Fans may still be celebrating Sunday afternoon's dramatic 23-21 victory, but for the Eagles players, that party ended as soon as the team plane landed in Philadelphia Sunday night. Playing on Thursday means the team must quickly turn the page and get ready for another tough test against the Bengals.
For quarterback Nick Foles, this is likely to be his biggest challenge yet. Foles is coming off the best outing of his young career, in which he threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns, while running in another score. But with only three days of rest between games, he must digest the film, correct his mistakes in practice and learn the game plan. It's a difficult proposition, but Foles is handling it in stride.
"Everything is really compacted so it's a short week to study a lot of film," Foles said after practice Wednesday. "I think the big thing is to study efficiently. Eventually you've got to rest too. That's really important, to get the body ready and the mind ready for the game ... Right now we're going to keep studying, look over our practice tape of what we're going to do, and keep studying."
As if playing on a short week weren't enough, Foles will be facing the best defense he has seen thus far. The Bengals are ranked seventh against the run and 10th against the pass. Winning Thursday night will require the entire team to step up like they did last Sunday.
"They are a very tough defense on (stopping the run) and (stopping the pass)," Foles said. "All we have is really today and tomorrow (to prepare) and then the day of the game to keep watching film and getting in the playbook. It's going to be a tough task for us but we have to stick together, play well on all sides of the ball and play together as a team."
Last Sunday, Foles was sacked six times, and the offensive line struggled to consistently protect the quarterback. This is an issue both he and the offensive line will need to correct in a hurry, as Cincinnati's 42 sacks are the most of any team in the NFL. After giving up two sacks to Buccaneers lineman Gerald McCoy, the offensive line is facing another difficult assignment in defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The third-year player leads the Bengals (and all defensive tackles) with 10.5 sacks.
"I'm going to have to do a great job with the blitz pickup," Foles said. "The big thing is just running our offense well and executing well … I know it's a great task for our offensive linemen and I know they're ready to go. Blitz pickup and just one-on-one up front is going to be big. We just have to win the battles."
There is never much time to enjoy a win in the NFL. Each week provides a new opponent and demands renewed focus. On this short week, Foles will be tested mentally like never before. But as always, the moment doesn't seem too big for Foles. He's ready to improve his game and get the win.
"We want to win every game," Foles said. "The first game is this week and it was great to get the win last week. There are a lot of things to improve on from last week so we need to go out there this week, play together as a team, keep improving, keep pushing each other, keep playing for each other, and just get the win."
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