New week, new story for Kelly, Foles

Nick Foles unleashes a pass in the second quarter against the Raiders. He had more touchdown passes (seven) than incompletions (six). YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Nick Foles unleashes a pass in the second quarter against the Raiders. He had more touchdown passes (seven) than incompletions (six). YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 05, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. - One week ago, Nick Foles was emerging from the fog of concussion to learn that his career as a potential Eagles starting quarterback had pretty much been dismissed based on three bad quarters against the Dallas Cowboys.

Chip Kelly, who hadn't been concussed as far as we know, had gone from being the architect of an offense that was a Rubik's Cube for defenses to just another guy playing tic-tac-toe.

The perception that the offense had somehow stumbled and couldn't get up was understandable. The team hadn't scored a touchdown for two straight games. First Foles and then Michael Vick went out with injuries and third-string Matt Barkley didn't do much to bolster the notion that any quarterback can step in and pick up the fallen flag and carry it for Kelly's offense.

And then Sunday's game happened in the decrepit O.co Coliseum, with its legions of costumed fans and its eternal flame to honor team founder Al Davis, which shuts off as soon as the game ends.

It happened, and Nick Foles, who went into the game needing luck to keep his job, came out of it on the same page of the NFL record book as Sid Luckman and a few other guys who threw seven touchdown passes in a game.

Kelly got back his genius crown, the Eagles kept pace just behind the Cowboys in the division, the defense continued to defy expectations, and the season that will neither take off nor crash continued on its unpredictable way.

"We called a lot of the same plays we called the last two weeks. We just executed them. That's the thing," Kelly said. "Everything we called today, we've had in before. Everybody understood that the coaches weren't good and the players weren't good on offense for the last two weeks. Today, we were good. If we could have fixed it with one thing, you'd do it. But it's not like the muffler is hanging, so you just take a screwdriver and tighten it up and go. Give these guys credit. They stuck to the plan and executed it."

It is worth mentioning that the opponent didn't hurt the Eagles resurgence on Sunday. Oakland has played some decent games this season, and came into the game 3-1 at home, but the Raiders were just awful in this one.

Their defense was ranked 10th overall in the NFL, but the Raiders don't get a lot of pressure on the quarterback and don't cover well at all. They were effective against the run - and held LeSean McCoy to 44 yards on 12 carries - but they didn't really have a way to make Foles uncomfortable, and that proved to be an oversight.

As in any other sport, the game comes down to individual and team matchups and there are some matchups that can only go a certain way. Sunday's game had that feel, or at least it did after the boulder began rolling downhill and flattened the Raiders.

A week ago, Foles couldn't play and Kelly couldn't coach. Right now, that sounds ludicrous. A week from now, after the Eagles play the Packers in Green Bay, there might be another course correction. If they win that game 49-20, it will mean a little more than the win over Oakland meant.

"When the offense is going crazy, it's an energy boost for the entire sideline," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We were trying to get them the ball back so they can score even more points. That's the first time we've been part of an offense that put up that many points."

The defense was able to hand the ball back with regularity because Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor was placed in a situation where he had to beat the Eagles with his passing ability, and that isn't a good situation for him. Once the Eagles got a significant lead, things got worse for Pryor, but aside from breaking off a couple of pretty decent runs, there was nothing much he did right all day.

If that is a cautionary tale about the lure of having a mobile quarterback in today's NFL, it is probably one that Kelly has thought about. For every Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, there are two Terrelle Pryors, guys whose added dimension becomes one-dimensional without a balanced set of weapons.

Nick Foles, as Kelly said Sunday, is not a "blazer," but he moved around well enough to find the sweet spot of the pocket and throw for 406 yards before being lifted with nearly 12 minutes left in the game.

He's not going to convince the Eagles that they don't need to reassess their quarterback options after this season. (Well, if he throws seven touchdowns every game, maybe he will.) He's not going to erase all the concerns about his ability, or erase the Dallas game film.

Foles can't do everything, after all, but for one unbelievable game, it certainly seemed as if he could.


bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports


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