By the numbers, this was Nick Foles' best game as an Eagle. Since taking over for a concussed Michael Vick two weeks ago against the Dallas Cowboys, Foles' completion percentage of 76.2 during the Eagles' 30-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers was tops among his three games, as was his quarterback rating of 89.2. For the first time, Foles did not turn the ball over and he was also only sacked once, another best for the rookie.
"I felt like I improved on certain things," Foles said after the game. "Still a lot to improve on. I made some miscues and there were some little things. I'm pretty hard on myself so we didn't get the win and we need to get more points. But I felt like I improved and I'll continue to improve. There's a lot to learn from this one as well. As in any game plan, there's always a lot to learn from so I just have to take what I learned from it and become a better player and help make the guys around me better players."
The fireworks on offense for the Eagles came courtesy of running back Bryce Brown and Foles' total passing yards of 119 won't turn many heads, but Foles also helped get the Eagles a 51-yard pass interference penalty that set up Brown's second touchdown. In all, Foles handled the game, which is all that was necessary with Brown running wild. But with Michael Vick's return potentially looming, the question becomes whether Foles or Vick will line up under the center when Vick is eventually cleared. Foles, ever the good teammate, said that he's willing to do whatever is asked of him.
"Mike is the quarterback," Foles said. "That's all I know is Mike's our quarterback. He's our leader and I stepped in when he got injured to fill in, help the team and it has been my job to be the starting quarterback the last two weeks and Mike's the quarterback of this team. He's been the quarterback. I love Mike to death and hopefully he's healthy but my job is to be ready at any time and to continue to play. I love playing the game. It was great being out there playing in front of our crowd. It's just tough not getting a win.
"I always prepare as if I'm the starter no matter what. First, second, third string ... You never know what's going to happen. You always need to prepare yourself like you are the starter so when it does happen, you're ready."
As the Eagles find themselves 3-8 through 11 games and all but eliminated from playoff contention, the attention now turns to the future and whether Foles can be a starting quarterback for the Eagles in the long term. The third-round rookie was asked whether that question enters his mind.
"I'm always myself," he said. "I stay true to who I am. I don't think specifically about that. My goal when I go to work is to be the best teammate, best player possible and to work at my craft, work every day to get better. If you do that, whatever happens, happens. That's how it goes. I don't really worry about things I can't control. All I can control is getting better."
Getting better, for Foles, also means proving he can be a leader. After seven straight losses, with the hope of a winning season now gone, Foles and the Eagles will need to find motivation within themselves. That isn't likely to be a problem for the rookie.
"You love your teammates," Foles said of his motivation. "You love the organization you play for. We're very fortunate to do what we do. We can never forget that. I wake up every day and I can't believe I'm an NFL player, something I dreamed about as a kid. I love playing the game ad the reason I love playing the game is my teammates. You have the fans and I know it's tough for them but I get to go out there with my guys and play with them and that's something that's special. You can't do this forever and every moment we're out there practicing, playing, win or lose. We want to win every single game. We want to fight every single game. We're out there together and that's something really special. That's why we continue to work and we will continue to work because we love this game and we love each other."
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