Eagles Wake-Up Call: Foles Riding the Wave
At this point last season, Nick Foles was preparing to make his first start under Chip Kelly.
It was Week 6 and Michael Vick had injured his hamstring against the Giants the game prior and Foles, after losing the quarterback competition to Vick that summer, was about to get another crack at it. He did well in Tampa that week, tossing three touchdowns and no picks en route to a 31-20 Eagles win. Any optimism that came from that performance was quickly squashed in the following game when Foles stumbled hard against Dallas. He left that dismal outing with a concussion and zero assurances that he would start another game for the Eagles. Many analysts and fans alike were convinced that the quarterback of the future was not on the roster.
Then came Oakland and up rose Foles. His seven-TD afternoon was the start of an eight-game string that opened some eyes, set some records, and convinced some souls that Foles was the real deal.
If we take a step back and look at the stock chart, that’s the way it’s gone since Foles arrived in Philly as a third-round pick in 2012. There have been big spikes in both directions, and fan sentiment has followed in kind. Right now he’s in an ebb, and there is concern about what his inconsistent play means when it comes to the long-term stability of the position.
The Eagles aren’t in that mode. They typically wait to get off the in-season roller coaster before making any big-picture decisions about the future of their club. As for Foles, he’s just trying to keep it all in perspective.
“You don’t want to let this thing get too big,” he said. “You don’t want a couple games where you don’t play like you can to get too big because I know I’m going to continue to grow. I feel like I’m growing every single day with what we’ve faced in the game, what I’ve faced, the adversity. You can’t teach that on a practice field. The adversity you face is in the game, it’s in life, and you have to continue to grind through it. And that’s what’s great about our team: we’ve faced adversity throughout the year, and we’re building a culture here where we can stick together through the course of a game.”
Through five games, Foles has eight touchdowns and eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumbles lost.) His completion percentage (59.1) ranks 26th in the NFL and his QB rating (82.5) 23rd, this after completing 64 percent of his throws and posting the best quarterback rating (119.2) a year ago.
“I think everybody is still hung on 27‑2, right? We all know what I’m referring to?” asked offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. “I think everybody is stuck on that a little bit, but we’re a different team. We have different players in there. We’re facing different opponents that are playing us differently, and we’re grinding through it.”
The “different players” Shurmur is referring to are on the offensive line. There’s little doubt that the leaks up front have played a part in knocking Foles out of his comfort zone. He’s also now without DeSean Jackson and is playing against defenses that have a better understanding of both his tendencies and Kelly’s system.
You can argue that Foles has shown through 21 professional starts that he is an inconsistent signal-caller with a tendency to go bad without warning. You can also make the case that he has shown that he can play at an elite level and at 25 years old, is just working out the kinks as he establishes himself as a high-end NFL quarterback.
Wherever you come down on the argument, the fact remains that the Eagles are 4-1 despite the quarterback’s uneven play, which means the ongoing evaluation is happening within a pretty healthy environment.
“I think that’s a cool thing, and we’re standing here getting ready to play the Giants in our sixth game, and we’ve got four wins. I think that’s what you build on,” said Shurmur. “It’s not always pretty and I think that’s the really cool thing about our sport; you grind it out, and there’s sometimes when some units play better than others. We’re still a little bit unsettled up front, and we’re getting back and we’re getting more coordinated there, and so you just keep grinding through it.
“I think, we as coaches, we kind of ‑‑ I don’t know, we kind of grow off of that. And I think teams do that.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Game review of the Eagles’ offense from Mr. Kapadia.
“Thank God I didn’t tear Fletcher’s ACL.” A scary moment for Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin.
The latest on the status of DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks for Sunday night’s game.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank talked to Duce Staley about the decision to remove LeSean McCoy down the stretch in favor of Darren Sproles.
Kelly gives Staley complete authority over when each running back is on the field, and Staley certainly opened some eyes Sunday when he replaced LeSean McCoy — a two-time All-Pro — with Sproles with the game on the line.
Sproles has put up far better numbers this year than McCoy, but it was still surprising to see McCoy on the sideline with the Eagles trying to run out the clock on the Rams.
Staley said there was no drama in the decision, no motive other than to get the freshest back on the field…
“What people have to understand about our offense is we’re not looking to see who’s in the game, we’re looking to see do we need to get another guy out there who’s fresh, do we need to get the guy who’s out there a blow, and that’s what happened,” Staley said.
“So when I said, ‘Sproles, go,’ it was no problem. Twenty-five (McCoy) came straight to the sideline.”
Patience has been the key to Eli Manning‘s turnaround, according to Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News.
It may be the best play in the Giants’ playbook. And it was there long before new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo installed this whole new-fangled, no-huddle West Coast offense. And it involves Eli Manning throwing the ball to no one, using discretion instead of desperation and chucking the ball out of bounds. For all the brand new target the Giants have given him, the team has rewired its gunslinging quarterback, constantly reminding him that it’s OK to throw the ball away.
“If we have to throw the ball away, then that isn’t always the worst play,” new QB coach Danny Langsdorf told the Daily News. “That might be the best decision on a particular play, because it’s the only one he has that’s a good option.”…
It’s been a quiet philosophical adjustment for Manning, and that’s partly why he’s on pace to throw a career-high 36 TDs, why he’s on pace for just 15 picks, and why he’s completing 66.3% of his passes, easily a career-best.
Practice at 10:45. We’ll speak with Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy afterwards.