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Foles: Right Stuff To Bounce Back

Posted Oct 29, 2013

He watched the tape of the loss to Dallas a week after it happened, all alone in his thoughts and with notes from the coaching staff, and Nick Foles saw what you and I saw: A young quarterback missing open receivers and making mistakes ...

His world did not end on that afternoon, though, and so Nick Foles took the appropriate time to recover from the concussion suffered in the third quarter two Sundays ago, and then he watched his performance against Dallas.

"It was tough to watch," said Foles on Tuesday after he practiced for the first time in 10 days, "but I have to take it to heart and take ownership and get out here and work on those things. I'm motivated to get better."

Contrary to speculation and the whispering-down-the-lane mentality that happens after a rough loss and a poor outing, Foles said he wasn't in awe of "the moment" of the game with Dallas. He didn't feel any added pressure. Injuries weren't a factor.

He ... just ... didn't ... play ... well.

"I didn't execute like I needed to. I was inaccurate on things that I'm normally very accurate on," said Foles. "I see those things and it was great to get out in practice and focus on those things.

"I did not play well. But one game never has and never will define me."

The Eagles have not named a starter for Sunday's game in Oakland, but it would seem logical to think that Foles will be in the lineup if he has no setbacks between now and Sunday. The Eagles certainly haven't lost confidence in Foles, but there is no question that Foles needs to bounce back when he is called upon the next time -- whether that's Sunday or at some point in the future.

What they want to see is the Foles who was so decisive and confident when he replaced Michael Vick in the second quarter of the victory over the Giants and then came back with a virtually flawless performance against Tampa Bay.

In those games Foles was a gunslinger. He threw the ball with great confidence. He moved in and out of the pocket with his feet. What distinguished the Foles of those two games and the Foles against Dallas, more than anything, was the issue of accuracy.

He was just off, way off, against the Cowboys. There were plenty of open receivers, and Foles had enough time to set his feet and throw the football accurately. Didn't happen. Foles threw for 80 yards in three quarters and the Eagles didn't score a touchdown.

"That was disappointing to me," he said.

The public reaction to that performance was, in some cases, extreme. Would the Eagles ever give Foles another chance to play? Were his chances of being the "quarterback of the future" erased after the struggle against Dallas?

Foles, in fact, is itching to get back on the field and he spoke earnestly on Tuesday about the support he received from his teammates and coaches. Foles handled the media well, the first time he answered questions since the Dallas game.

Now it's time to move on. The Eagles need a win in the worst way on Sunday and either Foles or rookie Matt Barkley is going to get the start. The two split reps on Tuesday, so we will see how the rest of the week progresses and see if Foles moves back into the role as the starting quarterback here.

What Foles is experiencing now, and what we all have to keep in mind, is what every young quarterback much defeat. There are going to be highs and lows in a young quarterback's career, and Foles, after a season and a quarter of relative consistency, ran into his first wall against Dallas.

How does he bounce back? Does Foles regain the "gunslinger" mentality when he next plays that he had in Tampa when he expertly led receivers and beat blitzes and threw over the top against the Bucs' secondary?

One bad game is an anomaly. A second is a major cause of concern. Foles said he has learned from the experience against Dallas, and that he is champing at the bit to have his next opportunity to play.

It's the right way to approach the situation. Foles loves the competition, loves the team environment and rises to the occasion. Should Foles start in Oakland, the intrigue will be undeniable. Who is the real Foles, the one who won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award against Tampa Bay or the one who didn't set his feet correctly, or turn his body right or let go with confidence when he had open receivers against Dallas?

I think Foles is a lot closer to the former than the latter. He had a bad game against Dallas, no doubt, but every quarterback has his clunkers. The best of the best bounce back stronger. Foles wants the call and the ball against the Raiders. He wants to wipe away the bad taste from the Dallas game.

That's the mind of mentality the Eagles want at quarterback as they search for their signal caller for today and the future. Foles took his lumps and now wants to prove he has learned from them. On Sunday, he just might have that chance to prove what kind of pupil he is.

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