Eagles-Jaguars: Coffee, Cody and Clayton
(973espn.com) — The dichotomy of the Eagles' old quarterback room has been dissected to death. Carson Wentz's talent and Type-A personality vs. Nick Foles' calmness and willingness to let Doug Pederson's offense work for him.
The gunslinger opposed to the distributor. The almost-regular season MVP against the Super Bowl MVP. The starting pitcher and the closer. The superstar vs. the streak-shooter.
Inside the walls of the NovaCare Complex, however, Nick Foles' absence is being felt in a more run-of-the-mill kind of way.
“I always credit Nick for getting me into liking coffee," Wentz joked earlier this week in advance of a trip to the First Coast of Florida to take on Foles and his new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason. "Nick was always making coffee every morning and I was never a big coffee guy and I tried the stuff he makes. I credit Nick for getting me into coffee a little bit.”
Foles' Barista skills are top-notch, a sentiment echoed by Mike Groh, Press Taylor, Nate Sudfeld and Zach Ertz, along with Wentz and many others.
The Eagles weren't just running on Dunkin' either even though that wonderful chain is a team sponsor. The concoction Foles was whipping up was Bulletproof coffee with a little brain octane oil and protein mixed in. Foles was so loyal to the brand he's now teamed up with it over the summer.
"Everything I do off-the-field helps with my preparation on-the-field. I notice a tangible and positive difference in how I perform when I use Bulletproof products,” Foles said back in June when the deal was announced. “I’ve been making hundreds of cups of Bulletproof Coffee for teammates and coaches for years now."
Preseason football has never meant less in the NFL, at least for the starters and while the allure of Wentz vs. Foles creates some excitement for the NFL it can't deliver because Doug Marrone isn't going to risk Foles' health in a meaningless environment and the same holds true with Doug Pederson when it comes to Wentz.
But, at least everyone can catch up with a cup of coffee and settle down to watch the real narrative on Thursday, Cody Kessler returning to Jacksonville in an effort to ramp up preparation for his presumed short-term future as the back-up to Wentz after Nate Sudfeld's broken left wrist in the preseason opener against Tennessee.
"I think he's handled it well," Pederson said when discussing Kessler's ascension to the second spot in practice. "He's still processing and working through the details of the offense. He’s working through also working with some different guys which takes a little time, but he's handled everything really well. Excited for another opportunity again this week, and see his progression."
Kessler was with Jacksonville last season, signed as Blake Bortles' caddie until being elevated late in a disappointing Jags' season and finishing 2-2 as a starter.
"Obviously, we had a tough year, and everything didn’t go as planned but it was really valuable experience,” Kessler said.
Ironically Foles steered Kessler toward Philadelphia raving about the culture and the coaching staff to the Southern Cal product as Kessler tries to find his foothold after stints in Cleveland and with the Jags.
“It’s just another opportunity," Kessler said. "You don’t know how many you’re going to get in this league, so you need to take advantage when you have the opportunity."
For Kessler, he wants to emulate Foles and make the Eagles offense work for him by processing quickly and getting the football out on time.
“Mastering the offense is always the goal,” he said. “The more you understand, the quicker the decisions and you kind of understand where the football needs to go based on what the defense is giving you. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable and I think it will show on the field.”
Rookie Clayton Thorson will also get plenty of playing time and an opportunity to improve on a pretty dismal 0.0 passer rating preseason debut, something he blamed on mechanical issues
“I was chucking the ball," Thorson joked. "I just got to come back [against the Jags] and execute."
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh believes you will see a better Thorson in Florida.
“He's come back and just gone back to work," Groh said of the rookie's practice week. "You wouldn't know anything different, and that's part of being a rookie quarterback in this league. You're going to have your ups and downs. You're going to take your lumps, and he's just come back to work."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen