Foles not fazed by higher expectations

"You can count on me to bounce back," quarterback Nick Foles said of his "inconsistent" play in Minnesota.
"You can count on me to bounce back," quarterback Nick Foles said of his "inconsistent" play in Minnesota. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: December 21, 2013

There was a time earlier this season when a bad game by Nick Foles included just 11 completions and 80 yards. When the second-year Eagles quarterback now talks about a performance considered inconsistent, it's one with a career-high 428 yards and three touchdown passes.

For evidence of how the perception of Foles has changed, just look at how the expectations have changed. A five-game winning streak with an abundance of scoring and scarcity of turnovers can do that.

Entering Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, Foles is considered an asset to the Eagles offense, whereas earlier in the year he was an unknown variable.

"When you have success, people's expectations do grow, and when they see you play consistently well, that's what they expect every week," Foles said. "That's what I expect. I expect nothing different."

So when Foles discussed passing for career-high yardage in Sunday's 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, he agreed with coach Chip Kelly that the outing was "inconsistent." He missed throws he thought he should have completed. He had mechanical issues.

Kelly insists that the only metric he uses to determine whether a game is good or not is scoring more points than the other team. When asked Thursday whether his own standards have changed as outside expectations have risen, Foles said he expected the same level of production as he did when he was the backup.

"Not my standards. . . . That doesn't change," Foles said. "But the more you play the game, you adapt. Your game starts changing because you get more and more comfortable throwing different routes, different situations, and that's something I want to continue to improve on. That's a comfort level."

Kelly maintained that the Eagles "do the same exact things" with Foles as they did earlier this season with Michael Vick, and that any variation in the game plan is based on the matchup and not a greater understanding of Foles.

"Nick's had the ability to orchestrate this offense when we're in there, and that's what we do," Kelly said.

Foles is diligent and regimented, attributes that have served him well in adapting to Kelly. He cares about nuance. Foles explained how he needed to adjust the position of his left shoulder this week. He talked about how the ball sails when he throws off his back foot, and he can figure out how to fix the problem.

"You can count on me to bounce back," Foles said.

This has helped Foles adapt to both the system and the expectations. He had never run the zone-read before this season, but he has embraced that element of Kelly's offense. In the summer, Foles could be seen running around the perimeter of the practice field after a session as a way of reshaping his body.

His even-keeled personality has helped deflect attention.

"Those games in the past don't do anything for me right now," Foles said. They don't do anything for me in practice today, they don't do anything for me on Sunday."

The next two games will go a long way toward determining how Foles is viewed at the end of the season. The quarterbacks considered among the best in the NFL have led their teams to the playoffs. Foles will have an opportunity to do that during the next 10 days.

Foles has always considered wins and losses a quarterback statistic. This was the case when he was a 1-5 quarterback last season, and he feels that way with a 6-2 record as a starter this season. That makes him a .500 quarterback.

The expectations have ascended beyond those for just an average quarterback, and Foles is fine with that. The challenge is living up to them.

"I've just got to keep playing at a high level," Foles said. "I always wanted to play at a high level, I always knew I could go out there and do it. I've gone out there, I've executed plays, I've made mistakes. Just got to keep pushing that envelope."

Extra points

Cornerback Brandon Boykin cleared his concussion tests and was a full participant in Thursday's practice, putting him on track to play against the Bears. Safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee) continued to miss practice. . . . The Eagles practiced outdoors for the first time in two weeks. "It's really beneficial," Kelly said. "We'd rather be outdoors, all things considered."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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