Foles impresses again as Eagles top Browns

Quarterback Nick Foles, filling in for the injured Michael Vick, started the game and threw two touchdown passes as the Eagles routed Cleveland and went to 3-0 in the preseason.
Quarterback Nick Foles, filling in for the injured Michael Vick, started the game and threw two touchdown passes as the Eagles routed Cleveland and went to 3-0 in the preseason. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 25, 2012

CLEVELAND - Nick Foles isn't Lou Gehrig, Mike Kakfa isn't Wally Pipp, and the Eagles' backup quarterback competition pales in comparison to the New York Yankees situation at first base many years ago.

But after Foles turned in another eye-opening outing under center, it is all but certain that the rookie quarterback has Wally Pipp'ed Kafka, who has been sidelined with a broken left hand.

Right, Andy Reid?

Even if Kafka had been healthy enough to play in the last two preseason games, there's a very good chance he would have lost his spot to Foles. The disparity between the two - in arm strength, pocket awareness, and poise - was evident through most of training camp.

But Foles is a rookie, Kafka has two years under his belt, and the natural progression of things may have taken longer than it has. But Foles has seized his opportunity - first, when Michael Vick left Monday night's game at New England early, and again Friday night in the Eagles' 27-10 victory over the Browns, when he started in place of the injured Vick.

"It's an opportunity to get better and help my teammates. That's the only way I look at it," Foles said. "Like I said before, I'm not worried about two, three, four [on the depth chart]."

He was not perfect, again. But he was very good. Perhaps the most impressive part of Foles' performance in the last two games - he faced very little adversity in the preseason opener against the Steelers - has been the way the rookie has responded after throwing interceptions.

"There were a couple that I think he'd like to have back," Reid said. "Those were young-guy mistakes. . . . He kept firing. You're looking at that as a coach - does he get gun-shy or does he continue to fire? - and he did it."

On Monday night, he bounced back from an interception before the half by leading the Eagles on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown scoring drive to open the second half. Against the Browns, he heaved an ill-advised bomb to a double-covered DeSean Jackson that was picked off by cornerback Joe Haden.

"I saw DeSean out there, and I tried to give him a ball that he could go after, and I underthrew him a little bit, which is a no-no in that situation," Foles said. ". . . Lesson learned. But like I said before, 'Good play, bad play, it's on to the next play.' "

But Foles shook off the error Friday and completed 11 of his next 17 pass attempts for 135 yards and two touchdowns. So far, he has played as well as Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg could ask.

There's no reason that Foles shouldn't be Vick's backup. In three games, the rookie has completed 36 of 57 passes (63.2 percent) for 507 yards and six touchdowns against two picks.

For the Eagles overall, this was a good game - their best in the preseason. The first team played less than a quarter, but both units capitalized on most of their chances and appeared to have greater focus.

There were mistakes - penalties, a missed assignment here and there - but there were also great examples of individual effort and the continued pass-rushing dominance of the defensive line.

Foles found a wide-open Brent Celek just short of the goal line in the first quarter for his first touchdown pass. The tight end barreled his way into the end zone for a 7-yard score.

After the Eagles forced a punt, linebacker Keenan Clayton made his bid to stay on the team when he blocked the kick. The Eagles recovered on the Browns' 2, and two plays later Foles - now working with the second unit - calmly flicked a touchdown pass to running back Dion Lewis over the middle.

Foles remained sharp with the second team. He tossed a beauty of a back-shoulder throw to Damaris Johnson that was initially ruled a 23-yard touchdown. But the receiver, who continues to dazzle on both offense and as a punt returner, stepped out of bounds.

Foles mixed in screen passes with 10-yard outs and took a few chances downfield - one time connecting with Johnson, who made a 45-yard grab almost from his back. He also shook off a sack - and left Kafka in his dust.

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