NFC Championship Game: Foles, Keenum have career ties
Philadelphia — Nick Foles contemplated retirement after a miserable season with the Rams in which he ended up losing his starting job to Case Keenum.
That’s just one spin of a unique quarterback carousel that’ll be on display when Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) in the NFC championship game Sunday.
“It’s pretty wild,” Foles said. “Case’s success and the way he plays doesn’t surprise me because him and I were together and we prepared together. We were around each other every day. But I think the big message there is no matter what happens, you’ve just got to keep believing in yourself, keep working hard and just never give up.”
The cycle began when former Eagles coach Chip Kelly traded Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford in March 2015. A day later, the Rams acquired Keenum from the Houston Texans to back up Foles.
Foles went 4-7 in 11 starts for the Rams before he was benched for Keenum. Meanwhile, Bradford had a decent season with the Eagles, but was traded to Minnesota a week before the 2016 season opener to pave the way for Carson Wentz.
The Vikings needed Bradford to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford had a career year in 2016.
Foles asked for his release from the Rams after they moved to Los Angeles and drafted Jared Goff No. 1, one pick ahead of Wentz. Foles seriously considered hanging up the cleats before Andy Reid — who drafted him in third round in Philadelphia in 2012 — persuaded him to join the Kansas City Chiefs as a backup to Alex Smith.
Foles played well in two games in relief and then returned to Philly on a two-year deal to provide insurance behind Wentz this season. Keenum helped groom Goff in Los Angeles last year and then went to Minnesota to be the backup to Bradford.
Keenum stepped into the lineup in September after Bradford was injured and had by far the best season of his career, passing for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Foles took over in Philadelphia after Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14.
Now, the former teammates are one win away from starting in the Super Bowl.
“I know this is what all of you guys predicted back in the day, a Foles vs. Keenum NFC championship,” Keenum joked. “So good job to all of you guys who predicted that.”
The Tennessee Titans kicked off their search for a new head coach Thursday interviewing defensive coordinators Mike Vrabel and Steve Wilks.
... Steve Sarkisian will return as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator despite a decline in production in his debut 2017 season.
... The Steelers didn’t look very far for offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s replacement, promoting longtime quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to the position on Thursday.
... Former Raiders head coach Tom Cable is back on the Oakland staff to coach the offensive line.
Vikings at Eagles
Kickoff: 6:40 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Financial Field
Line: Vikings by 3