"Come on Eileen." "Blame It on the Rain." "I’m Too Sexy."
Foles enjoyed a breakout season for the ages in 2013. After assuming the starting quarterback job midway through the season, the 6-foot-6, 243-pound signal-caller had the third-highest quarterback rating in NFL history. He tossed 27 touchdowns against only two interceptions, the best such ratio ever. He became just the seventh player to throw seven touchdown passes in a single game.
It wasn’t just lofty numbers that Foles put up week in and week out. He guided the Eagles to wins in eight of their final nine games, including the de facto NFC East division championship game in Dallas. For the cherry on top, Foles’ magical run continued in the Pro Bowl where the second-year quarterback was named the Offensive MVP.
It’s been almost seven months since the season ended. The 25-year-old Foles enters this year’s Training Camp as the unquestioned starter for the first time in his young career. The former third-round pick is no longer any sort of secret around the league. Teams have had the entire offseason to dissect his performances and scheme ways to stop him. Grounded by his family and his faith, Foles has worked hard the entire offseason to offset what defenses will throw his way.
“When it comes to the pressure, I know I just have to continue to work and work smart and work hard to give me an opportunity to play at a high level this coming season. I know I say it over and over again, but all of those throws that happened last year - the touchdowns, whatever - it does absolutely nothing,” Foles said.
“It probably hurts me more now than last year because I did it. You’ve got to do it even better. In my mind, I want to do it better, but I also know in reality some things will happen. There could be a game where I throw two interceptions. I threw two interceptions all of last year.”
Foles’ coaches are encouraged by the progress the quarterback has made this offseason.
“He’s looking to have a fantastic year because there are a lot fewer unknowns in terms of how defenses can counterbalance our system,” said quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, who was with the Vikings in 2013. “Nick knows our system more, he’s in a different role at this stage than he was 12 months ago, so I know he’s looking forward to taking that next step.”
In fact, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur declares that Foles will be an even “better quarterback” in 2014. How? With quicker and more efficient decision-making.
“I think quarterbacks get rid of the ball quicker, they make quicker decisions, when they are more familiar with the progressions,” Shurmur said. “That just comes over time as you get used to doing things over and over and over.”
Shurmur and head coach Chip Kelly have empowered Foles to take full command of an offense that racked up the most yards, points and touchdowns in team history last season.
“The thing I love about this offense is that there is an answer for every different situation,” Foles said. “Now, the big thing is execution.”
If Foles can fine tune the finite details of his game, the Eagles won’t need monumental passing achievements in order to replicate the victories from last season. And Foles is well aware of that.
“Our team isn’t measured by my 27 and two. If we win and I throw 25 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, we’re winning,” Foles said. “Can I be a good enough leader to where I can make these guys better, players around me, so it makes the team better and we win?”
With the talent around him, Foles is well positioned to guide the Eagles back to the playoffs. And, more importantly, avoid joining the likes of Dexys Midnight Runners, Milli Vanilli and Right Said Fred.