In his time at Westlake High School, Nick Foles established records for career passing yards (5,658) and touchdowns (56). That’s particularly impressive because the previous owner of those records was Drew Brees.
Foles is 24 years old and Brees is 34. By the time Foles was ready for high school, Brees was already a couple years deep into his NFL career. Though they both grew up in Austin, Texas, they didn’t actually meet until last season when the Eagles played at the Saints.
But that’s not to say that Brees had no impact on Foles’ journey.
“You have a role model from the same area that did a lot for that [high school]. Westlake won a state championship in ’96, and it was something that we aspired to do when I was there. We played in the state championship game my senior year and we ended up losing it,” said Foles.
“But it was definitely something that we looked to. We played 10 years apart, we both played in the state championship. They had a great team back then. He was a great quarterback in high school, college, and he’s doing a great job in the NFL.”
Foles was on the bench when the Eagles and Saints played last November. Brees was a ho-hum 21-of-27 for 239 yards with a pair of touchdowns in a 28-13 New Orleans win. A lot has changed since then. Foles has enjoyed a meteoric rise under head coach Chip Kelly, and the Eagles went from dysfunctional to division champs.
And this time around the game will be played in the elements. Temperatures are expected to be below freezing for kickoff Saturday night. That’s not exactly Austin weather. Brees’ numbers dipped significantly in outdoor games this season. Foles is gaining experience playing in the elements, and said there are adjustments a quarterback needs to make for cold-weather games.
“It’s just a different feel,” said Foles. “It’s a different feel in the air, the ball has a little different grip. Sometimes balls that feel good when it’s humid are very, very slick in this climate. But I think the big thing is that you just try to play the game. The ball is in your hand, you’ve gotta make a play. So however you adjust to it — so me, I’m going to do whatever I can, whether it’s putting a little extra on the ball, or really stressing flicking my wrist, different things like that, I’m going to do that. You just adjust to the climate when you’re playing in it.”
Kelly referred to Brees as a Hall-of-Fame quarterback this week, and is expecting him to be at his best for Saturday’s playoff game, regardless of the weather.
Foles has a similar respect for the veteran QB.
“When he is out there, he’s a warrior. He fires that thing. There are not many guys who can make the throws he makes,” said Foles. “You can just see his leadership. And that’s something I’ve always done, is look up to him as a leader.”
It was brought up to Foles that Brees has not only the state championship but a Super Bowl title under his belt. Something else to aspire to?
“He’s had a tremendous career. I know all of Westlake is proud of what he has done, and Austin and the people that support him,” said Foles. “But right now, when I think about all that stuff, it’s a day-to-day thing for us. We have to keep working every single day. Hopefully someday we’ll have an opportunity to play in a game like that. But right now, we’re very fortunate to be in this position, and we have to go out there and give it our best.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Three highlights from Billy Davis‘ press conference, courtesy of Mr. Kapadia.
Jaws believes the weather in Philly will affect Brees.
A look at all the records that fell in Kelly’s first regular season.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
ESPN’s John McTigue says the increased use of play-action has aided this Eagles offense.
The Eagles used the zone read 304 times this season, 135 times more than the next highest team. The zone read offers a natural setup for play action, but the Eagles used a play fake on 24 percent of their passes the first eight games. Over the last eight games, that usage increased to 39 percent.
The Eagles’ play action passes were effective throughout the season, but adding more attempts and the more efficient Foles made the plays a staple of the offense.
Les Bowen got Howie Roseman‘s take on Kelly’s success in Year One.
Roseman said yesterday he is not surprised to be in the playoffs in Kelly’s first season, though Kelly is the first Eagles coach ever to win the NFC East in his initial season. Has anything surprised him, then?
“Top to bottom, the incredible buy-in they’ve had, since [the players] reported in April,” Roseman said. “Usually, when you have a regime change, you have some outliers. When you look at our roster, every single one of our players has worked incredibly hard and tried to do whatever they were capable of to improve.”
We’ll speak to Kelly at 11:40 prior to practice, and Saints head coach Sean Payton in the afternoon.