Amidst all the praise and accolades accompanying his record-tying, seven-touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders, Nick Foles has not really changed at all. He is still the same calm, cool, collected, selfless guy who plays the game of football for his team, not himself.
"It's a great honor," Foles said of the Pro Football Hall of Fame requesting his game-worn jersey and cleats. "But, like I've said before, when I reflect on that stuff, I think about the guys I did it with, and that's most special to me – the memories I made with them, seeing everybody really happy, having the time to throw it, the receivers downfield making tremendous plays, running after the catch. All the stuff that went together, that's what I think about."
The NFL is very much a week-to-week life cycle, and the euphoria of victory can turn into the bitter disappointment of defeat if players focus too long on what they have accomplished, instead of focusing on preparing for their next opponent. The media and fans might want to keep talking about the Raiders game, but Foles has already moved on to getting ready for Green Bay.
"It was a great game, we played well offensively," Foles said of the 49-20 demolition of Oakland. "But it was just one game, and we have more to go. We have a huge game this week against Green Bay. We have to just keep building on it, keep fixing the mistakes – there were things in (the Raiders) game that we can work on to get better. That's how I approach it. The 24 hours is over, so I move forward and now it's time to get better."
Getting better would seem impossible, but there is something to be said for Foles staying hungry instead of being satisfied. After all, following the debacle against Dallas, he is not about to take anything for granted. If he gets content now, there is no way he will be able to maintain a high level of play. So, that begs the question: What, exactly, did Foles not like about his outing against the Raiders, and what does he think he could do better?
"On the quick screen, I can get the ball out (faster and with more velocity)," Foles said. "I didn't carry out all my run fakes, I have to make sure I carry out all those run fakes. I can even be quicker with some throws, maybe move in the pocket instead of rolling, like stepping up and getting out. There are just different things I see. I can't worry about that when I play, I just have to play naturally, but that's stuff I work on (in practice). And there are things I did well that I have to continue to work on. I can't just say, 'Oh, ok, I did that well one game, it's going to happen every game.' I have to keep working on it, doing the same stuff and then tweaking it along the way to make sure I keep getting better – quicker foot speed, getting to the target, keeping my left shoulder down, trajectory on the deep ball, different things like that. That's why I love this game, and that's why I come to work every day."
Another telling quote from Foles as it pertained to his performance against the Raiders was which completions he felt were his best. It was not any of the seven touchdown passes, or the 59-yard deep ball to DeSean Jackson. Rather, Foles pointed to two first-half third-and-long conversions to keep drives alive – drives that would end up resulting in touchdowns.
"I know we had a couple third-and-longs that we executed to (Jeff Maehl) and DeSean (Jackson)," Foles said, recalling the third-and-13 completion to Maehl over the middle for 19 yards in the first quarter and the second-quarter third-and-16 completion to Jackson for 17 yards while on the move. "Those were big-time plays to keep the chains moving. Guys did a great job finding the zone, and we were able to complete those. I thought those were huge executed plays in those situations because those are very hard – it's hard to get the first down in that situation."
Whether Foles ever has another game like he did against the Raiders remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – he would trade seven touchdowns for seven wins each and every time. Now it is about making sure his landmark performance is a harbinger of future success – a springboard to getting better and reaching new heights as a player, rather than just a remarkable blip on the radar.
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