MINNEAPOLIS — Case Keenum spent much of this season making a case for being the best backup quarterback signing in the NFL. Keenum stepped in for the injured Sam Bradford after the opening game and played a huge role in the Vikings’ 13-3 regular season.
Keenum, signed to a one-year, $2 million contract in the spring, looked to be a steal and he was a great story. But Keenum’s memorable season takes a backseat when it comes to backup quarterbacks stepping in and providing memorable performances.
It is now Nick Foles — the Super Bowl MVP — who sits at the top of that list.
Foles was signed by the Eagles in March to serve as Carson Wentz’s backup, bringing him back to the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. Foles was traded to the Rams before the 2015 season and then spent 2016 with Kansas City. By last season, he no longer was considered starting material.
Foles, 29, spent most of this season watching Wentz put up MVP-type numbers and there was no reason to think he would see the field. But then Wentz suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a Dec. 10 victory over the Rams in Los Angeles.
Foles took over and the Eagles won two of their final three regular-season games with the loss coming against Dallas in a meaningless finale. Still, the feeling was that Foles wasn’t that big of threat and that the Eagles would be ousted from the playoffs despite being the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
Foles then led the Eagles to playoff victories over the Falcons and Vikings before completing 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and an interception (on a tipped pass) in a 41-33 victory over New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday. In each case, the Eagles were underdogs.
On Sunday, Foles even added a 1-yard touchdown reception on a trick play that featured a pass from Trey Burton late in the second quarter.
Foles picked apart the Patriots defense, just as he had the Vikings’ defense in a 38-7 victory in the NFC title game. He led the Eagles to a field goal on their first drive Sunday, and guided Philadelphia down the field for a touchdown after Tom Brady’s 4-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski gave New England its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. Foles’ answer was an 11-yard scoring strike to Zach Ertz.
“He’s amazing,” Ertz said of Foles. “The past three weeks, he’s been playing out of his mind. People panicked when Carson went down. Nick, we had all the confidence in the world in him. He’s a fantastic human, fantastic player.”
It’s a remarkable story, considering Foles threw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions for the Eagles in 2013 and appeared to be set for the long term in Philadelphia. Foles has admitted that he nearly decided to retire a few years back after struggling with the Rams.
But now Foles is a Super Bowl champion, knowing full well that the job will go back to Wentz when he’s ready to go. Could Foles land elsewhere next season? He signed a five-year contract last spring that has a potential out after 2018 and will pay him $11 million over the first two years.
Considering how many teams are looking for quarterbacks, it’s likely the Eagles will receive a few lucrative offers for Foles. But they also likely will want to keep him given Wentz’s injury.
Foles and the Eagles can worry about that at a later date. On Sunday, they were focused on celebrating the first Super Bowl title in the Eagles’ history.
“I am speechless,” Foles said. “To be part of this organization, to be in this moment is something you dream about as a kid. To be right here with the confetti flying with the greatest group of men. … We have been wanting this for a long time, and I am just blessed to be part of it. We have such a great group of guys, such a great city to play for and I am proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle.”