Eagles Wake-Up Call: Growing Confidence In the Kid

As rookie tackle Dennis Kelly put it, there were no “movie-quality quotes” out of Nick Foles in the final moments against the Bucs Sunday. He did not grab a facemask or launch into any inspirational speeches. Yet Andy Reid said afterwards that Foles was able to rally his teammates down the stretch and made everyone play better.

How did he do it?

“Well, when your quarterback shows confidence and poise, it just gives everybody that boost that they need,” said Jeremy Maclin. “The ball is in his hands, and for him to be confident and for him to be showing the leadership skills that he has, it makes everybody else rally around him.

“You guys are seeing Nick Foles grow into a phenomenal quarterback right in front of your eyes.”

There are definitely reasons to be encouraged. Foles has gotten better in each of his four starts despite mounting injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and is showing a sound understanding of the game. Not all of it is obvious. Take, for instance, the 10-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. While some passing options may have been available, the play design was a screen and if Foles threw it once he broke the pocket the Eagles would have been flagged for an ineligible man downfield.

“That speaks credit to Nick, understanding that you can’t throw that ball because there is a lineman already downfield,” said Maclin.

Also not in the stat sheet is the amount of plays that Foles successfully checked to against the Bucs.

“Nick throughout the game on several occassions, if he wants the play, he’s got it. He’s very good that way. He audibled many times throughout the game,” said Mornhinweg. “He did an outstanding jobs with his audibles and hey if he wants a play, he takes ownership of it.”

You saw that on the final play of the game when Foles told his coaches what he wanted to run. Even in a moment as important as that, Andy Reid rolled with him.

“He trusts me. That’s big when you have a coach that trusts you in that situation,” said Foles. “I told him I was comfortable with the play and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

There will be overreaction in Philadelphia this week. The Foles mania that cropped up during the preseason will be back in full effect. To balance things out, there will be detractors who will point to the Bucs’ porous secondary and the fact that the game was virtually meaningless.

Somewhere in the middle will be the truth when it comes to Foles and the significance of his outing in Tampa. But it’s hard to deny that there is significance.

“How important is it for a young guy? I’ll tell you it’s a step forward,” said Reid. “He had to battle. It just wasn’t a smooth event. We had our ups and downs, ebbs and flows of the game, and he hung with it. I thought he made people around him better.”

Added Mornhinweg: ”It certainly with no doubt gives the man confidence. I’m certain it gives other people around him — which is just as important — great confidence as well.”

 WHAT YOU MISSED

Lots of Foles coverage:

With the game in his hands, the rookie delivered.

Reid talks about the decision to let Foles call the final play.

Sheil gives his instant observations from the win over Tampa.

Another offensive weapon down, as Brent Celek leaves with a concussion.

When the day started, the Eagles were positioned to get the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft. What would that net them?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Dan Graziano analyzes the defense’s performance:

In the first game since the firing of defensive line coach Jim Washburn, the Eagles got sacks from defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins, seemed to ditch the much-maligned “Wide 9″ alignment Washburn instituted last year and held Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman to 189 yards on 14-of-34 passing. They didn’t create any turnovers, and it was their seventh game in a row without an interception, but the big guys up front and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did a much better job this week of limiting the opposing team’s passing attack. And even once the Bucs appeared to figure things out in the second half, they couldn’t get far enough ahead to hold off the comeback.

Eric Adelson of Yahoo! adds some further color to the excitment around Foles’ night:

In fact, one of the first things Foles saw after the game was Reid, waiting in the locker room for him as he came off the field. Reid cupped his right hand around the back of Foles’ neck, leaned in to congratulate him, and patted him on the shoulder as the quarterback walked into a mob of teammates screaming “Nick Foles! Nick Foles!”

“We don’t look at him as a rookie,” Avant said.

Maybe not. But Eagles fans definitely have reason to look at him as a good reason to wait til next year.

COMING UP

With Thursday’s game against the Bengals right around the corner, Monday is a work day for the Eagles. They have a walkthrough practice at 3:30. Reid will not have his normal day-after press conference.

  • mdeaglesfan

    When your teammates have confidence in you, it shows. You don’t have to be flashy and do everything, nor be lazy about things. Just play confident, smart and let other guys do it too. I wonder whats going on in vick’s mind now and what he’s thinking about this.

  • trixman

    With Foles’ success, will Andy & Marty abandon the balanced game plan they ran the previous two weeks? Their pass-happy tendency may work when you play a team like Tampa (1st against the run, last against the pass), but I suspect the more balanced run-pass ratio would lead to better long-term success. It will also keep Foles upright – I believe he was sacked once over all his prior starts, but six times in this game alone.

  • maka makanani

    It probably was a whole lack of communication from the start of the season, between the players and coaches, which threw the media and fan base into mixed emotions.

    It was quite evident, when Foles faced AR and Mornhingweg, they were looking over some play to execute and Foles chose a play, based on what Tampa’s D choice of style were. Obviously, it was the final seconds of the game, here’s Foles saying he’s feeling comftable and would go with a certain style of execution to his coaches.

    Think about it for a second, remember Mornhingweg saying things about Vick was given a play-call from him, he said that he hope that Vick doesn’t go and envision his own style of playing against his calling? Sure, most of us remembers it. So why didn’t Vick implement an assertiveness to the type of execution, he’s comftable with, with the coaches?
    Lack of trust? In himself? About the OL? Coaches expectations? These are where communications are lacking in the coaches/players relations.

    And it did hurt the team, more than anything else, because coaches have to trust a player to go out and execute. Each player have their comfort zone and knows where they stand, regarding film-watching. Coaches will know more about what they can do for the player (individually) by understanding their comfort zone.

    Corners and safeties, must communicate each others comfort zones. DL’s and LB’s must communicate each others comfort zones. Nick, must constantly find his comfort zone, as the plays develops. He knows the OL and the rest of the offense will do what they need to do. He can’t dictate what the defense will do, except to find the common denominator and hopes to outdo them through multiple plays. Once he finds the nominal comfort zone, he can communicate them to the coaches and create exceptional executions, which the coaches will watch and make better play-callings.

    Seeing things from the sideline is alot different than seeing things folding out in front of you. Coaches won’t know what you’re seeing, compared to what they see from the outside in. This is one of the reasons Vick gets pounded so much, because he plays the system and doesn’t find any comfort zone. Vick was being Vick in the system, not being Vick as he should have been.

    Look at Peyton Manning, he communicates with his coaches about his comfort zones, his coaches are to understand him and scheme their play-calling as they see them unfolds before them, as well as changing the call with audibles. Vick never found his comfort zone, because of the system and ended up losing player after player to injuries. He doesn’t adjust to how the plays folds out with the backups. Nick does it fairly well as soon as he can find his comfort zone. He still gets pounded numerous times, but he’s constantly looking for his comfort zone. He needs to keep communicating with his coaches, for both to be successful, play after play. Having such a relationship can have a big impact on the coaches and players.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      HUH? I have the distinct impression that MM doesn’t like M. Vick and prob never really did. There’s been plenty of “rumors” suggesting that MM LOVED Nick Foles and him and the assistants had been campaigning for him to get the job. Whether it’s true or not it does seem MM has a sweet spot for Foles, any starting QB will have a prob with that. Also what MM was calling often was NOT in the best interest of Vick considering the line situation. VIck was being a good company man – not complaining etc. – but MM did him no favors. Anywho – Foles had a good game – I’m still not sold on him for a variety of reasons – but we will see.

      • The Guru

        Shocking that’s your opinion. Everyone is out to get Vick!

        • Petite11bryant

          Vick has shown his toughness; let’s see if “Cinderella” can make it home from the ball before HE ( Foles) turns into a pumpkin.

          • The Guru

            Vick has also shown he cannot win in this league. Foles has a good chance to be a Flacco/Schaub type. I’d take that any day over Vick.

          • fran35

            I agree. I am not sure what Foles can do. He has promise. However, we know what Vick can do and I would rather move on. Plus, at 16 Million next year, Vick is just not worth it. I have no faith with Vick under center.

          • atlvickfan

            Yeah, because Flacco and Schaub have won so much. Schaub sure looked like a winner tonight.

          • The Guru

            Flacco was a dropped TD pass away from the Super Bowl….and Schaub is 11-2. Nice try though Marcus.

      • maka makanani

        I can understand that, but I never once knew or realizes that Mornhingweg had a distaste for Vick.

        Like you said Vick kept quiet and did as was told. It does tells you that there’s a lack of communication.

        Also, Vick could not adjust when the backups were playing, it comes with playing in the system. He was supposed to learn to adjust on the fly, no matter who is playing on the line. Vick said it once, you can’t teach an old guy to do something he isn’t capable of doing, but to continue to get better with what he’s capable of.

        I wasn’t saying I’m sold on Foles, just that he is showing some initiatives that he can play in the NFL. There is much to playing in the NFL and it’s only his first year, which half it has past him by. Who knows he might not have a good year next year, maybe he will.

        • Petite11bryant

          All Vick got was a bad line that didn’t protect him and if A. Reid is supposed to be his friend, he sure does’t need any enemies

          • maka makanani

            Obviously, both of them can do without enemies, but the threshold seems to be within reach. Just hope that next year, will be a much better time for all us, fans and media alike.

        • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

          Yeah. You can’t adjust to a line that let’s defenders through as soon as you snap the ball. This line is a completely re-figured line – and – as I said last week – would do poorly if MM and crew passed, passed and passed some more. And they did – BUT they were still heads and shoulders above the line VIck played behind.

          • The Guru

            You mean the one with Herremans? Yeah removing a pro bowl caliber tackle and replacing him with a 5th round rookie is a MUCH better line than Vick played behind!

          • maka makanani

            That’s true, I see your point. Vick is still a viable QB, whether he becomes a starter or a backup. I still like Vick and the fact that he’s a dual threat to any team.

            Both Vick and Foles would be viable in backing up each other, whichever will be starter. Having both of them again next year would give me some comfort in that position, because both are good at what they do in their own way.

            I could say that Foles does compliment Vick, because Vick doesn’t loft balls in the air, he has a better arm between the 2 of them.

          • fran35

            Wrong. The line was horrible yesterday. As bad as any game this year. What you saw was a QB who stepped up into the pocket and had a good feel for the pocket, something Vick has none of. If Vick had played yesterday, he would have been sacked 8-9 times because he only complicates the bad O line pla y with his pooor pocket presence. King Dunlap and Kelly were getting torched all game long yesterday. At least Vick had Herremans

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            WRONG. Demeetress Bell? Watkins? Come on. Vick NEVER had Scott. The line was bad yesterday and putrid earlier in the year. Foles had a clean pocket at times at least and that’s more than I can say for any Vick line configuration.

          • fran35

            Wait. He had Herremans. And last I checked, Foles was under duress the ENTIRE game yesterday and succeeded despite being blasted continuously. Jake Scott? He blew block after block yesterday. King Dunlap gave up at least 2 sacks. Face it, Foles reacts to the pressure better than Vick. Can he throw the deep ball as well as Vick? Heck no. But he does everything else as well, if not better. Vick is horrible without his speed. The next time that Vick reads a defense or anticipates a route it will be his first time. So, take your Vick love to Buffalo or whatever team picks his ass off the scrap heap come February.

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          The kid had a pretty good passing game against the worse pass defense in the NFL. What’s more impressive is the punishment he took from the Bucs pass rush. 13 hits and 6 sacks indicates he has heart and like Vick, no line protection.

          • maka makanani

            Yeah, I know. And like Vick, he kept the chain moving. And hope he can continue on improvements, he has alot to be desire. Like most QB after the rookie years, their ceilings took a drop, but i’m hoping he will be as fine as he can be. He broke Drew Brees high school record, so he’s got room for improvement and become one of the stellar QB for the Eagles.

          • fran35

            He had a GREAT passing game agaist the worst pass defense in the league. He had a pretty good game last week against Dallas, who actually has a decent defense.

    • jeff

      holy cow, do you expect people to actually read that?

  • LostInChiTown

    New discussion in considering the next head coach: who’s best equipped to develop Nick Foles? Say what you want about Andy Reid – he can develop a QB and passing game. Kolb, Feeley, McNabb, Garcia, and Detmer all thrived in this offense and went on to do very little after leaving (Garcia was good before getting here though).

    What coach keeps Foles ascending rather than doing the conventional post-Andy nosedive? At this point, it’s not reason enough to keep Andy, but if the next coach causes Foles to regress, we might be sorry Reid is gone.