For Nick Foles, the 2013 season was filled with personal accomplishments. Eagles fans will always remember his seven-touchdown performance against Oakland. They'll remember how Foles stepped in when Michael Vick went down and led the team to a division title. They may even remember that Foles ended up leading the league with a 119.2 passer rating, and that he threw 29 touchdowns (playoffs included) compared to just two interceptions. But what Foles will remember has nothing to do with his own stats. The quarterback's biggest take away from this season is how all of the players in the locker room came together as a team.
"I don't know if I ever will look back (at my statistics)," Foles said on Monday. "Maybe when I'm done playing this game I'll look back over my whole career and say 'Thank you, Lord, for letting me play this game', but I don't think that I ever will look back at the stats. Now, what I do look back at is my teammates. I do look back at them and think about the times that I had playing with them and the fun games that we had -- winning in Oakland and winning (during) that streak, and winning in Dallas to win the NFC East Championship like we did and the locker room after that. That's what I look at. I don't look at the stats. I never will… Those are the moments. That's why we play this game. We don't play it to throw for 20,000 yards. You play it to win games and to do it with your teammates.
"It was something special to be a part of, to see how a team can grow throughout the course of the year. We started off rocky at the beginning. We had a good game and then we'd lose a couple, and we were trying to find our identity; new coaching staff, new players here. It was neat to see how we bonded together. It was something special to be a part of, and I thought the city was tremendous throughout the whole season. They cheered us on every step of the way, and we finally started to get a lot of wins at home, which was great. It was great to starting getting those victories at home, in front of our fans."
All season long, Foles dealt with questions about being the "franchise" quarterback. At his final press conference of the 2013 season, Foles explained what a "franchise" quarterback has to do, but he also said that putting a label on his role with the team would not change his day-to-day approach.
"I think a franchise quarterback is someone who is going to go to work every single day, and when it's game day he's got to play well, but he's also got to be a leader," Foles said. "He's got to be the guy that the team looks to and the city looks to, and you have to be consistent. You're not always going to play perfect games, but you have to keep playing well. There are a lot of quarterbacks that get these contracts, but if you don't play well in this league for a certain amount of games, you probably won't be the starter.
"I've never looked at a label or anything like that as meaningful. It just means someone has your back and has that respect (for you), but for me, personally, I'm going to keep being who I am. I'm not going to change based on labeling me this or I should be this. I don't care about that. I know that I have to keep getting better each and every day for my teammates. That's the most important thing, and the rest will take care of itself … The definition of a leader is someone who leads by example but also makes his teammates better. That's how I look at that. I'm going to continue every day to work and get better."
Chip Kelly also met with reporters one last time before the Eagles offseason begins, and he took time to praise his young signal-caller. After losing out on the starting job to Vick during Training Camp, Foles continued to work hard every day, which is something that Kelly believes ultimately made the University of Arizona product a better player.
"I think he's a great decision-maker," Kelly said. "I think he's extremely accurate with where he puts the ball. I think he's very young. I think people sometimes forget about that.
"There's always competition. You can ask Nick that too. ... I think everybody feeds off of that. They understand that. Then, if you also have a guy who is not competing to be the starter with Nick, what if Nick gets hurt? It's a cliché, but you are a chinstrap away from playing in this league. When your opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it."
For the second-year quarterback, the sting of Saturday night's loss is still sinking in. After winning seven of the last eight games to head into the postseason, Foles explained the difficult adjustment of not getting back out on the practice fields to prepare for a game now that the season has come to a close.
"My body feels like we're still playing," Foles said. "I woke up at four this morning and I had to lay in bed for an hour because I had to calm myself down because I wanted to get up and get going, then I realized that we can't play. I'm going to remember this feeling for the rest of my career, because I enjoy playing this game and I enjoy playing with my teammates.
"We want to keep playing. It's hard to sit at home right now and figure out what you're going to do. Obviously we are going to keep working on our craft and keep working on everything that we do, but it's tough. You go through this offseason and you keep working. You work with all of the guys, and then it's over. Everybody has to face this, but it's tough. We were having fun, we were playing together, and we were playing well. We didn't play as well as we wanted to last game, but we were playing well as a team. I think we're going to take that into the offseason and just continue to work on that."
When Foles and the Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex in April, they will be looking to build upon a record-breaking 2013 season. The Eagles led the NFC with 417.3 yards per game of total offense. They also set new franchise highs in total points (442) and touchdowns (53).
According to Foles, the offensive success of 2013 creates a lot of excitement for the future, and with Coach Kelly calling the plays, the sky truly is the limit for the Eagles offense.
"I thought that we grew a lot as an offense throughout the year, and I think that we can continue to grow together and get even better," said Foles. "I think that the possibilities are exciting to me. I'm not going to say what they are (because) we have to continue to work at them. Me saying something right now doesn't do anything. My works have to show that, our works as a team have to show that on the field. Everybody here knows that we have to get better as an organization and as a team, and we will because we have the people here to do it, but it's going to take a lot of hard work. Us saying it isn't going to do anything. We have to go work at it and practice what we preach, but we have the guys here to do that, so I'm excited to see where this team goes. We have a great coaching staff, great people, great players, so it's something that is special to be a part of, as I will continue to say, but we will continue to work hard and get better.
"Chip will be here for a long time. He'll be here for as long as he wants to be. He's a great coach, he's a great mentor, and as I've said before, when he speaks to us it really resonates in our heart what he's saying, and that's something special as head coach. I love playing for him and I want to play for Chip for the rest of my career. That's what I want to do. I love the city of Philadelphia. I love playing here for Philadelphia. I think you all know where my heart is."
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