Silent since suffering a fractured collarbone on November 2 in Houston, quarterback Nick Foles met the media on Monday and spoke with confidence about the improvements he's made, and will continue to make moving forward.
Guarantees? There are none, and Foles gets the business side of football and the competitive nature of the game and, well, let's just say he's eager to get it rolling again.
The quarterback position is the one the fans and media have focused on, and that is understandable. The Eagles did a lot of good things offensively in Year 2 under head coach Chip Kelly, and they also left a lot of points on the field. Foles played in eight games and threw 10 interceptions and backup Mark Sanchez played in nine games and threw 11 interceptions and those 21 picks contributed heavily to the league-high total of 36 giveaways for this football team and nearly obscured the fact that the two combined for 27 touchdown passes and 4,581 passing yards.
"The interceptions, I know y'all want to talk about that," Foles said at the 2 minute, 45-second mark of his press conference. "I can fix that. That's something I can fix. And that's something I will (fix) and continue to work to become a better player. You learn through times like that. We were winning games and I wasn't playing my best football but every week I felt like we were getting better and better as a team and the guys kept playing.
"When I went down you saw what kind of players we have. We won games. We were doing well. Mark went in and did a great job throughout this season, but I do feel like I'm progressing as a player. I still have a long ways to go, though."
The collarbone is still not 100 percent healed, so even if Sunday's game had been a win-or-go-home day, Foles would not have been cleared to play. His offseason goals are to get healthy and report back to the NovaCare Complex once the Collective Bargaining Agreement permits -- late March -- in the best shape of his life, prepared to fend off the inevitable competition that is going to come through any quarterbacks the Eagles might acquire via the draft, or trade or free-agent signing.
Who is the Eagles' quarterback for 2015? Right now it's Nick Foles, who enters the final year of his contract not interested in discussing that part of the equation. He believes he's the guy and the picture certainly favors that happening and if so, the Eagles will work on accentuating the great things that Foles does -- big arm, accurate, smart and terrific leadership and toughness -- and also focus on minimizing the turnovers that plagued the offense this season.
Getting Foles back healthy is huge for an offense that set a franchise record for points and completions. He's 14-4 as a starter and was, remember, the co-MVP of the Pro Bowl after having the historic 27-touchdown, 2-interception regular season as the Eagles won the NFC East.
Foles said that he had a lot of "mental growth" in the two months he was sidelined. He was still at the training sessions and in the meetings and in film study. He worked out with the strength and conditioning staff. He took the mental reps as he battled the disappointment of being sidelined.
"You want to be out there with your guys. You want to be out there leading them. When you're on the sidelines, it's very difficult," Foles said. "Any competitor, any guy who has ever played a sport or done anything where you're sitting out, it's extremely difficult. I believe there's a right way to do it, and the way you do it is you help the guys around you. It's a team game, that's why we play this. My job was just to be supportive of Mark, Matt (Barkley), G.J. (Kinne), of all those guys and just try to help the team in any way possible. I was able to learn a different role from being on the field and I was able to learn that role from being on the sidelines. I definitely learned a lot."
Foles is not a finished product, not with such a limited sample size. The interceptions and giveaways were a real problem and everyone understands that the mistakes must be limited. There are too many points to be scored with a scheme that is tremendous and with a talent base that clearly causes problems for defenses. Foles knows he made some poor decisions in his eight starts. He also knows the Eagles were winning and that the offensive line's health was getting better and that the season took a wicked turn when he landed on his collarbone in Houston.
"I know how to make smart decisions. I made some mistakes this year but I can work on those. It goes to studying film, studying your flaws and not being afraid to make an error," Foles said. "If I throw an interception -- a lot of people, and y'all probably see it, are deflated and are down. When I throw an interception, I can't wait to get back out there and throw another pass. I believe my defense is going to get me the ball back. I believe our special teams is going to make a play and that's how we win games. Though we weren't winning the turnover ratio, we were still winning games, and that's because the guys believe in each other."
Maybe it was because we hadn't heard from Foles in so long, but he had some extra fire on Monday. An edge. A bit of defiance. A ton of conviction. He's an upbeat young man and a confident one and he is, let's spell it out right here, the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles as it looks right now. Of course, there isn't a game until September, so there's no telling how the position changes between now and then.
It's Foles' intention to be that guy, to be healthy and ready to play football and take the Eagles forward. His offseason is well under way, and there isn't a player in the NFL who wants the time between now and when the players next report to go quickly. Nick Foles misses the game, and the Eagles certainly missed him in the second half of the 2014 season.