation shows that the league simply doesn't know how the heck to properly evaluate players in the position that is only the most important in sports.

What a job Fisher did with the Rams by the way. First his system crushed Foles. Then it screwed up Case Keenum and Jared Goff. Each has flourished since getting away from the guy who is probably finished coaching at the highest level.

Keenum is one of the many guys who shows that the Foles situation isn't a one-off. And one thing that both Keenum and Foles had going for them is they both had long, accomplished college football careers. Keenum starred for Houston for three years and Foles did the same for Arizona.

Let's hope desperately that that isn't the key. If a long, accomplished college career is the best predictor of eventual pro success, the Bears (and Trubisky, who had all of 13 starts at QB at that level) are in even more trouble than we already thought.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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