Playoffs say less about Foles than Eagles

January, 13, 2014
1/13/14
1:00
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- It was interesting to watch the weekend's NFL playoff action with an eye on the quarterback play and what it told us about Nick Foles' place in the pecking order.

But the real takeaway was that the Eagles need to get better in almost every area other than quarterback if they're going to take a step forward next year. The teams that have won in this postseason have tended to be more complete and better able to crank up the intensity level a few notches.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles
AP Photo/Matt RourkeDespite Nick Foles' 195 yards and two TDs against New Orleans, the Eagles still lost the game.
The Saints were better equipped for playoff-level football than the Eagles, and the Seahawks were better equipped than the Saints. San Francisco, Denver and New England all took the field running hotter than their opponents.

Seattle's Russell Wilson threw for 103 yards. San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick threw for 196 and one touchdown. If Foles had a game like that, the instant reaction would be that Chip Kelly needed to trade up and get Johnny Manziel in the draft.

But Wilson and Kaepernick won, because they were able to make some plays that didn't show up in their passer ratings (67.6 for Wilson, 87.8 for Kaepernick). They won, too, because their teams were able to run the ball and because their defenses were markedly better and more aggressive than the other teams'.

Carolina's Cam Newton was sacked five times and threw two interceptions. He looked overwhelmed by the Niners and the moment, or both.

Analysts who have Andrew Luck pegged as the next great NFL quarterback spent the weekend defending his four-interception performance against the Patriots. Again, it's hard to imagine Foles turning in a performance like that, let alone the backlash it would bring against him.

But even the winning quarterback in that game, the inarguably great Tom Brady, threw for just 198 yards and had a passer rating of 78.4.

Only in Denver's win against San Diego did we see the kind of quarterback play we associate with playoff wins. Peyton Manning threw for two touchdowns and 230 yards (a 93.5 rating), while Philip Rivers was efficient (18-for-27, two TDs, 115.8 rating), but threw for just 217 yards.

Foles' performance against the Saints the week before doesn't look so bad in comparison to this weekend's play. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't turn the ball over.

Based on the second round, that performance would have been more than good enough if the Eagles' defense had taken care of business or if the Eagles' running game had gotten going the way it usually did in the regular season.

It wound up being much more compelling to note how much better coached and prepared the winning teams appeared to be this weekend. John Harbaugh's 49ers played at a much higher level than Ron Rivera's Panthers. Same with Pete Carroll's Seahawks, who dominated the same coaching staff that got the better of Kelly a week earlier.

It probably isn't shocking that Bill Belichick and John Fox, who coached against each other in a Super Bowl a decade ago, defeated Chuck Pagano and Mike McCoy.

The better team, and the better-coached team, won in each of the four games this weekend. That reinforced the notion that the same was true the week before.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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