Eagles Wake-Up Call: Foles Keeps On Ticking


NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles

Whenever asked about Nick Foles‘ toughness, Chip Kelly always points back to the beating Foles used to take when Oregon and Arizona faced off.

“I think you’ve got to respect Nick.  I’ve said it all along.  I saw him do it in college.  We hit the heck out of him when we were at Oregon and he played at Arizona,” said Kelly, “and he just kept getting up and throwing and standing in there.”

In the three games where Kelly’s Ducks met Foles’ Wildcats, Foles was sacked eight times. And that only begins to tell the story.

“He got hit a lot. I hit him quite a bit,” said Casey Matthews. “I actually hurt my neck I tried to hit him so hard. He was facing away and I hit him and I felt my neck crunch. He got up from it. The ball went down, he got up, no big deal. But it kind of kills your morale a little bit. That’s just Nick, though. He’s going to try and stay in the game no matter what.”

Oregon won all three matchups but despite all the punishment, Foles averaged 387 yards through the air and tossed 10 touchdowns to two interceptions against Kelly’s boys.

“I think it’s a very underrated quality for a quarterback.  It’s not something you can see at a pro day.  It’s not something you can see at the Combine,” said Kelly. “They’re never getting hit.  They’re doing everything in shorts and T‑shirts and all those other things.  But you’ve really got to study the tape.  It’s a quality in this league that you have to have.  Because no matter who you are playing that position in this league, you’re going to get hit.  It’s a difficult deal that you’re dealing with in terms of you’ve got some big, angry people running after you and trying to take you down.  To stand in there and not worry about it and know you’re going to get hit, but you have to deliver the ball on time is a really underrated quality at that position.  Right now he’s really shown what I’ve seen all along from him.  He did it in college, he did it in the pros.  I think our players here understood it.  It didn’t take Sunday’s game for them to admire his toughness.  They’ve seen that before from him.”

Foles hasn’t exactly been blessed with stout offensive lines throughout his career. By all accounts, the situation wasn’t pretty his senior year at Arizona. He was sacked 23 times in 12 games and was frequently under duress. You can argue that his draft stock was negatively impacted as a result. His rookie year with the Eagles wasn’t a whole lot better, as injury after injury decimated the front. Last year he found stability, but this season not so much. Foles is operating without his starting right tackle, center and left guard. His starting right guard is now at tackle. It’s kind of a mess. But that’s nothing new.

“I’ve never looked at my o-line like that on any level. I’ve always had confidence in the guys that are in there to do their jobs,” said Foles. “It’s not like a seven-on-seven drill where you’re dropping back and it’s easy to throw. What makes a quarterback is being able to make plays when you don’t have time or something breaks down. But I do know that ever since I began playing the game of football, every single lineman I’ve had has blocked his butt off for me — back from Pee-Wee when we went 0-10 until now. I’ve always had confidence in those guys.”

That confidence hasn’t always been warranted, but Foles has found a way to make it work.

There have been injuries along the way — including a broken hand in 2012 and a concussion last season — but as he showed after the Chris Baker hit Sunday afternoon and plenty times before then,  he typically is able to get off the mat.

“Obviously being able to take a hit is big in this league. A lot of guys get injured. Nick, he’s pretty tough,” said Matthews. “It seems like they’ve had a couple guys tee off on him but he’s been able to get up. It definitely helps to be able to take a hit…or ten.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

A look at whether the Eagles followed protocol after LeSean McCoy‘s hit to the head.

The latest injury news, including an update on Mychal Kendricks.

Eagles moving up in the power rankings. 

“The attention this year is so much more.” Sheil on McCoy’s state of mind.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mike Sielski looks at the Kelly-Jim Harbaugh relationship.

Sunday will mark the first time that Kelly and Harbaugh will have coached against each other since their days in the Pac-10, when they split their two games – Stanford upsetting No. 7-ranked Oregon in 2009, the Ducks routing the Cardinal by 21 points the following season. Just as the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll has, Harbaugh and Kelly have gone a long way in shattering the stereotype that a college coach can’t survive or thrive in the NFL, and each football man has done it in his own football way.

“I don’t lump everybody in,” Kelly said. “Everybody tries to paint with one brush and color everybody one thing. So when one college coach isn’t successful, ‘college coaches can’t do it.’ But when a college coach is successful, college coaches can do it. I think you’ve got to look at the individual.”

Fran Duffy of PhiladelphiaEagles.com breaks out the coaches tape to dissect the 49ers.

Defensively, the 49ers have had issues, and I went through them earlier in this piece. After watching them, however, I don’t think it’s a matter of talent. Justin Smith is still one of the best defensive linemen in football, and is a disruptive force up front. Patrick Willis is one of the most intimidating presences at the linebacker position in the entire NFL. Eric Reid is a big, athletic safety with all the physical tools you want on the back end. Free agent addition Antoine Bethea is one of the best tackling safeties in football. There are a number of corners with great length on the roster, and they drafted a very talented defensive back in the first round out of Northern Illinois named Jimmie Ward.

Personally, I thought Ward was a better fit for today’s NFL than a player like Calvin Pryor because of his ability to play in space. He is listed as a safety, but plays in the slot in San Francisco’s nickel defense (they’ve played in nickel in over 50 percent of their snaps in 2014). He struggled in a tough matchup against Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, which is to be expected. He’s a very talented player inside, and as he continues to learn how to play the slot position I think he will turn into one of the more talented players in the league at that spot.

COMING UP

We’ll roll out our predictions for Eagles-Niners.