LANDOVER, Md. – Nick Foles had big expectations for his first NFL start. Visions of touchdowns, big plays and, most importantly, victory danced in his head as the rookie third-round pick thought about Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately, Sunday's starting debut didn't go quite as planned for the 6-6 signal caller. Were there bright spots and glimpses of a promising future? Yes, but in the end, a 31-6 loss that dropped the Eagles to 3-7 can't be viewed as anything but a significant letdown.
"You always visualize the positives. Before games, you visualize what you've studied all week, what you've done in practice, just the feel for the game," Foles said following the game. "Sometimes, things don't happen that way. Today was a rough game. I didn't play well at all. I need to do a lot of things better. I'm a guy who's going to take this stuff and I'm going to learn from it.
"I'll study the film. Fundamentally, what can I do better? So, there's a lot of learning there and I try to take the positive out of anything. That's just how I am as a person. It was a rough game, but I'm going to take the positive out and make stuff better."
Things began to go south for Foles and the Eagles on the opening drive of the game, after the team elected to receive. On 3rd-and-8, the Eagles' third play from scrimmage, Foles rolled right and threw for a tightly covered Brent Celek. The ball bounced off of Celek's hands and into the air, where it was then intercepted by Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who returned the ball to the Eagles' 9-yard-line. The Redskins would score a touchdown two plays later, giving them a 7-0 lead the Eagles could never overcome.
"We put ourselves in a hole," said Foles. "I threw an interception, they got great field position and put it in.
"I moved out of the pocket, I've got to throw a more accurate ball."
Foles added another interception in the first quarter on a third down play that looked like a miscommunication with either Jeremy Maclin or DeSean Jackson, who both ran inside-breaking routes down the field while Foles delivered the ball to the outside, where it was intercepted by Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather.
"I have to throw a better ball," Foles said. "It just comes down to accuracy. I'm alright with the decision, I've just got to be more accurate, have to really step into the ball. That's stuff that I can fix and get better at. I know that. I know I can fix that, I know I can work at it. I know who I am, so I'm going to keep pushing."
On the day, Foles was 21-of-46 for 204 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 40.5. But there was promise on the day for Foles, despite the lopsided final score. When he had time to throw, Foles often delivered the ball with pace and accuracy. Of course, the problem was often that Foles did not have plenty of time to throw throughout the game. He was sacked four times and was pressured throughout. There were also at least five accepted penalties on the offensive line, with another holding penalty declined.
For their part, the offensive line had nothing but good things to say about their teammate.
"I think he did well," said left guard Evan Mathis. "Obviously, there's going to be a learning curve for a rookie quarterback coming straight into the NFL like that. We've got to give him some time."
"Nick's a rookie," said King Dunlap, who started at left tackle. "He's got great, great talent. He's got a great arm. He's smart. He works real, real hard. So whatever mistakes he did make today, I guarantee you he won't make them next week because that's just how hard he works and that's the mentality he has."
Foles and the offense also were not able to get big plays downfield, with Foles' longest completion coming in at 25 yards. In fact, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who was often lined up in the slot with Jason Avant out, combined for only two catches for five yards.
"I just wasn't able to get it to them," said Foles. "Those guys are playmakers. We've got to be able to get them the ball. They do a lot of great things for us. They were running hard all day. As a quarterback, I've got to figure out, when I get my chances, how to get them the ball."
Rest assured, though, that this is only the beginning for Foles. If he does end up starting again next week on Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers, Foles expects a stark learning curve.
"Tomorrow's a new day," he said. "Tomorrow's an opportunity to get better and I will get better. I know that. And I know everyone on our team's going to get better. This season hasn't gone like we wanted it to, but guys are going to keep coming to work. Guys love this game. We have great coaches, owners. We're going to keep fighting. Great fans. Philadelphia Eagles is a great place to play football and we're going to continue to work hard."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.