Despite a memorable game against the Detroit Lions that he'll remember forever for myriad reasons, Nick Foles has been singularly focused on the Minnesota Vikings since Monday evening.
"Twenty-four rule," Foles said, just as he has every week. "I dealt with the emotions of the Lions game because that was an emotional game, especially with the weather and the ups and downs. But after 24 hours, Monday night, Tuesday morning, I was all in on the Vikings."
It's not a defense he's taking lightly either, despite the unit's ranking in the bottom third of the league in every statistical category. The Vikings will be getting a big boost with the expected return from injury of second-year safety Harrison Smith, who established himself as a rising star last season and was well on his way to an encore performance – having recorded 41 total tackles and two interceptions in five games – before succumbing to turf toe.
"They have two really strong (defensive) ends in (Jared) Allen and (Brian) Robison, who are very talented," Foles said. "Then in the secondary they're a little banged up but are getting some guys back healthy. They're going to try to hold the coverage with the safeties and, like any team, will try to disguise it so the quarterback doesn't really know what the coverage is right at the snap. It's a good team, they're lost some really close games. They have a talented group that's going to be ready to play."
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Part of Foles' mindset when it comes to approaching the next opponent, especially after an emotional game (whether it results in a win or a loss), is to stay grounded and remain even-keeled. He is a picture of calmness on and off the field, never getting too high or too low, and it's a trait that permeates the team as a whole.
"I think it's always been that way," Foles said of his stable nature. "But I think that through playing the game, trial and error, you learn more about how to deal with it, the ups and downs. … When you go through it and you have tough losses or you have big wins, then the next week you come back and maybe you lose a game or it's a badly played game but you win it, you realize that the most important thing is to stay steady and have that hunger every week. That's where the 24-hour rule comes in. After one day, put all emotions aside, get back to what you got there in the first place and get back to work."
As Foles learned from a young age while playing sports, it's all about how you respond to adversity and success that determines your merits as both an athlete and person. He exudes maturity, wisdom and imperturbability in ways that make it easy to forget he's a month away from just his 25th birthday. Then you hear him talk about his family, friends and influences and it all makes sense.
"I've been very fortune in my life to have some great people in my corner who have really helped me and shaped me into who I am," Foles said.
Foles' down-to-earth and wholesome aura is not a front, either. He comes from a rock-solid background and upbringing and has his priorities in order. He's not about getting caught up in the spotlight, fame or flashy lifestyle that can accompany his profession.
"I don't think so," Foles said when asked if he expects things to change on a personal level, especially when he goes home to Austin, Texas. "Where I'm from in Austin, Westlake, they've always been great. I went home in college, I went home last year. Obviously I know it's different now, but they're the same people who have known me all along. It's a close-knit community. I think the big thing is how you approach it, and I approach it the same way. I'm going to be with my family, see some buddies, work out with my mom because she's the one who trains me. That's what I enjoy about being home.
"We have three great dogs at the house that I look forward to seeing. It's the little things, that's what home is for me. It's not going home and going crazy the whole week. It's being with my family, being with my two younger sisters because they don't get to see me. They haven't seen me for the last seven years. I really spend that quality time with them."
Foles' nature meshes ideally with that of his head coach, Chip Kelly, and their mindsets are identical when it comes to how they approach their responsibilities.
"Chip's been great with that," Foles said of the one-game-at-a-time mantra. "Week to week, when he speaks, it's something powerful all the time. It's always with meaning, and that's what he wants. Then credit to the leaders on this team, guys like DeMeco (Ryans), they're guys that we look to. As a quarterback, you have to be a leader too, and that's just really when we go to practice every week on Tuesday we get after it. Everybody's going to be pretty sore and you're trying to move as fast as you can, but we're all doing it together and there's definitely been a team bonding (aspect) in going through it. Chip's the head coach, he's been a huge part of it, but he also has great assistant coaches and strength coaches and people around the building who have done an outstanding job."
The Eagles have really bonded and come together as a team – one that looks primed to make some noise in the NFC playoff race – since Foles returned from his concussion and helped ignite a magical streak of five straight wins. It's funny the knock on him from the peanut gallery was that he would not "fit" with Kelly's NFL offense because of certain athletic, speed-based limitations. How easy it is for people to forget that brain still triumphs over brawn.