Wake-Up Call: Foles’ Toughness Getting Tested

Whenever a question about Nick Foles‘ toughness comes up, Chip Kelly points to a play back in 2011, when Kelly and the Oregon Ducks faced Foles and the Arizona Wildcats.

“I mean, we knocked the tar out of him when we played them. We knocked the snot out of him when we played him,” said Kelly. “Watch the tape when he completed a 13-yard pass against us left-handed. We chinned him. He was going down. Switches the ball to his left hand and he still throws it for a completion, then gets up and makes another play against us. I’ve admired him.”

“I remember that,” said Foles. “I thought my back was broke after I got up from that. I didn’t even know I could throw left-handed to tell you the truth.”

The left-handed toss was unnatural and looked awkward, but he was able to make it work. Same might be said for Foles’ involvement in the ground attack this year. Believe it or not, he outrushed Robert Griffin III 47-44 Sunday. Averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored a touchdown on the ground; that was one of several times where he kept it on a read option and made something out of it.

“Nick Foles, Michael Vick, they are pretty similar,” joked Jason Avant.

They are similar in one way: neither can execute a graceful slide. Vick, one of the finest athletes of all time, stumbles forward or just crumples to the ground. Foles’ looks like more of a crash landing. In one sequence Sunday, Foles hit the deck just before getting his clock cleaned by an oncoming blur of red and white.

“Nick is not a runner,” said Cary Williams. “I think it’s apparent. We’ve seen that a couple times. It’s great that Nick is out there and he’s running around but you never want to see a guy that is not a scrambling quarterback, a guy that’s not used to that kind of situation, taking a hit. I would like him to slide. Nick, if you’d like to come to Cary Williams Sliding School, you can. It’s open. Free of charge. Get with Riley Cooper, guys that played baseball growing up, it’s real simple. It’s really not that hard.

“Big guy, not used to running, being out there in the open. But he played tremendous. For the last couple weeks he has been a superstar on our team. We lean heavily on him. We need him to play well, don’t want to put him in situations where…you’ve got to protect yourself, man.”

Foles suffered a broken hand at the end of last season. He played through a groin injury earlier  this year. Got knocked out of the Dallas game with a concussion. Against Washington he tweaked his shoulder after being taken down by Brian Orakpo in the second quarter. He worked in-between plays that drive on keeping his shoulder  loose while Matt Barkley warmed up on the sideline, and ultimately stayed in.

“He is a warrior,” said Cooper. “He is a tough kid and a great quarterback. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Foles has proven, like he did back in ’11 against the Ducks, that he’ll gladly take a hit in exchange for a positive play. But the Eagles are just beginning to find some quarterback stability. The coaching staff needs to decide what is necessary and what is not when it comes to exposing the young quarterback to punishment. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt Foles to spend the bye week at the Cary Williams Sliding School as his teammate suggested.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil gives his observations from Sunday’s win over Washington.

“It’s all for naught if we don’t continue to build from here.” Kelly looks big picture.

The defense felt right at home on that final Redskins drive.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Rich Hofmann has reached the following conclusion about this football team.

They are legitimate.

Yes, the NFC East is down — but what you are witnessing is real. At this point, it is silly to suggest otherwise. This offense has moved the ball against pretty much everybody, with either Michael Vick or Foles at quarterback. This defense has improved steadily since an ugly first month of the season. Skepticism is fine — they did play all of the good quarterbacks early in the schedule, and they were backpedaling seriously at the end of this game — but skepticism is becoming a loser’s bet.

LeSean McCoy surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season. More from Geoff Mosher.

At at his current pace, McCoy will finish with 1,468 rushing yards this season, which would be the second-best total in franchise history behind Wilbert Montgomery’s 1,512 in 1979.

McCoy, in the second year of a big-time contract extension, is already tied with Montgomery, Staley and his boyhood idol — fellow Harrisburg, Pa., native Ricky Watters — for the franchise’s most 1,000-yard seasons.

McCoy left the game briefly with a hamstring injury, but indicated afterwards it was more of a cramp.

COMING UP

We’ll speak to Kelly at 1.

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