Foles Hopes to Find His Rhythm vs. Falcons
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Poor preseason or not the Eagles are Nick Foles' team for now.
Until the organization's medical staff decides it's safe to take the shrink-wrap off the face of the franchise Carson Wentz, Philadelphia will ride with the ultimate EKG quarterback and the ups and downs that entails.
Last time Foles was on the field in a meaningful environment he was spiking as high as he ever has, even more impressive than any 27-and-2 season or seven touchdowns in one game.
Foles, the only 22-17 quarterback in league history who has more memorabilia in the Hall of Fame than most Hall of Famers, outdueled the greatest of them all, Tom Brady, on the biggest stage on them all, Super Bowl LII.
“My middle ground is if I have one touchdown and no interceptions, it’s a bad game,” Foles assessed. “I’ve set that bar high, I know that.”
And the encore to the Super Bowl has started with a soap opera more engaging than "General Hospital" ever has been, whether or not the hard-working Wentz would make it back from ACL and LCL surgery in just under nine months to face the Atlanta Falcons on the opening night of the 2018 NFL season.
The emotion of that has even turned the normally level-headed Doug Pederson into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde over the past two weeks until he and the organization finally pulled the parachute and admitted the league's best insurance policy has been invoked.
For how long only the doctors know but Foles believes he's ready to go even after a poor preseason in which the Eagles failed to score a point when he was at the controls.
Foles, though, has always been known as more of a gamer than a practice player and has often admitted he uses practice and preseason games to push the envelope a little bit to try to see if he can get away with some things that he normally wouldn't try when the result counts.
"Obviously, making mistakes isn't fun, it's the worst part of the game but you're able to sit back, watch film, deal with the emotions of throwing a pick, a strip-sack," Foles said. "I can learn from it and move forward."
The other part is that Foles will be getting back some key pieces to the offense who haven't played in the preseason like left tackle Jason Peters and running back Darren Sproles and others who've barely played like receiver Nelson Agholor and backs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.
Asked why he expects the offense to improve Pederson pointed directly to that.
"One is the fact they've had a chance to work together," the coach explained. " ...We spent a couple days last week, and then, of course, all this week. We really can dive into more of the playbook, obviously, and things that he's comfortable with, the offense is comfortable with. Just get more reps at it this week – the timing, the accuracy, decision-making."
To both Foles and Pederson, it's been a productive week.
"I think we've had a great week of practice," Foles assessed. " ... I thought guys were out there grinding, giving it everything they had. The attention to detail was great. "
"Obviously, you won't know until Thursday night, but it's been a good week," Pederson added.
For Foles, his storybook ride in the postseason began against the Falcons last season but he didn't play all that well in the first 30 minutes before getting in a rhythm that turned him into an unstoppable force against both Minnesota and New England.
A former basketball player Foles used that sport to explain his ups and downs.
"If I go play pickup basketball right now, I'm not going to be very good because I haven't played in a long time." he said. "But if I play for a couple weeks, I'll be back to who I used to be. I'll be able to shoot everywhere, I'll probably be able to dunk again, a little bit, and it's the same with football. ... I have to get the feel for the game."
And how do we get the 40-point scorer instead of the shooting guard who is having an off night?
"Just playing," Foles said of finding his groove. " ... You have to get a rhythm, you have to feel the dribble, you have to feel your shot. You have to play the game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen