At the beginning of his Wednesday press conference, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur discussed the importance of tomorrow's Thanksgiving holiday, saying that it's important for everyone around the team to get away for at least a few hours and be thankful for all that they have.
One thing that Shurmur will most likely not be thankful for is the disruptive Arizona Cardinals defense that the Eagles will face this Sunday. Not only are the Cardinals the second best run-stopping team in the league, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles also has an affinity for the blitz.
"They're an outstanding football team, let's make no mistake," Shurmur said. "They're very talented when you speak specifically about their defense. They've got Pro Bowl players all over the place. They're big, they're physical, they like to pressure and they challenge everything, so it's going to be a real test for us this weekend.
"Their blitz percentage has been pretty consistent no matter who they've played or what style of offense (they play against). I think they believe in pressuring. They trust their corners in their ability to cover, whether it's a man-pressure or some kind of a fire zone, so I don't think it really matters what you do on offense. I do know that they believe in getting pressure on the quarterback."
Arizona has tallied 29 sacks on the season, which is in the middle of the pack in terms of NFL rankings, but opposing quarterbacks have the fifth-lowest passer rating against the Cardinals blitz this season. According to Stats, Inc., Nick Foles is the best NFL quarterback against the blitz, completing 60 percent of his passes with four touchdowns. Something's got to give, right?
"We've talked about it before, but (Foles) sees the field extremely well," Shurmur explained. "He understands what the defense is going to do going into the game, and then he's able to come back and talk about where the pressure came from and where he has to go with the football. He's very aware of what a defense can and will do to him, but I think that gets better with time and I anticipate that he'll get even better this week.
"Teams will pressure, as we know, for a certain percentage, and I think he's done a good job on third downs in terms of understanding where the pressure comes and getting the ball out. He's had to throw the ball hot at times, which means there is an extra rusher coming. There are times when he's had pressure around him and he's kept a downfield focus and made a throw. He's a big guy, he's a tall guy, but he's a good athlete. If there is pressure or a little bit of noise in the pocket, he has the ability to slide and make a throw."
Foles has continually shown improvement in every game this season, and the accolades seem to just keep rolling in. On Wednesday morning, Foles was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November. The award may not have been much of a surprise, as Foles finished the month 3-0 with a passer rating of 152.8, the highest passer rating for any quarterback in a single month in NFL history.
If the Eagles quarterback continues to play at such a high level, fans will have higher and higher expectations for the way that he plays, but his offensive coordinator isn't worried about those increased demands. After all, it's like Shurmur said - Foles works well with pressure.
"Nick is the same," Shurmur said. "I prefer (that mentality) in a quarterback. He's very business-like and he's very matter-of-fact. Coaches and players at times, their emotions go up and down and somebody somewhere has to keep calm, and I think that's what Nick does. He has a calm presence, although he has the ability to express his emotions of happiness or displeasure sometimes in ways that aren't obvious, and I think that's important too, but I don't think you'll see anything different from Nick."