Nick Foles was definitely playing the part Friday night. After one of the scoring drives, he spent the defensive series over the shoulder of Marty Mornhinweg, studying still shots and diagnosing the Browns defense. He then walked over to the bench and gave each of his offensive linemen a pat on the chest and a few words of praise before strapping the helmet back on and leading the charge.
The latest line: 12-of-19 for 146 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, a 99.9 quarterback rating and a couple of dazzlers.
The next time the Eagles take to these sidelines, in a little over two weeks from now, the scene will be much different. “Things will be a lot more serious,” as veteran tackle Cullen Jenkins put it. It will be Michael Vick‘s show, assuming health.
For a few weeks, though, the spotlight has belonged to the rookie out of Arizona, and he took very naturally to it.
“I’m having a blast, just to go out there and play the game,” said Foles. “There’s nothing like it when you go out there and you’re on the field with the guys you work with all week, it’s special. In preseason I’m learning a lot, I’m developing relationships with all the guys. That’s key when you’re playing this, you’re not only a team you’re sort of a family, you’re out there playing together to achieve one goal. To go out there with the guys I work with every day and the coaches, that really special, and we have fun doing it.”
Foles mania is sure to be out of control in the coming days. (“Folesadelphia!” one member of the Eagles quipped after the game.) Some of it is well-earned, some of it will be completely ridiculous. What we don’t know, what can’t truly be deciphered in this element, is how much of this bottled success would transfer to the show.
“They did throw a few blitzes at us and it looked like he handled those well,” said Andy Reid. “He knew where the action was coming from, he knew where to go with the ball. For what’s been thrown at him he’s handled well. The other part’s the unknown if he has to play in the regular season.”
There is reason to be optimistic that his game will still thrive outside of the confines of the preseason. He entered Friday’s game against Cleveland with the highest passer rating of any quarterback in exhibition play and now has six touchdowns to two interceptions, but the most impressive stat may be this: Foles hasn’t been sacked yet.
The signal-caller was sure to credit his offensive line multiple times for this accomplishment, but reluctantly admitted he has a part in it as well when pressed.
“That just goes with playing the position. You have to be able to feel it,” said Foles. “Feel where it’s coming from with your peripherals and then off the snap you can see where the guys are. You know, it’s all peripherals because you’re keeping your eyes downfield. You really just have to have a feel.”
Foles has also made a couple throws in each of his three outings that have opened eyes. Against Cleveland, the two highlights were to Damaris Johnson — one a perfectly-placed pass over Sheldon Brown for a 23-yard touchdown that was eventually overturned; the second a 40-yarder down the left sideline. He is showing a precision that some of his teammates have grown to expect.
“At practice he’s dropping back at the 40-yard line, putting balls on the front pylon at 60 yards,” said Trent Edwards. “He can make every throw. I’m not surprised, but you guys might be.”
“He has times of greatness, really,” added Mychal Kendricks. “He’s just so calm. It’s really, really nice to see him in there with the poise that he has. He’s really comfortable.”
Reid said afterwards that both Vick and Mike Kafka were on the mend and back at the NovaCare throwing Friday. The expectation is that Vick will be ready to be under center September 9 against these Browns in the regular-season opener.
With that, the Nick Foles show will close. But curiosity has been piqued, and there’s a growing anticipation to see what the second act might look like.
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