PHILADELPHIA -- If Chip Kelly decides he has seen enough of Nick Foles at quarterback, you’ll know it. Foles won’t be playing quarterback for the Eagles anymore.
Until that day arrives, and it’s possible it may not anytime soon, Kelly is going to continue to give Foles his full support. That’s just the way most coaches handle questions about their quarterback.
“What’s our record, 5-2?” Kelly said Monday. “Nick’s 5-2. You should rate your quarterback in terms of how you win and how you’re losing. In both games we lost, we’ve had a chance to win the game on the offensive side of the ball. We just didn’t execute in those situations.”
Follow that logic a step further, though, and you see the issue more clearly. In the two games the Eagles lost, it was Foles who “didn’t execute” in the game-deciding situations. He threw two incompletions from the 1-yard line in San Francisco and threw three incompletions from the 16-yard line in Arizona on Sunday. Foles was also responsible for two interceptions against the Cardinals.
“It’s not a consistent thing,” Kelly said. “We’ve thrown nine interceptions, but there’s not a consistent, `We’re throwing this route, and we’re off in timing because it’s this.’ Sometimes it’s the rush, sometimes we’re not running the proper route, sometimes it’s the quarterback. If it was one thing, it would be easily fixable, but it’s not one thing.”
Pressed on Foles’ performance, Kelly started reeling off positive plays Foles made on Sunday: the 50-yard bomb to Riley Cooper, a throw to Jeremy Maclin. After the game, Foles again talked about his mistakes as things he can learn from and correct.
But the bottom line is pretty clear. Foles has to stop talking about that and actually follow through. The Eagles have won five games in spite of turnovers and mistakes. They have lost two because of those elements. The bigger the game, the more competent the opponent, the more likely those miscues are to cause problems.
If the Eagles got only field goals from the possessions that ended in turnovers on Sunday, they would have scored 29 points. In a game they lost 24-20, that’s a significant difference. But it’s even bigger. The entire tone of the game changes when you’re moving the ball and scoring. If the score was 26-17 when the Eagles had the ball at the Arizona 1-yard line, maybe Kelly would have tried for a touchdown that would have driven a stake through the Cardinals’ hearts. Or maybe a field goal there makes it 29-17 and that’s enough of a stake.
But that assumes the Eagles settle for field goals on those possessions. Score touchdowns on two of the three turnover drives and suddenly the Eagles are ahead 37-17 in the late going. That’s a very different game from the one they found themselves in. Even then, with one great throw, Foles could have turned a loss into a win.
“Yes, I made mistakes,” Foles said. “But I will continue to work to correct them. We can’t have turnovers. It’s really tough to overcome turnovers. … That’s something I need to work on to help our team out, to help us be successful.”
The words are right. The next step, acting on those words, is more important.