Chip Kelly has frequently noted that Nick Foles is a better athlete than people give him credit for. Numerous Eagles will tell you that he is the best basketball player – Georgetown offered him a scholarship – on the team, too.
"I think my basketball background helps a lot," Foles said. "Because on a basketball court there's designed plays, but you have to make plays within those plays. Then you have fast breaks, different throwing lanes. If it is a scramble drill, you see a lot of point guards, like Chris Paul, look one way and throw it the other. So you use how the eyes and the body can be so deceptive on the basketball court. I just try to take that and use it on the football field. It's something that I'm continuing to work on, trying to translate my basketball playing ability to the football field."
Call it sneaky athleticism, call it goofy athleticism, but it is legitimate athleticism nonetheless. So why doesn't Foles get enough credit for his athletic ability? Is it solely because he perhaps doesn't look athletic or have blazing speed? Whatever the case, over the past two games it sure seems like the speed Foles possesses is good enough to get the necessary yardage.
"I didn't run a 5.2 at the Combine," Foles said with a wry smile when a reporter relayed that number. "It was a 5.1 … a 5.13."
For the record, Foles broke the 5.0-second barrier in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, by running a 4.99. In all seriousness, though, Foles appeared to be faster in this Training Camp and the preseason than he was in 2012, and it is a facet of his game that he worked on rigorously over the offseason in preparation for fitting into Chip Kelly's offense.
"I'm not going to run a 4.3 – I might run a 4.3 30(-yard dash), but it's not going to be anything crazy," Foles said. "I worked on a lot of endurance, a lot of cross training, different things to pick up speed and explosion. I'll continue to do that, I'll continue to work on foot speed and continue to excel in that as I get older. That's what my goal is."
Foot speed is not the only skill upon which Foles has improved from his rookie season. He feels he is more trusting of his instincts, of his eyes and content to let the game come to him instead of trying to make a play if it isn't there.
"I think you just have to trust your gut as a quarterback," Foles said. "There's going to be times to fit the ball in a tight window, and there's going to be times to play for the next play and maybe dump it down and be smart with the ball, keep the chains moving. It's really just managing the game, managing the situations, the down and distance, where you are on the field, the time. I think just with playing in the games, getting those starts, playing in the preseason, game management's been huge."
Foles has also grown within the offensive system itself. He appreciates Chip Kelly's mindset and has become more aware and in tune with what his coach is looking for – why and when he wants to run certain plays.
"You never know what to expect with Chip," Foles said. "I love that he's aggressive and then he'll try to mix something in to catch (the defense) off-guard. I love his playcalling, I'm getting used to it and continuing to excel. We're on the same page. Now it's at the point in the game where I know what he's going to call and I know why he's calling it."
Foles is even starting to sound like Kelly, too.
"We know that if we win, this game is going to put us in a great position and that's all we worry about," Foles said of Sunday's matchup against Washington. "It's easy to start overlooking (your opponent) and looking out in advance, but we've all learned a long time ago – I know in Pop Warner, high school, middle school, they teach you this next game is the most important game, this is the championship game. You have to treat every game like that. If you win this one and then you approach the next week the same, at the end of the season you'll be in a good place."
The evolution of Nick Foles continues. Next up: The Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field.