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Cory's Corner: Eagles Proved Backups Matter

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Cory's Corner: Eagles Proved Backups Matter

Super Bowl 52 proved one thing: Backups matter.

The Eagles were coached by a career backup, their offensive coordinator was also a backup and the starting quarterback, who just went 3-0 in the playoffs to give Philadelphia its most celebrated championship, was also a backup.

Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and Nick Foles sure made one interesting trio after the Eagles shocked everyone with a 41-33 win over the well-oiled machine of New England.

Carson Wentz injured his left knee Dec. 10. The next day, it became public that it was a torn ACL, which meant his season was over. Many people — including myself — also immediately wrote off the Eagles because Foles only started one game in 2016. He was a long ways from his magical 2013 season of 27 touchdowns and two picks.

Yet, Foles proved how important a backup can be. He looked shaky with a 2-1 record to close out the regular season including a clunker vs. Oakland where he had a 59.4 passer rating by only completing 50 percent of his passes.

But remember, Foles isn’t your average backup. Brett Hundley was groomed for three seasons but he never earned a Pro Bowl bid.

Foles flipped the script in the playoffs to the tune of a 115.7 passer rating and a 73 percent completion percentage. Without Foles, the Eagles wouldn’t have just lost in the divisional round, but would’ve gotten blasted.

Is Foles perfect? Certainly not. He doesn’t have a lightning bolt for an arm and sometimes he holds onto the ball too long. But he proved that he’s a leader and even as a backup, he can galvanize a team.

This is an amazing opportunity for the Eagles. If Wentz doesn’t come back from rehab 100 percent, you can bet that Pederson isn’t going to hesitate by putting Foles under center.

Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports. Even if you have an elite arm as the starter and your team is capable of making a deep playoff run, you owe it to yourself to get a quality backup.

The Packers thought they had one with Hundley, but they were sorely mistaken. He showed trouble making decisions and couldn’t throw the ball down the field consistently.

Rodgers is arguably the best passer in football. He can place it inside a shoebox from 40 yards. However, Rodgers is 34 and has a 15.9 percent chance of injury in 2018 that would force him to miss at least two quarters according to

And that’s why the Packers should go after Chad Henne this offseason. Is Henne a sexy free agent name? No. He turns 33 in July, but most importantly, he has 53 starts under his belt and was neck-and-neck with Blake Bortles for the Jaguars’ starting gig this past summer.

The Packers assumed that Hundley would be good enough to be the backup. Last year, they realized he is at least seven wins less than Rodgers. It’s amazing that Rodgers finished with one more win than Hundley last year and Hundley started two more games.

The Packers proved that the time is now when they completely retooled their front office. Now it is time they went out and proved it by adding proper personnel. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

"However, Rodgers is 34 and has a 15.9 percent chance of injury in 2018 that would force him to miss at least two quarters according to"

Is anyone else at least partially amazed they actually have a website that predicts sports injuries? For some reason a website like this just rubs me the wrong way.

HankScorpio's picture

It strikes me as just plain silly. Paying any attention at all to such a frivolous "statistical analysis" seems like a waste of time.

Qoojo's picture

I think a lot of it is driven by the gambling side.

stockholder's picture

No to Henne. Lets just get people that can work with the coaches. Matt Moore is a better choice. Back ups did matter. And the Packers need help. First many want a cb again in the draft. Just go sign Aaron Colvin. Second Many want an edge rusher. Ok we had peppers. And the only guy that will come close is Trent Murphy. Forget the PEDS. We've given many players a second chance. Third many people want a Te. I like Austin Seferian Jenkins, but he has a past. And getting a Te with a name, or from a winner is going to cost to much. So My choice here is Luke Wilson SEA. He's Fast! These guys won't break the bank. They'll be better than any draft pick.

dobber's picture

I agree on Willson: I think he's a reasonable flier at TE who won't cost much. Even playing behind Graham, he always seems to have a knack for making a play when they need it. As I understand, he's even a reasonable blocker and plays a lot of ST snaps.

I actually think Henne isn't a bad target. At this point, he's likely to accept that role of holding the clipboard and he's proven that he can play at an NFL level. People are going to look at Keenum and Foles and say, "that's what the Packers need!"...well, of course that's what everyone wants as a backup QB (if you can get them for the $2MM Keenum got), but when your starter is #12, those guys aren't coming to GB because the only way they play is if he gets killed. They're not going to get a shot due to erratic play.

Colvin may not be a good fit if the Packers are planning to play mainly press man coverage. Has a track record of concussions and a blown ACL, and a PED suspension in his background ( did he put 20 pounds on between his senior year of college and today?), too. Realistically, you have to assume everyone has a track record of concussions, anymore.

Forget PEDs at your peril...

stockholder's picture

Colvin- yes I know. Still - Back ups are what I was looking at. Colvin is a person of interest already. So I say sign him. Glad you agree on Wilson. PEDs. I'm sure they'll check Murphy out etc. Even A-Rod admitted to taking a muscle builder. Just banned. As long as it's not an illegal drug, we have to be positive now. To many packers have been suspended. Jolly got a second chance. And even Jarod Bush got busted.

holmesmd's picture

If you’re 20 yrs old and do nothing but lift weights & eat, it’s easy to put 20 lbs on in a year. I’ve done it and wasn’t working to get in the NFL. Wrestlers and boxers swing weight wildly sometimes but no one says they’re all on roids!? Lol. Men gain mass & strength through their early 30’s. The genetic specimens that aspire to play in the NFL much more so than average if I was forced to predict. Yes, lots of guys in the NFL probably juice but it’s much more likely to occur after they are in the league, than it is when trying to GET into the league. Way too much scrutiny going in. These kids are also way too young going in. Quiet as kept, most players juice to recover faster, not to be big or strong. If they were not big and strong, they wouldn’t be elite NFL athletes! Just sayin.

dobber's picture

I don't disagree with you on many this case, though, there's smoke and apparently there was fire, too.

The issue from where I stand is that what's on the banned list for PEDs is constantly changing and evolving. These players need to keep up with that, and it sounds like those changes bite a player or two every year. A guy with one PED suspension on his record is one slip up from a lengthy ban. I'm just sayin' that you need to be cognizant of it when you ink a guy to a contract.

dobber's picture




jeremyjjbrown's picture

Peterson did one other thing McCarthy failed to do. He quickly changed the offense to fit Nick Foles. Bennett amd McCarthy failed to adapt in a timely manner, yet again.

Coldworld's picture

This for me is the critical factor. Well said.

Of course, to do so, he first had to to have somebody that, if the offense is tailored to them, represented a credible QB. The Eagles gave that to Doug. The Packers did not give the same to Mike M.

marpag1's picture

I'll disagree and agree at the same time. MM and Pederson made almost the exact same adjustments, the same adjustments that virtually every coach in the league would make. It's not quite the rocket science that people think it is. If you've got your backup in, you run the ball more, you put it on your o-line. You emphasize the quick passing game. You almost never throw deep. Lots of check downs and dump offs, some one step quick throws outside to WRs in space, play an inline TE, maybe even 2, mix in a screen pass now and then, etc...

MM did the EXACT SAME stuff as the Eagles did with Foles, and everybody bitched and moaned... "Oh, McFatty needs to throw downfield, what's with all the 2 and 3 yard routes??? You can't win unless you stretch the field!!"

Pederson did the same thing. The difference is that Foles and the Eagles were able to make it work. Hundley and the Packers, not so much.

If the assumption is that some mysterious "adjustments" can make Hundley into an acceptable QB, that assumption is wrong.

John Kirk's picture

Foles was successful throwing it down field vs. Minnesota and New England.

What Pederson did vs what McCarthy did can't be compared. Doug went back and looked at all the tape of when Foles was successful and tailored the O to fit his past successes. Unfortunately, there was no regular season game tape for Hundley. I never did read that MM went back and studied what made Hundley look like a star to be in preseason his rookie season.

So, Foles swooned at the end. Pederson and staff got to work and fixed it. Hundley got donutted at home and then shutout again at home weeks later. Zero improvement...and then as bad at Detroit inside.

In MMs supposed greatest area of strength he couldn't fix Hundley after telling the world he was his guy and was getting better. He even claimed post season that Hundley got better. I guess there are variances in degrees of terribleness.

billybobton's picture

nobody needed to go back and study, BH was a rookie in pre season
nobody cared
nobody schemed
nobody watched tape
and after that he sucked

John Kirk's picture

I understand what the preseason is for and all about. It doesn't mean there was nothing to glean from watching what it was that he did, because he did do something and was very successful doing it. He was the most exciting rookie player we had in Green Bay in forever that rookie pre-season. I've never seen a glimpse of that guy, again.

Can we finally put to rest "draft and develop" and call it what it really is? It's not so much a philosophy as much as it is the natural order of things. It's like grow up. EVERY single team in the NFL drafts and develops. It's become almost a cult like mantra in Green Bay the way the phrase "draft and develop" is thrown around. It's a distraction. What it really is saying is...we don't like FA, we don't like trades, we like to just do the simple easy thing every other team does. Who can in good conscience defend it as a way of being when every other team does it? What team in the NFL can you list that doesn't draft and develop players? The Green Bay Packers just happen to be one of the very few who chose not to do anything else hiding behind that phrase as if it's some brilliant philosophy no one else could pull off but us. It's a disgrace that it's taken on the life it has and the pride it seems to engender. The last two times our Packers won the SB we had players making contributions who weren't drafted and developed by us. Think about what draft and develop really is. It is exactly what I said it is above. It's just a way to justify being cheap and not doing everything possible to win. Why anyone ever bought in much less bragged about it is one curious study to me. You don't go into a war with a knife and only a knife and brag about it no matter how good you are with it when there are other guys out to get you who have guns and drone support. Ted thought he was the best knife fighter around. He wasn't even a good one at the end and guys were shooting bullets at him and dropping bombs while he had no ability to return fire.

marpag1's picture

"Foles was successful throwing it down field vs. Minnesota and New England."

Bingo. Foles had what was needed to throw down field succesfully. And Hundley? Erm.... he was "not successful." Obviously both teams took a few "shot plays" here and there. But Foles made them work, and Hundley was an abomination.

We are denying reality if we say that Hundley NEVER took a shot downfield, or that McCarthy's game plan so tethered him that he was not allowed to throw the ball more than 5 yards past the LOS.

Don't you remember all of the times when Hundley ducked into the huddle and said, "Awrite, lissen up! We're running the 'Whip It Downfield In The General Direction of Jordy Nelson" play. On three!" And then Hundley would chuck a ball about ten yards over Nelson's head, and out of bounds to boot.

Not trying to be antagonistic, but what sort of 'adjustments' did you want McCarthy to make? What could he possibly have done, beyond what he actually did, to make the Hundley stink-bomb smell better?

To be sure, there is fault to be distributed. TT made a bad draft choice, and MM wasn't able to make the silk purse from the sow's ear. But if there is a fault with McCarthy, it is that he failed in his QB coaching/teaching, not in his playcalling. I don't think any amount of superior playcalling could "fix" Brett Hundley's problems.

John Kirk's picture

Why was Hundley so successful during his rookie year in pre season? Foles looked as bad as Hundley during some of his games this past season. We know Hundley was capable of looking like a player because we all saw it his rookie season. I understand the no game planning stuff but Hundley didn't look that good again in the next two pre-seasons. Never close. What changed? Did we screw him up? He was better the less time he was here and got progressively worse the longer. He did have an ankle issue Year 2, but he didn't look good this pre-season.

In the end, what does it matter if it's play calling or teaching? Either of them being poor nets a poor result. The play calling in Philly wasn't up to snuff and Foles suffered so they went about fixing it. MM should've known Brett wasn't a person to rely on as a backup. That's his wheelhouse. He defended Hundley as ardently and vigorously as Dom Capers over the years. MM looks very very bad in all of this as does Ted. Didn't need a new DC all those years? Sure. Didn't need Hoyer or another QB in your precious QB room? Sure. MM and his dogmatism is old.

In Philly, their guy who looked as bad as Hundley in some games, had a HC who did do something. Had he done nothing and they bowed out vs. Atlanta I'm sure there'd be a fan on their forums asking what Pederson could've possibly done with NIck to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear? The fact our HC couldn't get his QB to improve from getting shutout vs. Baltimore and having to watch them get shutout again, at home, is an indictment on Mike McCarthy. He's the QB whisperer. We're so lucky to have him, the QB guru built Aaron Rodgers, that's why we hired him even though he was OC of the 32nd ranked offense when hired.

MM is not what some would like him sold as or even what he sells himself as. He's a try hard HC. He's not a bright guy. He just tries really really hard with his limited abilities and intelligence. I can respect that he tries hard but I can't respect this is the best we can do. How anyone could try making a case to prop up MM in light of Brett Hundley's complete and utter failure is odd to me.

Chuck Farley's picture

It's that stupid draft develop mentality at work. Hundley avg 8 yds a pass, led team in rush TD's, led league in sacks. He ran a mini too and when he dropped back ska Rogers he got sacked. 3 years nothing changed

dobber's picture

There's nothing stupid about draft and develop. If you ask every GM in the league, they're likely to say that they subscribe to that philosophy because the cap forces you to do so.

The stupid part comes from how the Packers used (or didn't use) other forms of player procurement...

Packer Fan's picture

Foles turned out to be a great backup. Hundley not. I wonder if McCarthy and Van Pelt knew he was that bad. Meaning Hundley couldn't go through his progressions. To me Ven Pelt was let go or not brought back because he whiffed on Hundley. It was his job to prepare Hundley.

Tarynfor12's picture

Don't worry....Hundley...WILL BE... back and I'm sure McCarthy...WILL FIND... a way to have him as the #2 no matter if they sign a veteran or draft another OB for competition. : )

Coldworld's picture

That is a challenge for Murphy via Gutekunst. A good litmus test for both how significant the change of attitude is and of whether the new Murphy imposed structure functions effectively.

holmesmd's picture

Where do you come up with this conjecture?! Lol. I have some of my own: your man crush Fackrell might get cut! You heard it here first.:P

worztik's picture

This article is inane and repetitious and I wasted my time reading it!!! Therefore, no comment... HAHA!!!

worztik's picture

Sorry Cory!!!

Vic_Ketchman's picture

Sort of like your comments?

worztik's picture

Victor!!! I’ve missed ya buddy!!! How ya been???

Qoojo's picture

The anti-comment comment. Careful, or the place might implode as it folds inward on itself.

dobber's picture

"Eagles Proved Backups Matter"

Brett Hundley proved they matter, too, but not quite in the same way...

marpag1's picture

I'm still trying to figure out if there is anyone at all in Packerland who DOESN'T believe that backups matter.

It's a good thing the Eagles have now proven what every sensible person already knew.

Qoojo's picture

Yea, it's a bit of a no brainer. Publish or perish I guess. In other news, the sky is blue, but not always.

John Kirk's picture

Jeff Hostetler, Don Strock and Frank Reich proved that years ago to me.

9 teams won SBs with backup QBs and I wonder how many helped get the team there beyond those 9.

Brett Favre isn't our QB. If he was I'd understand having the Golden Graham Harrell's of the world backing up. This is Aaron Rodgers of the dual broken collarbones, calf, foot, concussion aging multiple injuries QB.

If we were going to play D like the last 7 years the backup would be irrelevant because one of the only DCs who could stop 12 was our own Dom Capers.

Should this D be much improved then backup QB becomes even more important on a team with an aging multiple injuries QB but how do you commit much more to that position if you're giving or going to give 30, already?

billybobton's picture

the problem is not that teddie didn't know backups matter the problem is he had back ups starting

ricky's picture

I've been pushing for Brock Osweiler for some time. The problem with having a good backup, though, is that they are costly. Expect a salary cap hit in the range of $5-7 million a year. For a guy who you hope never sees the field. A guy who will not materially contribute to the team on the field in any capacity except in the worst circumstance imaginable. That is money that will not be going for depth, or situational players, or special teams. That is the balance you need to strike.

kevgk's picture

I hate this line of thinking. Pure anecdotal evidence. Nick Foles is the only backup to win a playoff game this century except Brady and Keenum. Foles has one of the highest all time single season passer ratings under his belt. He won a superbowl on an offense loaded with playmakers, a great oline, and a top defense. What did the packers have? Terrible defense, slow receivers, no tight ends, and a patchwork offensive line. None of the backups on the market are his caliber. Keenum looked like he had been riding benches his whole career when he crumbled in the most important game of his career on an offense with great receivers. You put foles or keenum or even brady on the roster last year and they wouldn't have gotten close to a superbowl. This team needs starter talent not another several million and a roster spot wasted on a bench seat when they could get a good tackle, decent TE or secure burnett aka impact players.
The Eagles proved that a well rounded team of talent is more important than a big bucks QB. Every other backup to play a playoff game proved that a backup qb can't save a team, only keep one alive.

kevgk's picture

I don't see how the Eagles "proved" that backups matter. Foles was a year away from being cut. Him, Brady, and Steve Young are the only backups to ever produce on their team, despite backup qbs coming in every year trying to save teams' seasons. Look at every other time a backup qb has tried to save a playoff run. If anything, these three starting caliber qbs are special because they were backups, not the other way around.

Nonstopdrivel's picture

I'd argue that Kurt Warner could be considered a backup who saved his team's season, even if he technically was the designated Week 1 starter that year. He entered the preseason as the Rams' third-string quarterback, then rose to second string after Tony Banks and Steve Bono were traded away. It was only after Trent Green was lost for the season that Dick Vermeil tabbed Warner as the starter.

4thand1's picture

C'mon people, the Eagles have a distinct advantage of having 2 QB's that don't take a huge cap hit. They were able to sign a lot of FA's to add depth. Goes to show what other teams didn't do with Foles, and the Eagles resigning him was a no brainer. Now they can keep him or trade him for great value. Right up to the SB all the experts were still doubting him and almost all were picking NE.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Foles was signed as insurance to a rookie. So they could afford to pay more, a lot more for a backup. Despite that the Packers still had over 57% more salary cap space allocated to the QB position.

Of course that fact and the fact that he was drafted by the eagles, had a 27TD/2int season with them, Pederson was his QB coach before he [Foles] flopped elsewhere weighed heavily in his return. What other team had a good backup QB last year? What veteran QBs are available to be backups this year who are willing to sign to be a back up and are worth squat? Lobster boy could count them on one hand and have fingers left over I bet.

Coldworld's picture

So because there are a lot of poor QB vets or unproven rookies we should just settle for one? Seems like that is a losing stance.

I would argue there are a number of candidates that would be an upgrade over Hundley on game day. Foles may be better than any of them, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try to get better.

holmesmd's picture

Sure, but at what cost? This team has holes almost everywhere. If #12 stays upright all season and still gets rolled in the playoffs, will you feel better about having a high priced QB backup that cost enough to prevent the team from signing a more impactful FA? I don’t think you’re playing odds properly bud. If #12 misses large chunks of time, these guys are 8-8 anyway. That’s not statistically likely IMO

Arthur Jackson's picture

Your stance is the losing stance. I never said to settle for anything. All I did was point out the fallacy of 'got to have a veteran backup' argument. Foles is the exception. To think otherwise is ignorant beyond pale. Look at the veteran free agent QBs out the and other than ones who will be starters there is only one, maybe, who is worthy if the price isn't to high. That would be Fitzpatrick. The rest are WORSE than Hundley. Paying more for less is dumb as hell. Actually two - Kaepernick would be an excellent backup and is a proven winner.

flackcatcher's picture

All I kept thinking during the last four games, where was Matt Flymn. *(Hell, I can't even spell the mans name right......sigh)

holmesmd's picture


holmesmd's picture

How about poaching Bradford from Minny on a flier?! Keenum won that job and noodle arm Teddy is still in the mix if I’m not mistaken? Bradford lit us up like the 4th of July so why not?! Haha

sheppercheeser's picture

My biggest fear is that we'll keep Hundley even though he has shown nothing in the three years behind a Hall-of-Fame QB. Please, please let him go and let's try again.

dobber's picture

I all but guarantee you he will be in camp when it opens next fall. I'm hoping to not guarantee you that he'll be on the roster in September.

Tundraboy's picture

Likewise. They will definitely give him a few months to see whether or not the light bulb finally turns on in his head.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

But if MM can't accurately evaluate a QB except in real regular season games, how will MM know? Okay, I know I am being a little snarky here.

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