In partnership with NBC Sports Philadelphia
Imagine having ever doubted Nick Foles. Well, OK, that puts you in a group with roughly 99 percent of the general public. But imagine having ever traded Foles away, thinking he wasn't good enough to get the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
There are a select few talent evaluators on the face of this earth who have gone so far as to actually get rid of Foles, and just one man who swapped him for another quarterback. Take a bow, Chip Kelly. Your brief tenure as coach of the Eagles and even briefer stint as personnel czar only continue to look worse with time.
It's not news Kelly was a failure as an NFL coach and fired after three seasons, or his one year as the Eagles' general manager was disastrous. Fans had to relive one mistake after another as vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spent the last two years undoing the damage, one move at a time.
Yet, little else was thought of Kelly's call to send Foles packing, until now. To the contrary, it was one of the few decisions where the disgraced coach appeared justified. It took Foles less than one season to flame out with the Rams and wind up a journeyman backup. Anybody who thought it might be a bad idea at the time had no room to talk.
Now that Foles has done his part to guide the Eagles to a conference championship, it's time to revisit that decision. And at the time Kelly traded Foles, he had a 14-4 record in his previous 18 starts. He had set an NFL record with a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013 (since broken by Tom Brady). He walked off the field with the lead in a wild card playoff game.
Maybe Foles was a victim of playing behind a patchwork offensive line in 2014, when he turned the ball over 13 times in eight games and suffered a season-ending injury. Maybe he only seemed like a flash in the pan with the Rams because there was no talent around him in an offense that finished no better than 21st in the league from 2007 to 2016.
Maybe Foles has been pretty good all along, and Kelly and all the doubters were simply wrong. Actually, that's a fact.
Not only did Kelly send Foles packing, but dealt him for Sam Bradford, who, ironically, was sitting on the opposite sideline in the NFC Championship game. Bradford, who may in fact be more talented, but was coming off consecutive ACL tears and hadn't played competitive football in nearly two years. Bradford, who was on the Vikings' sideline because he got hurt again.
It wasn't even Foles for Bradford straight up. Kelly agreed to send second- and fourth-round draft picks in the deal, too, getting only a fifth in return. Like almost all of his moves, this has not aged well.
Kelly traded a potential franchise quarterback; a guy who had won him a lot of games; who looked like he could win in the postseason; a perfectly safe, reliable option, if not exactly oozing greatness – all for a glorified lottery ticket.
Bradford was fine. If he could stay healthy, he would probably prove, like Foles, he never had a shot playing for those awful Rams teams.
But was Bradford worth the gamble? Opinions were mixed at the time, but that's because, like Kelly, there were a lot of folks who were ready to give up on Foles. Three years later, it was just one more needless, horrendous decision.
Fortunately, the universe has a way of correcting itself sometimes. Or maybe that's just Roseman hard at work, the other enormous mistake in Kelly's NFL tenure that went largely glossed over. Whatever. The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl, with Foles at the helm, and Kelly is back to coaching college football – which is the way it always should've been.