When Nick Foles takes the field on Sunday, it will have been 364 days since his first career NFL start. Coincidentally, that game was against the same opponent that Foles will face this week in Washington.
Foles will always remember his first NFL start, but ultimately it would be a day to forget for the Eagles. On a brisk afternoon at FedEx Field, Washington, led by quarterback Robert Griffin III's perfect passer rating, handed the Eagles their sixth-consecutive loss in a 31-6 defeat. Foles completed just 21 of his 46 pass attempts for 204 yards. He threw two interceptions and couldn't find a way to get the Eagles into the end zone. But all of that is now in the past, and Foles has come a long way in less than a calendar year.
"I made some mistakes," Foles said, recalling the game. "I made some ill-advised decisions with some throws that didn't turn out so good. You just have to bounce back from those situations. When I go out there, I'm not trying to throw interceptions. I'm trying to throw touchdowns in those situations.
"Sometimes there are going to be some tight windows that you have to fit it in, but it's really (about) trying to be smart with the ball. If I feel like it's not there, it's okay to check it down and get 5 or 10 yards. That's a great play and then you can come back to it and move forward instead of putting the ball at risk and giving them the opportunity for a big play."
Foles has made quite the turnaround since his shaky first start. The University of Arizona product has appeared in 12 games since then, and in that span he has thrown just two interceptions. He is now coming off of a two-game stretch in which he went 34-of-46 for 634 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.
According to the young quarterback, the biggest reason for his recent success has been his increased exposure to playing at the NFL level.
"I think I've just grown as a player and a person," Foles explained. "Playing in these games and then going through an offseason and then continuing to get reps and get playing experience - I feel more and more comfortable. I think the big thing about going from college to the NFL was adapting to the speed of the game, and adapting to the terminology and everything that happens. These guys we go against every week are pretty darn good athletes, so the windows are a lot tighter. The windows that were there in college aren't really there in the pros, so you really have to do a lot of stuff with your eyes and your body to open stuff up.
"I feel like I've improved a lot, but there's still a lot of improving to do."
For the second time this season, Foles has the opportunity to make a lasting mark on his young career by leading the Eagles to victory against a divisional opponent at Lincoln Financial Field. The Week 7 game against Dallas did not go his way, but Foles is determined to do whatever has to be done to come away with a win on Sunday. The week of preparation is underway and Foles knows that the Redskins defense will be force him to be at his best.
"I'm just finishing up with the last game, so I barely got into the Redskins, but I know from playing them before that they have a good, veteran group," said Foles. "They do have some young guys, but I know that London Fletcher is going to lead that team. He's a sharp vet and we're going to have to execute. As the week goes on, I'll get a better idea, but we're trying to clean up some stuff - I missed opportunities in the last game that I want to take advantage of, so that's what (Tuesday) is used for."