On the night Super Bowl LII is celebrated at Lincoln Financial Field, Nick Foles will quarterback the Eagles. Something about that seems right, regardless of how Foles struggled in a pair of preseason appearances, regardless of how much the Eagles' 2018 fate might still rest on the recovery of Carson Wentz from knee surgery.
Wide receiver Mack Hollins was asked this week what Foles has shown his teammates.
"He showed us he could put a ring on our finger," Hollins said.
Fellow wideout Nelson Agholor, asked the same question, said: "What did he not show the world?"
Of course, given the ups and downs of Foles' career, no one knows if the Atlanta Falcons will encounter the 2017 playoff Foles, who threw for 971 yards in three games, completing 72.6 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and one interception, or the 2018 preseason Foles, who was sacked six times in 51 snaps and compiled a 48.7 passer rating.
But he was the MVP of the only Super Bowl the franchise has won. On the biggest of all possible stages, Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He stood toe-to-toe with Tom Brady, and he won. That will never stop being true, regardless of what happens in any subsequent game, ever, including Thursday night's kickoff to the NFL season.
"I really haven't," Foles said Tuesday, when asked if he had thought about what the opening-night welcome from the fans would be like. "Just because we've been in training camp, and then just preparing for this game … the installation for today, repping the plays, the different looks. Going home today to spend time with family and just get my body right.
"It'll be really awesome for everyone at that moment, but at the end of the day, we got a game, too."
Yes, there is that. Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked what makes him confident that Foles and the first-team offense will perform more capably than they did in the preseason, when they neglected to score a touchdown.
"One is the fact they've had a chance to work together. … We spent a couple days last week, and then, of course, all this week," Pederson said. "[With that time] 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.
"Obviously, you won't know until Thursday night, but it's been a good week."
Foles said he felt he "grew as a player" through the preseason struggles.
"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, having a strip-sack," Foles said. "I can learn from it [in an environment in which the result doesn't matter] and move forward.
"I think we've had a great week of practice. … I thought guys were out there grindin' [Tuesday], giving it everything they had. The attention to detail was great. That's what matters."
With Wentz working hard in 11on-11 the last few weeks, it seemed he might be gearing up to play the opener, even though the timeframe was always going to be tight, the franchise QB having gotten his left knee's ACL and LCL repaired on Dec. 13, a little less than nine months ago. Foles, who declined to share when Pederson told him he was starting, was asked if he had expected to take the wheel. He said he always prepares like a starter, just in case.
The only playoff game in which Foles was less than spectacular was the first one, against Atlanta. He did get better as the day unfolded, finishing 23-for-30 for 246 yards, 145 of them coming in the second half, with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
"Just playing," Foles said, when asked what changed. "I'm a basketball player, too. … You have to get a rhythm, you have to feel the dribble, you have to feel your shot. You have to play the game.
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"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. 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 … not really thinking, just seeing and reacting."
Foles said that deep down, he really hasn't changed that much, through returning here to back up Wentz two years after being traded, to stepping in and saving the season, through suggesting and then scoring on the "Philly Special," to working through this year's preseason hiccups.