Nick Foles is in a different spot.
He doesn’t want to admit it, but it’s the truth. Last year at this time he was in a battle with Michael Vick and faced an uncertain future. This year, things have changed. He’s the man and has been handed the keys as the Eagles look to improve on last year’s mark and make a playoff run.
"I just think Nick is more comfortable with the situation, and obviously being in his second year you would anticipate that," said head coach Chip Kelly. "But I think now, he's not wondering what's next. He knows what's expected during the offseason program during phase one, during phase two, when you get into the OTAs and when you get into mini-camps. So he can help the younger players.
"That's one thing Nick is really good at is taking the young guys. Right now he's been taking the young guys under his wing and showing them, this is how we do this, this is how we approach this. He's done the same thing with Mark [Sanchez]: This is how we want it to look. This is the vision we want to have for what this thing is supposed to look like. And he can articulate that really well. And what he did last year from a performance standpoint, people are going to listen to him."
The last sentence there is key. By all accounts, Foles' teammates had confidence in him before he went on that run last year. But that confidence has to be on a different level right now, given that they've already seen what he can do in this offense and don't have to project.
Leadership can be overrated, and given that the Eagles have placed such an emphasis on character, the players should be able to police themselves now more than ever before. But when Foles needs to speak up, his words should carry more weight than they did a year ago. He's earned that credibility.
One more note on Foles. Pro Football Focus has some interesting numbers on play-action from last year. We know that with the Eagles everything starts with the run game. The numbers on their play-action passes though are staggering.
Foles threw 14 touchdowns and no interceptions on play-action passes last year, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. His QB rating on play-action throws was 134.9, second to only Peyton Manning.
And the emphasis on these throws was to get the ball downfield. Per PFF, Foles' average target on play-action throws was 14.6 yards downfield. On non-play action throws, it was 7.5 yards downfield.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks about visiting with the Eagles and Kelly this offseason.
Three thoughts on the Eagles' offense with notes on Jordan Matthews and others.
Will Chris Polk see an increased role in 2014?
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com has Lane Johnson as one of his breakout candidates:
Johnson is as physically gifted an offensive lineman as there is in the NFL. As he continues to refine his game, he could go from a rookie who was trying to weather the storm in the first quarter of the season to one will look to begin dominating in year two.
Tight end Zach Ertz should be helped by a full offseason, writes the Inquirer's Zach Berman:
Ertz and running back Darren Sproles are two players who can be on the field on successive plays yet can line up in different spots.
"I think that's the biggest thing: You can't be subbing guys in and out with the [tight] ends we have," Ertz said. "We're able to do that [keep tight ends on the field], whether it's in-line or out wide."
My sources tell me Intern Josh has something good cooking.