Foles hopes to pass into win column at Linc

Posted: November 15, 2013

NICK FOLES still hasn't won a regular-season game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Of course, under Chip Kelly, Foles has started only one regular-season game at the Linc, and we all know how that went, even if the "why" remains a mystery. But it's an odd thing, to have a second-year quarterback, now ensconced as the top gun, about to make his 11th career start, and the home fans have never seen him walk off a winner.

"It just hasn't worked out that way," Foles said yesterday, as the 5-5 Eagles prepared for Sunday's visit from the 3-6 Washington Redskins, who might represent the Birds' best remaining opportunity to end a 10-game home losing streak that dates to Sept. 30, 2012. "I haven't started a whole lot of games [at home]. Hoping to get the first [win] this weekend."

Foles, 3-0 on the road this season with two NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards, gained his only 2012 victory - home or away - at Tampa last Dec. 9. Foles was 0-3 at home last season, 1-2 on the road. But really, by the time Foles took over for Michael Vick during a home loss to the Cowboys last Nov. 11, the Eagles were a decimated team rolling downhill fast. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans already were done for the year. LeSean McCoy then missed four of Foles' six starts, as did DeSean Jackson.

"We weren't winning anywhere last year," Kelce noted yesterday. Kelce said teammates aren't looking sideways at Foles, wondering if he will blow a gasket the way he did Oct. 20 at the Linc against Dallas, when Foles missed or couldn't locate open receivers and finished 11-for-29, leaving with 80 passing yards and a concussion.

"I don't think that Dallas game had anything to do with home or away. I don't think it was all him, either," Kelce said. "The whole team kind of played a little poorly. I don't think [Foles' overall record] has anything to do with home or away. That's just how it's kind of unfolded, unfortunately.

"I think over the past few weeks he's played tremendous football," tying an NFL record with seven touchdown passes at Oakland, adding three more in a victory last week at Green Bay. "I know that we as an offense have been very productive, and he's throwing the ball pretty well."

There has been a lot of talk this week about how the Eagles expect a different Robert Griffin III than the rusty, out-of-sync QB they saw in their 33-27 season-opening victory over the Redskins at FedEx Field. What isn't discussed as much is that Washington will also face a different quarterback, with Michael Vick still sidelined by a hamstring injury. The Redskins might feel they know Foles from his two appearances against them last season, including his first career start in a loss at FedEx last Nov. 18, but Foles is in a different offense now, and is a much more accomplished QB.

"You've just got to trust your gut as a quarterback," Foles said yesterday, when asked what he's learned. "There's going to be times to fit the ball in a tight window, and there's going to be times that hey, play for the next play, maybe dump it down and be smart with the ball and keep the chains moving. It's really just managing the game, managing the situation, the down and distance, where you are on the field, the time . . . [learning] game management's been huge."

Foles said part of his growth has been getting on the same page with Kelly, seeing the game as the coach sees it.

"I love that he's aggressive," Foles said. "Now we're at the point where in the game, I know what he's going to call and I know why he's calling it."

Foles agreed that he has benefited from several weeks of taking starter's reps in practice.

"It's just seeing how the receivers'll run their routes, knowing how the line's blocking, stepping up in the pocket - you just really get the feel for how the guys are gonna run, where they're gonna be, how to throw 'em different balls."

"I think he's getting a little bit more comfortable, the game's probably slowing down for him a little," tight end Brent Celek said of Foles.

Foles was asked if his background in basketball - he was recruited by Georgetown - helps him as a quarterback.

"You see a lot of point guards, like Chris Paul, look one way and throw it the other. You see how the eyes and the body can be so deceptive on the basketball court; I just try to take that and use it on the football field," he said.

Foles, always friendly with the media but often extremely careful and bland, seems to be loosening up as his twice-a-week press conferences progress. Yesterday, when a reporter began a question by asserting that Foles ran a 5.2 40 at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, Foles interrupted with mock anger: "I did not run a 5.2! I ran a 5.1 . . . 5.13."

He also discussed his outlook on such things as pump-faking, which he has done more of lately, with success.

"The key [thing with] a pump fake is, you don't want to be late on the throw," he said.

But Foles seemed to stiffen a bit when an NFL Network reporter asked if he considers the Eagles "his" team now. That's still a touchy question, one Kelly won't address, even if Vick has made it plain - and did so again yesterday, this time for some TV cameras - that he is willing to support Foles.

"I'm letting everything happen naturally. I'm not worrying about that," Foles said. "I feel confident out there. I know we all play for each other, and we just have to keep it going."


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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