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Nick Foles says he's still confident, despite another bad outing | Bob Ford

Bob Ford, STAFF COLUMNIST

Updated: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 5:58 PM

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles dives for the football after fumbling a snap against the Dallas Cowboys.

If it’s any consolation for Eagles fans after watching the somewhat uninspiring performance of Nick Foles against the Cowboys on Sunday, at least Carson Wentz’s chances of winning the MVP award got a lot better.

Eagles' quarterback Nick Foles is hit while throwing the ball by Dallas' #90, DeMarcus Lawrence, left, and pressured by #59, Anthony Hitchens, right in the first quarter of Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday December 31, 2017.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott dives trying for a first down as Eagles linebacker Najee Goode tackles him in the 2nd quarter in the game at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Prescott came up two yards short but the Eagles lost 6-0. At right is Eagles lineback Mychal Kendricks. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld, center, is sacked by Dallas' #56, Datone Jones, left, and #90, DeMarcus Lawrence, right, in the second quarter. Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles on December 31, 2017. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles punter Donnie Jones takes off his warm-up pants on the field before punting the football in the second-quarter against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson looks up at the scoreboard in the 4th quarter in the game against the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Eagles lost 6-0. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles receiver Torrey Smith can't catch this high pass from quarterback Nick Foles on 4th down and 7 yards in the 1st quarter as Cowboys safety Xavier Woods (left) and Chidobe Awuzie defend in the game at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Eagles lost 6-0. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles yells out instructions to his teammates against the Dallas Cowboys during the first-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Jason Kelce reacts after he was flagged for a penalty as they play the Cowboys. Philadelphia Eagles lose 6-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, left, speaks to Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, right, after Sunday's game. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor, right, is dragged down by the chin by Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, left, in the first half of Sunday's game. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant catches the football past Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas during the second-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Dallas' receiver #19, Brice Butler, right, beats Eagles defensive back #32, Rasul Douglas, left, to haul in a touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Cowboys the lead at Sunday's game. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Kenjon Barner recovers his third-quarter fumbled punt against Dallas Cowboys Lance Lenoir on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagle quarterback Nate Sudfeld, #7, center, scrambles past Dallas' #50, Sean Lee, left, and Tyrone Crawford, right, for a 23 yard gain and a first down in the third period of Sunday's game. Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles on December 31, 2017. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles running back LeGarrett Blount, center, follows his blockers on an end around run in the second quarter of Sunday's game. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Kenjon Barner fumbles a third-quarter punt against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Cowboys' running back Ezekiel Elliott dances for six yards late in the 4th quarter of the game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Eagles lost 6-0. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Cowboys' Anthony Brown, right, sacks Eagles' Nate Sudfield, left, during the 3rd quarter. Philadelphia Eagles lose 6-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Challenger the eagle flies in during the pregame ceremony before the Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld has a pass batted down by Cowboys defensive end Datone Jones in the 3rd quarter of the game against the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Eagles lost 6-0. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles' Kenjon Barner, right, fumbles a punt as the Cowboys' Lance Lenoir, tries to recover the ball in the 3rd quarter. Barner recovered the fumble. LancePhiladelphia Eagles lose 6-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld heads upfield on a 3rd quarter scramble and picks up 23 yards in the game against the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. Eagles lost 6-0. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld gets sacked by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown during the third-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles throws a pass that was intercetpted in the first quarter of Sunday's game against Dallas. Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles on December 31, 2017. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles' Steven Means celebrates after sacking Cowboys' Dak Prescott during the 2nd quarter. Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles' Nate Sudfeld slips as he tries to run during the 2nd quarter against the Cowboys. Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles backup quarterback #7, Nate Sudfeld, center,is sacked by Dallas’ #56, Datone Jones, left, and DeMarcus Lawrence, right, in the second quarter. Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles on December 31, 2017. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles dives for the fumbled football during the first-quarter against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles corner back Sidney Jones defends Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant during the first-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry exults after helping stop Cowboys running back on a 4th down play in the 1st quarter of the game against the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field December 31, 2017. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen loses his helmet stopping Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tosses the football away as tight end Brent Celek tries to block Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the first-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles’ Carson Wentz, left, picks up a football as the team warms-up before the Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, PA on December 31, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Photo Gallery: Photos from the Eagles' loss to the Cowboys

We knew Wentz was good, and knew he lifted the whole team, but now it’s clear exactly how much.

With their playoff seeding locked in place, Sunday was supposed to be just a minor tune-up for the Eagles, a chance for Foles and the offense to build confidence for the postseason and erase the memory of their dreadful showing on Christmas night against Oakland.

Well, the vehicle obviously needed more than a tune-up and, unfortunately, the part that is needed won’t be available until next season. That’s not the fault of Foles. He’s a backup. He has to play only when something has gone terribly wrong. If the Eagles lose in the playoffs because Foles isn’t as good as Wentz, that is simply the natural order of the NFL.

That said, hoo boy, he was bad.

It went beyond simply the stats, and those were bad enough in their own right. He completed just 4 of 11 attempts despite not being asked to convert very much aside from little swing passes and crossing patterns. He was high again on several of his attempts, was intercepted once when he tried to throw on the run and didn’t put enough oomph on the ball, and could have been picked off a couple of more times as well.

“Obviously, as a whole, it’s not exactly what we wanted, but there’s a lot to build on,” Foles said. “I’m confident we’ll build on it.”

Foles played all four series of the first quarter before being lifted from the game, and he had the benefit of having the regulars out there with him with the exception of running back Jay Ajayi. The Eagles didn’t convert any of the three third-down attempts in the quarter, which, combined with the Oakland game, makes Foles 1 of 17 on third-down tries in those two games.

But again, the numbers weren’t the worst part. Foles just didn’t seem comfortable, and teams can feel that about their quarterback the way a horse knows the difference between having a good jockey and a stable boy on its back.

Admittedly, it wasn’t a day made for comfort. Game-time temperature was 18 degrees with a wind-chill of 4 degrees. It was one of those days on which the ball can feel like a chunk of concrete in your hands. Even with that excuse, however, Foles was shaky. He dropped one snap and he shuffled his feet nervously in the pocket, and there was no telling from one play to the next where his throws were going to go. If the idea of playing their starting quarterback in this meaningless game was to lend added stability to the offense, it didn’t succeed.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tosses the football away as tight end Brent Celek tries to block Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the first-quarter on Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Philadelphia.

“We as an offense expect to execute better. This wasn’t acceptable,” Foles said. “But we also know what we’re capable of, and how talented we can be because of how we play together. We’re going to keep our confidence high. There’s no reason not to be confident.”

We’ll leave that one where it is for the moment. There are definitely a few reasons for doubt among those outside the locker room. The team’s job is to maintain an air of confidence regardless, and that will be the message for the next two weeks. The players saw Foles throw four touchdown passes against the Giants on Dec. 17 and they’ll choose that memory over the fresher failures, even if it did come against the defense ranked 32nd in the league.

“I know that throughout my career, I haven’t always played great games. I’ve been in games where execution hasn’t gone like you want it,” Foles said. “The key is you remain confident because you know who you are. It’s not like we go out there and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to play to the best of our ability today.’ We went out and played as hard as we could. We didn’t execute, but that’s stuff we can fix.”

There are some things the Eagles can fix, and some things that, as said earlier, are beyond the healing ability of a tune-up. There are things that will have to wait until next season.

For now, however, it will have to be dink, dunk, and defense that must carry the day. There is no other way, and the Eagles have to hope that formula holds together and that their opponents come apart. It could happen, but Sunday’s game didn’t make it seem more likely.

Bob Ford, STAFF COLUMNIST

Read full story: Nick Foles says he's still confident, despite another bad outing | Bob Ford

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