KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Nick Foles’ seven months with the Kansas City Chiefs went by so fast that in another seven months, we’ll forget it ever happened. Foles got into three games during his brief time in Kansas City and helped his team win two of them, with the third being a mop-up performance.
Now he’s gone, having signed as a free agent with one of his former teams, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs, of course, were the ones who set him free. That happened last week when they declined to exercise their option on the two-year contract Foles signed during training camp last summer.
The Chiefs are left without a veteran backup, their most pressing concern in this matter. Between Chase Daniel and then Foles, the Chiefs have had an experienced backup to starter Alex Smith in their four seasons with Andy Reid as head coach. Their quarterbacks besides Smith are Tyler Bray and Joel Stave, and neither has taken so much as a snap in a regular-season NFL game.
But in watching Foles sign with another team, the Chiefs have also eliminated one of the candidates to become Smith’s eventual replacement.
Maybe Foles shouldn’t have been a strong candidate in the first place. His career disintegrated between his extraordinary 2013 season for the Eagles and the time he joined the Chiefs. The two bad seasons in between marked him as a journeyman, and that’s well what Foles could be for the rest of his career.
A couple of factors suggest otherwise, though. Foles’ 2013 season, one that included 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, was spectacular. Few quarterbacks, Smith included, have ever played that well over the course of a season. If Foles could do that once, isn’t it in him to have a similar season at some point?
Then there was the one game last season in which Smith and Foles equally shared time. It happened in October against the Colts in Indianapolis, where Smith was twice knocked from the game with what seemed to be a concussion. The Chiefs later said it wasn’t.
At any rate, Smith and Foles each got a fair chance to run the offense. The passing game worked much better with Foles (16-of-22 for 223 yards and two touchdowns) at quarterback than with Smith (9-of-19, 127 yards, one TD).
That’s a small sample size, but the Colts game is still the best and most accurate test of what the Chiefs were capable of with each player as their quarterback.
Foles made his only start of the season against the Jaguars the next week when the Chiefs gave Smith the week off. The Chiefs won again, but Foles didn’t play nearly as well as he did the week before. The Chiefs had some similarly poor offensive games during the season with Smith as their quarterback.
If they retained Foles and had him replace Smith, whether in 2017 or sometime beyond, the Chiefs would have been gambling on Foles’ bigger upside. In the end, the Chiefs opted for the relative security of Smith. He’s never had the big season like Foles had for Philadelphia in 2013. Smith also hasn’t had the rotten season that Foles had for the Rams in 2015, at least not since he’s been with the Chiefs.
It might take more than the next seven months, but we’ll find out eventually whether the Chiefs took the right path.