Foles puts Dallas disappointment way behind him
OAKLAND, Calif. - Jason Kelce said Nick Foles had that "look."
After the worst game of his short NFL career, a one-game absence because of a concussion and the subsequent doubts about his long-term potential, Foles entered the week of preparation for the Oakland Raiders with a sense of purpose.
"This one, he had a little bit different look in his eye going into the game," Kelce said.
Foles was so focused during Sunday's 49-20 victory over the Raiders that when he was asked if he had a moment when he sensed it was going to be a special day, he said: "Shoot, when the game was over."
And when the game ended and Al Davis' eternal flame was extinguished, Foles had not only proved that he could rebound from the Cowboys game, and that he remained in the argument for quarterback of the future, he had tied an NFL record for touchdown passes in a game with seven.
"You just try to stay steady," Foles said. "You just want to keep going. No matter if you're doing good or bad, you just try to forget about that last play and you keep grinding."
Foles could have given the same answer after the Dallas debacle. In fact, he said something similar. But having the extra time off because of the concussion may have helped him, oddly enough, clear his head. According to Kelce, Foles took every measure necessary to make sure that he would not repeat his Cowboys performance.
"It was more just his mannerisms," Kelce said. "He was obviously upset with how he played before in the Dallas game. This week it was more like - actually the whole team was down this week - but he was much more vocal and involved in everything."
Chip Kelly and the Eagles never suggested that Sunday's game would make or break Foles. It's safe to say they knew he wouldn't be as bad. You look at the entire picture and there has been more positive than negative.
But Foles failed in a big spot and many were writing him off.
"Everyone started acting like his career was over after that Dallas game," Kelce said. "They forgot that he had played some good football before that. A lot of that criticism will probably be halted for one week in Philadelphia."
Foles was nearly perfect. He was better than he was in Tampa when he finished with a 133.3 passer rating and won NFC offensive player of the week honors. He completed 22 of 28 passes Sunday for 406 yards and seven touchdowns. He still hasn't thrown an interception this season.
"That's what we all expected - the guys that have been around him every day," Kelly said. "So maybe he showed some other people. I think what happened in the Dallas game was the exception and not the rule."
But how did the Eagles go about proving that the Cowboys game, when Foles completed just 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards and missed open receiver after open receiver, was an anomaly? And what did Kelly do schematically to help his quarterback?
According to the coach, he did nothing different.
"We called a lot of plays that we've called the last two weeks," Kelly said. "We just executed them."
The first drive was instrumental, though.
Foles, on a designed carry, ran once to keep the defense honest. He picked up only 4 yards, but the point had been made. He also hit on short passes, the most important a bubble screen to Riley Cooper that he read pre-snap when the Eagles had three-on-two numbers outside.
Cooper darted 42 yards, and the Eagles were in business. Foles also hit on intermediate throws, the most important a 19-yard completion to Jeff Maehl over the middle on third and 13.
And perhaps most important of all, he didn't get hit early like he did in the Dallas game. In fact, Foles had time in the pocket for most of the day, and when he didn't, he smoothly moved outside the pocket and threw on the run.
"He's a good athlete. He's not a blazer, I think we all understand that," Kelly said. "He really moves around and keeps things alive."
Foles connected with tight end Zach Ertz for a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter when he moved to his right. He hooked up with Cooper again, this time for a 5-yard touchdown in the third when he scrambled to his right.
"That's kind of the one aspect we haven't seen a lot of so far," Ertz said. "That was more Mike's thing - scramble and finding big plays."
But he was also tremendous in the pocket, hitting Cooper for a 63-yard bomb that netted the receiver his second of three scores. Foles later found Jackson deep over the middle for 59 yards.
Everything seemed to work. The tempo was the fastest it has been since the opener in Washington. The success was a by-product of the stability at quarterback, as Kelly has said conversely about the ineffectiveness of the offense coming from instability at the position.
As for the future, who knows what Foles' record-setting day will mean? He's been up. He's been down. He's up again. It's best just to enjoy the effort for a week.
Kelly, of course, was asked the inevitable question about his starting quarterback going forward. He joked that he guessed before the news conference that the subject would be addressed 10 questions in.
For the record, it was the 14th question.