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Eagles Move Forward Confidently With Foles

Posted Dec 11, 2017

Life goes on for the Philadelphia Eagles in the aftermath of quarterback Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury, just as it has gone on in the past when starring, starting quarterbacks have gone down. But there’s a reason head coach Doug Pederson presented himself with a stiff upper lip and a strong message: He has faith that veteran Nick Foles can operate the offense at a high level for the 11-2 Eagles ...

Life goes on for the Philadelphia Eagles in the aftermath of quarterback Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury, just as it has gone on in the past when starring, starting quarterbacks have gone down. But there’s a reason head coach Doug Pederson presented himself with a stiff upper lip and a strong message: He has faith that veteran Nick Foles can operate the offense at a high level for the 11-2 Eagles.

And he knows that the entire organization and the fan base will rally around Foles down the stretch and through the postseason.

“Everybody has to buy in,” Pederson said. “We can’t have any doubters in the building. We can’t have any doubters on the football team, on the coaching staff. It doesn’t matter. We’re going forward. We’ve lost a lot of players this season, a lot of Pro Bowl-caliber players this season already and we haven’t missed a beat and we expect nothing different with Nick Foles.”

There are going to be differences, of course, because Foles is not Wentz and he does not have some of the characteristics that make Wentz a transcendent, special talent. Wentz is in a different category than just about every NFL quarterback because of his superior skill set, intellect, and competitive nature. He’s got a long road to recovery and, knowing how hard Wentz works, he will make it all the way back and be great in 2018.

But that’s down the road. The Eagles need to figure out a way to win now, starting Sunday at the Giants. The immediate goal is to finish the three-game road trip strong, and then get back to Lincoln Financial Field and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs – the Eagles have a one-game lead over Minnesota – and a bye week before the postseason.

The right-now question is this: How will the Eagles' offense change with Foles at quarterback? And that’s not just in terms of X’s and O’s. That means production and efficiency. The Eagles lead the league in scoring. They lead the league in red zone touchdown efficiency. They’re second in the NFL in yards per game rushing the football.

The Eagles have done a lot of great things offensively through 13 games. Can they keep it that way with Foles?

How will the offense change on a day-to-day basis?

“It doesn’t have to change a lot,” Pederson said. “It’s just now Nick stepping into the huddle and Nick commanding the huddle and you saw it out in L.A. He got in there and the guys responded. There was no hesitation whether it be with the coaching staff or by the players. I’ve been using the word ‘resilient’ all year and it really applies here.”

Hey, nobody said this would be easy, and Wentz’s injury certainly complicates things for a team that has lost left tackle Jason Peters, running back/return man Darren Sproles, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, special teams ace Chris Maragos, and placekicker Caleb Sturgis for the season, plus top cornerback Ronald Darby for eight full games. Yet the Eagles are 11-2 with a winnable final three regular-season games and a chance to play in front of a full-throttle crowd in South Philly for the postseason.

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“I’ve always found it interesting that people think you’ve got to completely change your offense for one guy and go in a whole different direction,” Pederson said. “We’ve run the ball successfully all season long and we’ve got to continue to do that. We’ve been a high-efficiency passing offense, OK, we’ve got to continue to do that. We gotta get completions.

“We’ve just got to continue to do the things that have gotten us to 11-2 and not re-invent anything other than that.”

Foles is the guy here, and nobody in the NovaCare Complex and in the Eagles organization is crying. Losing Wentz is such a shame, because he was having such a fantastic season and he’s obviously got something special about him. But the Eagles are more than one player, no matter how great he is. We’ll see what the coaching staff does with Foles and the direction the offense will take with him as the starter. He’s a big, strong pocket passer who has to win down the stretch and in the postseason.

The Eagles still have an outstanding offensive line, a good receiving corps, a strong running game, and a defense that, while it’s given up some big plays of late, is very capable of dominating teams, particularly in the friendly environment of Lincoln Financial Field.

Once Wentz had his early-morning MRI – the team arrived back from California at Philadelphia International Airport at about 4:30 a.m. – and the reality that he would be lost for the remainder of the season settled in, the coaching staff got right to work preparing for the Giants. That’s how this works. Everybody knows Foles will do a good job limiting his mistakes, knowing NFL defenses, operating the offense in a very professional, functional manner. Will he pull out a 27-and-2 type of performance like he put forth in 2013? The Eagles don’t need him to do that.

Foles just has to be Foles and let the rest of the team play its game and the Eagles are going to be right there. Will they lead the league in scoring the rest of the way? Maybe. Maybe not. But they’re going to win games because they’re a damn fine football team, top of the roster to the bottom, with an outstanding coaching staff and personnel department to boot.

Life goes on, for sure. There are still big accomplishments to be had this season.

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