Chip Kelly first unveiled the line after the Eagles selected Matt Barkley in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.
“I’m going to steal a quote from [former Cleveland Browns head coach] Sam Rutigliano,” Kelly said. “He used to say, ‘With a quarterback, it’s like a tea bag. You don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water.’ ”
Kelly recycled the quote last summer when Nick Foles and Michael Vick were preparing to square off for the starting job. But now, he can probably fold that reference up and put it in a safe place because it doesn’t need to be brought up again in regards to the 2014 season.
There’s no predicting how Foles will perform going forward (that’s not to say we won’t try), but if there’s one thing he’s proven, it’s that he can bounce back. In the middle of last season, Foles found himself in the hottest of waters. With a chance to stake claim to the starting job against the Cowboys, he turned in his worst game of the season, suffering a concussion in the process.
“After the concussion, he came by to check on me, make sure everything was OK, because that’s just how Chip is,” Foles recalled. “He really cares about us as players. That’s why you see us going as hard as we do, because we have great coaches here that make it fun to play. The big thing is that he was always supportive.
“Then when I got to play against Oakland, it wasn’t anything where he had to pull me into the office and make sure, you know, it was just very simple. Went in there, he told me what was going to happen, and I was ready to go.”
In every NFL player’s career, there are “turning point” moments. And there’s no question that Foles’ seven-touchdown performance was one of them. With his future in question, he came up big, grabbed the starting job and helped the Eagles get to the playoffs.
“Going into that game, it was just one of those weeks where you’re coming off the concussion, you’re just really paying attention to every single detail, you’re trying to really focus in even more, because you remember your last play was a concussion,” Foles said. ” ‘Alright, can I still do this? Can I still react like I need to?’ You really don’t know until the game starts. But after the first drive of the Oakland game, I knew that my reactions and everything were there.”
Kelly, meanwhile, points to a different example. The Eagles were shut out for most of the first half in the playoff game against the Saints. But the offense put up 17 points in the second half to give the Birds the lead with under five minutes left.
“He’s not going to get down on himself,” Kelly said. “He’s going to continue to kind of bounce back and learn from what just went on and try not to make a mistake that he made earlier. Early in the Saints game he kind of was just OK, but I think when you watched how he played in the second half, I thought he came out and played really, really well in the second half against the Saints. I think that’s an example of him kind of learning from what went on in the first half and not getting down on himself: ‘Whenever the next opportunity comes I’m going to go take advantage of it.’ ”
Other than some post-game handshakes after Arizona-Oregon games in college, Kelly and Foles didn’t really know each other well before their partnership began in Philadelphia. And the relationship is still at a relatively early stage. Kelly needs to find out whether Foles can show an even better grasp of the offense, take fewer sacks and continue his stellar decision-making in 2014.
But after last year’s campaign, he has an answer to the hot water question.