Alumni Alley runs every week on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: Ron Jaworski, former Eagles quarterback who is a member of the franchise's Hall of Fame and who has been a leading NFL analyst on ESPN since 1990.
I loved every minute of playing as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and cherish the memories to this day. It certainly wasn't always easy and things weren't always as smooth as I wanted, but being a part of this family and remaining a member of the family happened to be the greatest experience of my NFL life. I've remained in the area and raised my family here because Philadelphia is such a welcoming, warm and passionate area. As soon as I arrived here in 1977, I felt that passion and embraced it.
Now, of course, I follow the Eagles closely as a member of the media, and I think that Chip Kelly has a very strong foundation in place and that the Eagles are heading in the right direction. I'm particularly interested in the development of Nick Foles at the quarterback position. I think he's doing a fantastic job so early in his career.
If I had some advice for Nick, I would say this: Be yourself. I would say that Nick is doing a good job of that. It was kind of interesting as I watched the coach's tape of the Oakland game and I saw how Nick responded after throwing his seventh touchdown pass. I don't think the television replays showed this, but I saw it on the coach's tape. Nick threw the touchdown pass and turned and just walked to the bench. Had that been me, I probably would have high-fived everybody in the stands, I would have been so excited to have tied an NFL record for touchdown passes in a game. Being low-key is part of Nick's makeup and part of his character, so to maintain that demeanor after throwing seven touchdown passes is somewhat remarkable.
For Nick, he's put the team first. Even when he learned that Michael Vick won the starting job to begin the season, Nick spoke about how he would support Michael and continue to put the team first. That's what you want to see.
The only blemish so far for Nick has been his performance in the Dallas game, and he's bounced back from that. Having amnesia is extremely important for a quarterback because no matter whether your previous play is a good one or a bad one, you have to file it away and move ahead.
Philadelphia is a unique place to play football in this league. These are vocal fans and if you win you're phenomenal and if you lose, you're a bum. You have to understand that going in. If you play well at quarterback and the team loses, you're still going to hear it from the fans. It took me a while to understand that when I played here. I was a hard-working guy and we had a hard-working team, and the fans respected that, but they just wanted to win. Winning is all that matters. You have to have a great work ethic, you have to have thick skin, and you have to win. That's what it boils down to.
You learn through the failures. That's what defines all players. And in the end, how Nick handles adversity is what is going to define his career. That's why what he did following the Dallas game – in which he did not play well and was injured as well – was so impressive. He did what Dick Vermeil always urged us to do: Turn those boos into ooohs.
Another unique part of Philadelphia is the media. The media is 100 times more intense than when I played. He has to ignore all of that stuff, but it's impossible to tune it out completely. When you go out to the grocery store or go out in public at all, you become aware of how people feel about you. You have to accept it, good and bad.
The sampling for Nick is still small, but I think he has been terrific. What I really like is how he moves within the pocket and that is one of the attributes I always look for in quarterbacks. Players like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning are not run-around guys and they don't give you big plays with their legs. Nick has shown the ability to move within the pocket, keep his eyes down the field and have that sixth sense of feel within the pocket. It's very impressive.
I love the program that Chip is putting in place. It's hell bent. We're going to play pedal-to-the-metal football and any quarterback would love that. The Eagles have a lot of pieces on offense and I am a big Billy Davis fan on defense. The Eagles have played with great discipline and you see the results.
After a couple of down seasons, the Eagles organization has bounced back and the team is in a playoff chase. That's the mark of a great football franchise. Every team is going to go through down periods, and the better organizations make that a relatively short down time. The Eagles are on the road back, and it's fun to have big games in December again.