Philly Sports Talk

Focus Friday: Quarterback Nick Foles

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals

This Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles march into Oakland to face the 3 – 4 Raiders, Nick Foles will be the focal point of the team. His dismal performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 still resonates in the mind of the fans and I am sure his teammates as well. Having a competitive performance this week will not be almost mandatory for Foles if he wants to save his career as an NFL quarterback, even as a backup.

The Eagles come into Sundays game 15th in passing in the NFL averaging 246.8 yards per game and 2nd in rushing averaging 150.4 yards per game despite Shady McCoy only gaining 103 total rushing yards over the last two games. This offense clearly needs a spark this week and without the “consistency” that Coach Chip Kelly refers to when speaking to the expectation of Foles’ performance this week, the Eagles may be facing their thirds straight loss in what continues to be a spiraling season for the birds.

Foles’ ability to incorporate tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz will also be key in the offensive success of the team this week. Ertz’ ability to stretch the field, along with Celek’s ability to block and serve as a safety valve on check downs for Foles will keep him upright and the offense moving down the field and even open up lanes and running room for Shady McCoy to not only get involved as well, but move forward down the field as opposed to his limited lateral movement by defenses in the previous two games.

Foles understands the importance of not only staying on the field, but also just being efficient and making the right plays instead of the great play. “Sometimes, as players, we try to do too much,” Foles said. “We try to make too many big plays. As a quarterback, you have the ball in your hand and you try to be a hero instead of staying with your reads and staying in rhythm, taking the easy throw sometimes.” Taking the easy throw and even throwing the ball away and not taking sacks will help Foles as well. Although Chip Kelly continuously says the read option is an option for whichever quarterback is in the game, catering the game plan to Foles’ strengths is key and should also allow him to remain comfortable and effective throughout the game.

Oakland comes into the game off of a 21-18 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They too have their own passing woes ranking 32nd in the NFL averaging just 176 yards passing per game. Raiders quarterback Terrell Pryor, who was once recruited by Chip Kelly in High School is still learning the position as well but makes up for is struggling passing ability by running the ball as he has been noted to do throughout his respective High School and Collegiate football career. In six games this season Pryor has thrown for 1,149 yards on 63.1 percent passing (99-of-157) with five touchdowns and seven interceptions for a QB rating of 77.2.

Pryor is also the Raiders’ leading rusher with 391 yards on 53 carries. His record-breaking 93-yard run last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers that was the longest TD run by a quarterback in NFL history. It was also the longest run from scrimmage in Raiders franchise history, eclipsing Bo Jackson’s 92-yarder in 1989.

While Pryor appears to be the Raiders quarterback for the future, Foles can only wonder what his future holds not only with the Eagles, but in the NFL. This week could be a make or break career for Foles, although he plans to control what’s happening now and not the future. “I focus on the here and now,” Foles said. “If you take care of that, the rest of it will take care of itself. Obviously, everybody has a goal of where they want to be, but if you put all of your focus into that, you forget about the present, you forget about what it takes on this day to play well.”

Let’s hope for Fole’s sake and the future of the Philadelphia Eagles, his focus creates a win in our future this Sunday.