Eagles playing for Nick Foles, say locker room will 'never be the same' without him

For all intents and purposes, the quarterback position in Philadelphia belongs to Carson Wentz.

Wentz, after all, is just about everything you could want at the NFL’s most important spot: Big body, elite athleticism, proven poise, natural leadership. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has echoed as much, repeatedly deeming Wentz his QB of the future and face of the franchise almost three years after Philly invested lots to draft the North Dakota State product second overall.

Yet Wentz isn’t the hottest story, let alone the hottest quarterback, in Philadelphia entering the playoffs as the Eagles look to defend their Super Bowl title.

That would be Nick Foles.

For the second straight season, Foles is the man in charge of leading the Birds into the playoffs after an injury to Wentz, and for the second straight season, it sure looks like No. 9 has brought his team to life. Almost exactly a year after ripping off one of the greatest playoff runs in recent NFL history, Foles has led the Eagles to three straight wins, including upsets of the division-leading Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams, and into a wild card showdown with the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Now, he’s tasked with playing hero again — and adding to one of the league’s most inexplicably magnificent careers ever seen.

Beyond Foles’ big-time performances under the bright lights, the record-breaking backup is perhaps best known for his humility.

“Nick is, first and foremost, a great person,” Eagles tight end Zach Ertz told NBC Sports Philadelphia this week. “He’s always calm and collected, he’s always positive.”

There probably isn’t a better way to explain why Foles opted to happily return to Philly as Wentz’s backup this season despite winning Super Bowl MVP, dethroning this generation’s greatest dynasty and proving himself as at least a high-ceiling option as a starter. And it’s why Ertz and other Eagles say they’re playing in part for Foles as they begin the playoffs. With Wentz all but assured his job once he returns in 2019, teammates know Foles and his contract figure to be headed elsewhere once the season is over.

“This locker room, we all know that this locker room will never be the same,” wide receiver Alshon Jeffery told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

It’s not the first time the Eagles have rallied around Foles. (Did you hear what happened in 2017?) And it’s not just because of his inspired play. The veteran quarterback has mirrored Wentz in his public devotion to Jesus Christ, and that faith has often led to obvious examples of unifying selflessness, like sticking around after Super Bowl LII. Even while discussing this past summer the potential of being richly rewarded for his all-time Eagles victory, Foles made it clear that he finds his identity not in his reputation as a player but in his worth as a follower of Christ.

“People still don’t quite get it,” he said on the Sports Spectrum podcast. “Today, in our age, it’s all about getting first, it’s all about winning the race, it’s all about having that title, (but) I’ve never cared for the title of starting quarterback … I’m just a quarterback. I’m just who I am.”

Foles and the Eagles (9-7) will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears (12-4) in the first round of the 2018 NFL playoffs this Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:40 p.m. ET.

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