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Critical 2 Games For QB Foles

The correct mindset for a young quarterback to have is one that quickly puts the past in its place. And for Nick Foles, he'd better have that approach with important games against division rivals Washington and New York ahead.

With the NFC East a logjam at the top, the Eagles have an important role in how the division plays out. It's not the ideal position, of course, and nobody within the walls of the NovaCare Complex is the least bit pleased with a 4-10 record.

But these last two games are meaningful. The Eagles are going to get the best of Washington and New York, and both defenses will provide excellent tests for Foles.

And let's face it, how Foles develops and how the Eagles feel about him at the end of the season is very much at the top of the "moving forward" list for this organization. The coaching piece of it is one huge question, granted, but as far as the player personnel goes, nothing is more important than finding the right quarterback.

Is Foles that guy? We don't know yet. He's had five starts and Foles has had more ups, from this perspective, than downs. In Thursday night's loss to Cincinnati, Foles played pretty well for the first two-plus quarters, and then he struggled late with an interception and some poorly-thrown balls.

You watch Foles and see a lot of good things. He's got the poise required. The game intelligence is clearly there. Foles' is not a great athlete by NFL standards at the position, but his movement and relative quickness appear adequate. The arm strength is fine. Foles understands what he sees and he trusts his eyes.

What are the areas of improvement? Everything, but specifically Foles must improve his footwork and his "drive" with his legs through the throw. He's thrown a lot to his first read when a bit of patience might be more productive. It's understandable that Foles wants to get the ball out given the inconsistency of the offensive line in pass protection.

Foles has a long way to go before he firmly establishes himself as whatever he is going to become in the NFL. He's the guy for now, and he's the player who must rise above the malaise of a 4-10 mark.

Enter Washington and New York. Both teams are 8-6 and have their eyes -- along with Dallas -- on the division crown. Foles is going to be challenged as is an offense hoping to welcome back running back LeSean McCoy for Sunday's Lincoln Financial Field home finale.

Foles made his starting debut against Washington at FedEx Field and struggled, as did the entire offense. Foles threw a pair of early interceptions and the Eagles fell into an early hole and never recovered on the way to a 31-6 defeat. The numbers. Just 21 completions in 44 attempts. Not good at all.

There have been four starts since, and the expectations for Foles have grown each time. That's a good thing, folks. He's much better now than he was on November 18. 

How much different will a month make for the rookie? What did he learn then that he can use now? Washington has been on a rampage, winning five straight games. The Redskins lost some key players to injuries, premier pass rusher Brian Orakpo and defensive lineman Adam Carriker, yet the Redskins are playing very well defensively.

The Eagles weren't able to give Foles much time to set up and throw the football the first time these teams met, so that is priority number one to improve for Sunday. How the offense is going to approach the Redskins, how they are going to use McCoy, the personnel groupings -- all are going to play a huge part here. The Eagles have had a couple of extra days to prepare. How much of an advantage is that for the coaching staff?

There is no excuse for a poor two weeks ahead. These games mean something, so the motivation is obviously there. Nobody wants to be an NFC East also-ran, but that's where the Eagles are right now. They're in the role of spoiler.

At least there is something to prove here. Neither Washington nor New York will coast through these two weeks. Those teams are playing for the postseason. The Eagles are playing for the future. In the eye of that approach is Foles, who may or may not be the quarterback for years to come here.

He's got two more games this year to continue his progress against teams that are on edge. These games mean something for Foles, for the Eagles, for the future.

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