EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to the New York Jets in the preseason finale,
“It's good to have this experience right now in the preseason,” said Foles, who went 6-17 for 63 yards. “Sometimes you're going to struggle. I wish I could throw 100 percent all of the time, but some days there are going to be tough days and you have to keep fighting through them.”
Foles did commit one turnover, fumbling the ball on the Eagles’ first offensive drive. Playing without the usual starters on the offensive line, Foles faced a good amount of pressure from the Jets, but the second-year quarterback still looked at the night as a learning experience.
“They blitzed a lot”, Foles explained. “I expected them to blitz and when they blitz we need to capitalize on it. It's something to look at.”
Head coach Chip Kelly said that Foles’ performance can be linked directly to the problems with the offensive line.
“I don't think we protected him very well,” Kelly said. “A lot of times it was a four-man rush that was in his face and he didn’t really have time to set his feet. It was protection issues with the second offensive line, so it’s tough.”
While Thursday night’s game won’t be a great way for Foles to remember his preseason, he isn’t going to focus on the negatives.
“I thought I did well,” said Foles, who was 27-of-42 for 271 yards with a rushing touchdown and an interception in the preseason. “I thought I played solid, but at the same time I have things to work on. One is ball security and I'll continue to work on that until I master that. It'll probably be forever. That's something that you have to keep working on, and keep in your mind at all times. I feel good with the body of work. I know what I need to improve on and I'm going to keep working at it.”
After halftime, Barkley entered the game and the rookie from USC completed 13 of his 27 passing attempts, good for 134 yards. He also led the Eagles on both of their touchdowns drives. With the Eagles trailing 20-13 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Barkley was intercepted by Antonio Allen, who returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown. Aside from the interception, Barkley was pleased with the way he played.
“I feel I did well besides the one play,” Barkley told reporters. “Obviously you want that back, but I think for the most part, we had that good drive where we were moving the ball, and I felt comfortable with that.”
Barkley is adjusting to not being a starting quarterback for the first time since before high school. While he is getting more familiar with the idea as time progresses, it has still been somewhat of a challenge for him to get into a rhythm.
“It’s kind of been all over the place,” Barkley said of his play during this preseason. “I’m just trying to grow because it’s a different kind of rhythm that you had to try to get into as opposed to starting a game and going in feeling that rhythm the whole game. It’s kind of bits and pieces. I think I managed to do the best job I can, as (far as) growing, learning, and feeling more comfortable with the offense.”
As his first preseason in the NFL comes to a close, Barkley now understands what it means to play in the NFL. He may not have won the starting quarterback job, but he did learn some valuable lessons heading into the regular season.
“If (defenders) see the same route, they’re going to jump the ball,” Barkley said. “It happened on that pick. It’s a route that had been open on a couple of plays earlier in the game and (Allen) had seen it before. I think that’s one of the biggest differences (between college and the NFL). A lot of these players are smarter. You have athletes in college and whatnot, but I think just the mental toughness of guys on teams now in the NFL is on another level. You kind of have to outsmart your opponent.”
Barkley finished the preseason 32-of-63 for 309 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Kelly is pleased with the progress Barkley showed.
“I thought he played well a lot of times,” Kelly stated. “He's still up and down at times, but I'm excited about Matt's future.”
Like Foles, Barkley will be watching from the sidelines during regular season games. He may not being seeing action during games, but the rookie knows that he can still improve through observation.
“You’re going to have to learn when you’re not on the job,” Barkley said. “That’s the way it goes. (I have to) roll with it - roll with the changes.”
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