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Nick Foles: Now Is The Time To Improve

Posted May 30, 2014

On an unseasonably chilly, brisk Philadelphia spring day, Nick Foles led his teammates on the field for another session of OTAs, the first one of 2014 open to the media. He piloted the first-team offense with poise and precision, going through his progressions and finding the open receiver with aplomb. Still, much like last season, Foles stressed the need for steady improvement overall and on a personal level.

“I think I have to continue to work on fundamentals,” Foles said. “That’s something that I’ll preach all the time – continue to get better at the footwork, better with fakes, understanding defensive recognition. It’s really all the little things. I know it’s cliché, but that’s the truth. You really have to hone in on that. We go out there every day and work on fundamentals, go against our defense and we’re really flying around. It’s just continuing to be consistent, be smart with the football, and that’s an everyday thing. When you get complacent with that is when you can fall through and turn the ball over and stuff like that happens. So we just continue to stress (fundamentals).”

Foles enters the 2014 season as the unquestioned starter at quarterback for the first time in his NFL career, which heightens scrutiny and adds a lot more responsibility, especially from a leadership standpoint. It is also, however, an opportunity he relishes and has been working towards since his first day as an Eagle.

“When I go out there and play, I’m not forcing anything, I’m just playing football,” Foles said. “Being a leader to these guys, I’m going to naturally let my instincts take over. And it makes it easier because I’m not trying to be someone else, I’m just taking it in stride. This year is a little different, and there’s going to be a little more on my plate, but it’s just been a gradual growth through the last couple years to get to this point. And then I just have to continue to grow each and every day and have fun doing it.”

The offense will look different in 2014 with the return of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who is a full participant after recovering from his season-ending knee injury and the addition of wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff and running back Darren Sproles. Adding such talented players to an already deep group has Foles excited about what the offense can accomplish for an encore.

“I think we’re going to be very successful with the guys we have here,” Foles said. “It’s going to take working every day. The most important thing is, you have to execute the plays. We have the guys here to do that, now we have to put the work in. Me saying it right now does not mean anything. I know I have to go out there every day and help those guys get better and grow, and I have to be on time, give them good balls, let them know what I want on (a certain) route. We do have guys here that can make plays, and we can be successful with them.”

That collection of talent, combined with the continuity and familiarity bred by being in Chip Kelly’s system for over a year now has Foles believing the process will be accelerated and the returns even greater.

“Last year at this time, we were trying to learn the offense,” Foles said. “It was very vanilla, and every day was a learning curve and we had to re-do the plays. Right now we have a lot more stuff in, and guys are very comfortable with running what we have and we’re adding more. I think it’s just a comfort zone with everybody, and we can really go fast. It’s really helped the rookie learning curve because we have the vets who can teach them what to do. That helps a lot. You saw at practice (Thursday), we can really fly around and get some good work in.”

The bitter taste of losing to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs still resonates with the players and showed them just how far they have to go to reach their ultimate goal. These OTAs are the first step in that direction, one in which Foles helps lead the way.

“I think that we have a great group of guys that understand we have to work every day because this is a tough league,” Foles said. “Our last game we played in was against the Saints and we lost, so everybody remembers that and we know, 'Hey, we were beat, so we have to continue to get better.'”

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