Marty Readies the Rookie

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg talk over plays on the sidelines. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

There was a fair amount of rally-round-the-flag rhetoric from Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg Thursday -- Mornhinweg said he "loves" the situation the team is in, "us against everybody" -- but underneath, it was possible to discern a level of concern about the difficulties of preparing rookie quarterback Nick Foles for his first NFL start, on the road Sunday at Washington.

"He will see some things he hasn't seen before, and how he reacts to those things will be key," said Mornhinweg, who said in his experience, defenses go one of two ways in such a situation -- they pull out all the tricks and try to confuse the kid, or they play it straight and dare him to beat them.

"Nick Foles is bustin' to prepare himself for this ballgame," Mornhinweg said. "There's quite a bit of excitement in this situation."

Of course, the Eagles haven't officially acknowledged Foles is starting, but Michael Vick remains at home resting and the idea that he will suddenly be cleared from last Sunday's concussion in time to play this week is ridiculous.

"There are certain things (Foles) can do very, wery well," said Mornhinweg, who said the gameplan would be tailored to Foles' strengths. (Translation -- Marty will be working from a limited menu.)

"Nick Foles has excellent command. It appears he's an excellent leader," said Mornhinweg, who referenced his experience with rookie QB Jeff Garcia when Mornhinweg was the 49ers' offensive coordinator.

Asked what drew the team to Foles during the draft process, Mornhinweg said: "He's big. He's got a big arm. I thought he carried Arizona as best he could. They really had problems personnelwise, injurywise. Tough both physically and mentally."


Special teams coordinator Bobby April agonized over the 78-yard punt return touchdown last Sunday that gave Dallas the lead for good in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 38-23 loss.

"That was as critical a play as we've had all year," said April, who said he blamed himself for not getting the importance of lane integrity "ingrained" in the minds of his coverage personnel. April said the season has been a disappointment, that in several games, dominant special teams could have turned a loss into a victory.

April seemed reluctant to finger the talent level as a problem, though he did acknowledge that once returner Dwyane Harris got past punter Mat McBriar on the sideline, the return became a "footrace" and "genes and chromosomes" take over at that point.

April also was asked about kicker Alex Henery's missed extra point, on which he said Henery's plant foot slipped, twisting him as he kicked.

April also blamed himself for the timeout the Birds had to call before a field goal try, when tackle King Dunlap, upset over a penalty call, left the field with the offense and wasn't lined up to block for Henery.

"I can understand any definition fans might put on the ineptitude of that game," said April, who said he knows from his own upbringing that families work hard to make the money to buy tickets, and they have a right to be angry.