What's the key for Nick Foles? 'Rhythm' | Early Birds

Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles practice again at 12:30 p.m. Doug Pederson will be back at the lectern at 10:30 a.m. for a Thursday news conference. Players will speak to reporters after practice. Jay Ajayi will be among those you’ll hear from on Thursday.

  • Nick Foles identified the “key word” when comparing his hot and cold games: Rhythm. “How do you get rhythm is the question,” Foles said. His answer? “I think it’s when you’re just reacting and playing and you’re not thinking,” he said. If it were that easy, he wouldn’t have such a wide variance. I’ve compared Foles to a streaky three-point shooter. When he’s hot, you feed him. When he’s not, it could get ugly. Some of the burden is on the play-calling. Doug Pederson knows the value of rhythm for Foles, and he tries to tailor the play calls to accommodate that early rhythm. “The quick, short passing game obviously can help, the running game can help,” Pederson said. “Somewhere in there, if you can take a shot, you take a shot and whether you hit, like first play of the game, if you hit it or not, that kind of gets your blood flowing a little bit. And sometimes even tempo, hurry-up, no-huddle offense can get your quarterback into that kind of rhythm.”
  • Three of the four quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs would not necessarily be considered franchise quarterbacks: Foles, Minnesota’s Case Keenum, and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles. All three of those teams have top-four defenses and top-seven rushing offenses, so defense-and-running works to compensate for the lack of a top quarterback. (Of course, the Eagles played most the season with Carson Wentz, who is a MVP candidate, so they’re different than Jacksonville and Minnesota.) Pederson think there’s a takeaway to Foles, Keenum, and Bortles lasting this far. “I’ve said this a lot of times and I’ll say it again: It’s not about one guy,” Pederson said. “Even Tom Brady has weapons on offense and [the Patriots are] playing good defense, and it’s the same way with the other three teams. They have got weapons around the quarterback. They all play great defense. And listen, ultimately, bottom line, it comes down to who can take care of the football.”
  • Chris Long had the dog mask that’s become popular in Philadelphia in his locker on Wednesday, and he knows there will be plenty covering the faces of Eagles fans on Sunday. “I would hope it’s like the Purge, minus the violence,” Long told reporters, referencing the 2013 movie. “Minus all the bad stuff, just the masks.” Long and Lane Johnson have created a phenomenon in Philadelphia considering the mask sold out on Amazon.com, although they missed out a business opportunity. “Me and Lane, we haven’t gotten a cut, which is bad business,” Long joked. Johnson is making up for it, though: He’s selling a T-shirt that shows Long and him wearing the mask and reads, “Home dogs gonna eat.”  All the proceeds are going to Philadelphia schools.

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— Zach Berman

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, left, and Nick Foles talk as the Philadelphia Eagles practice for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings in Philadelphia, PA on January 17, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

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Stefen Wisniewski is not even on the injury report, which should be good news for Eagles. His production at left guard has been key; you’re right about there being a difference when he’s on the field. He missed time in December with an ankle injury, but he’s been fine since Week 17. He’s not even limited at practice.

Wisniewski played center earlier in his career, and when he’s on the field, there’s a lot of football savvy on the offensive line. There was a quote from offensive coordinator Frank Reich two weeks ago that stood out: “He’s like a quarterback. He’s like [Jason] Kelce. There’s very few guys that I could say could be in the same zip code mentally as Kelce as far as everything that Kelce does up front, but Wiz is definitely in the same zip code.” I think that’s benefited Kelce, too. His best seasons come when he doesn’t need to compensate for the guards around him. You’re seeing that this year.