Chip Kelly said that they didn’t dwell on Nick Foles‘ bad outing against the Cowboys the first time around. They try to give each game equal value regardless of outcome so they looked at the mistakes, attempted to correct them and moved on.
That’s different than saying the memory of that game was quickly extracted and stored in some dark, forbidden place. You can carry the experiences of past failures with you and be either guided or crippled by them, and it appears Foles is choosing the former.
“He’s very analytical of himself, he’s very critical of himself in a constructive way, of how do I improve on this,” said Kelly. “But the first part of it, and kind of the whole thing we talk to our team about all the time, is that we don’t make excuses. If we don’t do something right, you’ve got to admit to it first before you can correct it. If you continue to make an excuse then you are not acknowledging you made a mistake in the first place. I think our guys have a healthy dose of confidence in themselves and understand that you do have to make mistakes to continue to grow and continue to get outside your comfort level.
“One thing with Nick is I think he’s very critical of himself but in a constructive way, and I think that shows up in the little teeny details that I think separates you from being good to going to great.”
Foles, as you will be reminded many times this week, had the worst performance of his professional career against Dallas back on October 20, going 11-of-29 for 80 yards in a 17-3 loss. He was knocked out that game late with a concussion, and Michael Vick was back under center the next week . It was unknown how long Foles would have to wait for his next opportunity. The answer was not very long at all, as Vick re-injured his hamstring against New York, giving Foles a shot at redemption in Oakland just two weeks after the Cowboys debacle. He responded by throwing seven touchdowns.
“I just know about his performance when he went back on the field against Oakland…I think it was really his performance that made a statement to everybody,” said Kelly.
What has happened from that moment on has been pretty astonishing.
Over the last seven games, Foles has a 126.6 passer rating, which is the highest ever by an Eagle over a seven-game stretch. His overall quarterback rating of 118.8 ranks third in NFL history behind Aaron Rodgers (122.5 in 2011) and Peyton Manning (121.1 in 2004). Sunday night was one of his best outings of the season. His 84 percent completion rate was a team record since single-game statistics started being tracked in 1960.
The Eagles are 6-1 since Foles took the reigns in Oakland. Kelly said quarterback stability has been a big reason why.
“There’s a lot to that. And when we did stumble there was a lot of instability at the quarterback position. When you have a guy and you can get settled at it, I think it helps because people are going to know where he is going to be, when the ball is going to be released, what his makeup is and where we are going to be as an offense. I think it’s been a huge part of our success over these last couple of games.”
More from Kelly’s day-after press conference:
— The head coach was asked if a team can carry momentum into the next game following a big win.
“You’d like to say that but not in this league,” said Kelly. “I think you better get rid of it, whether it’s a win or a loss, very quickly. I’ll give Dallas credit, they give up a 23-point lead to Green Bay the week before and the sky is falling and then they come back and beat Washington. This league will test you from the standpoint of, it’s not what you did last week it’s what you do this week and it’s about how you prepare, so when we get back to work here tomorrow we better understand that.”
— On the team’s mindset heading into the Dallas game: “As I told those guys last night, for us the playoffs just start this week. If we are fortunate enough to win on Sunday then we get an opportunity to play again. If we don’t win on Sunday then we don’t play again. It’s very black and white to us. I don’t think I have to hammer that home in terms of that this is the biggest game, because it is.”
— Kelly will adjust the schedule to ensure that the players get some down time for the holiday. They will get a little extra work in on Christmas Eve and December 26 to make up for a lighter day on Christmas.
— Earl Wolff re-aggravated his knee injury early in the second quarter and did not return. Kelly suggested the decision to not re-insert him into the lineup was more precautionary. “We got a lead and we felt like we didn’t need to put him back out there,” said Kelly. “We’ll see how he goes this week.”
— Tony Romo has received a lot of criticism over the years for his shortcomings in big games late in the season. How does Kelly view him?
“Fourth-and-six, game on the line, scrambles, keeps the ball alive, hits DeMarco Murray and they win the game [against Washington Sunday]. I’m always on what you did last and what he did last was pretty special. The way he avoided the rush, kept drives alive. I think he is as talented of a quarterback as there is in this league,” said Kelly. “He’s one of the really, really good quarterbacks we’ve seen, and I said that the first time we’ve played him. If you’re a fan of just quarterback play, he’s pretty special. We’ve got our work cut out for [us] but it’s a challenge we’re excited to go against.”