Tom Brady and Nick Foles Are More Similar Than You Think
Super Bowl LII is just days away and the excitement is reaching unprecedented heights. The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, the top seeds from the AFC and NFC, respectively, are preparing to make history in the biggest game of the season.
It's impossible to avoid the all-out media blitz that surrounds the occasion. Super Bowl fever is here once again and as is often the case, at the center of all this hype is the quarterbacks.
It's really nothing new. After all, quarterback is arguably the most scrutinized position in all of professional sports. But this year, the stories surrounding the two men who will be under center on Sunday are of particular interest.
On one hand, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has done it all and is preparing to make an unprecedented 37th playoff start. Meanwhile, his opponent, Eagles signal-caller Nick Foles, has only made 39 career regular season starts and is gearing up for his fourth postseason appearance.
Brady has played in seven Super Bowls, winning five of them. Tom Terrific is a 13-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro, and four-time Super Bowl MVP. Foles has been to one Pro Bowl in his career, and has never started a full 16-game season. So clearly, these two men have nothing in common, right?
A Little Background
While many will eschew any comparisons between the future Hall of Famer and his younger contemporary, their stories converge in some highly intriguing ways. Let's start from the beginning.
In 2000, Brady was a tall, lanky kid coming out of Michigan. In spite of compiling a career quarterback rating of 134.9 in college, he wasn't a hot commodity on draft day, slipping all the way to the sixth round (199th overall). Six quarterbacks were selected before the future legend.
In 2012, Foles was a tall, lanky kid coming out of Arizona. In spite of compiling a career quarterback rating of 138.1 in college, he wasn't a hot commodity on draft day, slipping to the third round (88th overall). Six quarterbacks were selected before the future Super Bowl starter.
A Tale of Two Sophomores
Brady would sit on the bench during his rookie year, as the Patriots already had Drew Bledsoe locked in as the starter. However, as a sophomore, Brady was thrust into action after Bledsoe suffered an injury, and the youngster never looked back, leading the Patriots to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Foles was also drafted to a team with an established veteran (Michael Vick) in place. While Foles did ultimately start six games as a rookie, it wasn't until his sophomore season that he took over as the full-time signal-caller after Vick suffered another injury.
Foles didn't take the Eagles to a Super Bowl, but he did lead them to the playoffs while earning a Pro Bowl selection (where he was named Offensive MVP) and setting an NFL record with a touchdown-to-interception ration of 27-to-2. However, that record only held up for three years as someone bested it with a ratio of 28-to-2 in 2016.
That someone, was Tom Brady.
Foles, of course, will get his chance to match Brady's 2001 feat of coming off the bench to lead his team to a Super Bowl, as Carson Wentz was the Eagles' starter for much of 2017 before an unfortunate ACL tear ended his MVP-caliber season. He isn't going to hold onto the job as Brady did 16 years prior, but he's likely earned himself another chance to start for someone else in the very near future.
Each man has enjoyed some playoff success, albeit in very different ways. Brady is Brady, and has dominated for much of his career with a postseason record of 27-9. And he's been at his best recently, having compiled a quarterback rating over 100.0 in six of his last nine playoff games. Even more impressive? The Patriots' thrilling comeback win in Super Bowl LI was not one of those six games.
On the other hand, Foles is 2-1 in postseason starts, but actually owns the best career playoff passer rating in NFL history (116.4). It's only been three games, but the accomplishment remains incredible.
In the here and now, both men are playing excellent football. Brady has thrown for 627 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions during his two playoff starts. The veteran has produced a completion percentage of 67.0, a quarterback rating of 105.0, and is averaging 6.89 yards per passing attempt.
His upcoming opponent has thrown for 598 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions during the same span, but has been even more efficient than Brady. In fact, the 29-year-old's completion percentage of 77.8, quarterback rating of 122.1, and yards per attempt of 9.49 would have led the NFL in each respective category during the 2017 regular season.
Yes, it's only been two games and much of that production is due to his dominance against the Minnesota Vikings in a 38-7 NFC Championship victory, but Foles' sterling performance can't be overlooked. Can he sustain his momentum against the dynasty of the 21st century, though?
On Sunday, February 5th, two tall, lanky college kids that very few predicted would find NFL success will be the starting quarterbacks of Super Bowl LII. While their respective paths to this moment have been characterized by many differences, it's impossible to ignore some of the more prominent similarities.
While Brady has built up one of the game's most lengthy resumes and Foles is merely scratching the surface, there is no questioning each man's contributions to the success of his organization. Will Brady secure an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl ring? Will Foles pull off the upset and lead the Eagles to their first Lombardi trophy in franchise history?
Those questions will be answered soon enough, but getting there is half the fun. For these two quarterbacks, the journey has been every bit as important as the destination.