January 09, 2018
There's no question that quarterback play is important in the postseason. And, at least in large part, the drop off from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles is part of the reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are home underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons in Saturday's NFC division round game at the Linc.
While the confidence in Foles outside the walls of the NovaCare Complex may be wavering, that's not the case among those who actually have a chance at impacting the final results of the game. And that includes Foles himself.
"I think there are two reasons why his confidence hasn't wavered," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said on Monday. "First, because of the length and breadth of his career. There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence and knowing – I've seen the best quarterbacks in the world, the best quarterbacks in the world have a bad game or two in a row. I mean, the best. It happens. So all the reason to have confidence.
"But I think secondly, and equally as important, is the confidence that he has in the other guys surrounding him, mainly the guys up front, his receivers, the defense that is on the other side of the ball, special teams. This is a team. Coach [Pederson] said at the beginning of the year, we were going to set out to do something special and that's what we believe. That's what we believe we're in the process of doing."
On Tuesday, Pederson echoed that sentiment.
"My message to Nick is, 'Listen, we've got a great opportunity. Let's go be Nick; let's go play; let's go execute the offense,'" he said. "To the team, it's the same thing. We've got a great opportunity, [our] backs are against the wall, let's come out swinging and see what happens."
Foles is hardly a new kid on the block. Sure, he was only signed this past offseason, but he's been around the league and with the team in practice long enough before being thrust into the starting role that they should know what they have in him.
Still, the Eagles want to make sure they can put him in the best position to succeed against a much-improved Falcons defense. And that includes going back and watching old tape, including from his lone playoff appearance, a 2014 loss to the Saints that also happens to be the Eagles' last postseason appearance.
"I think we use everything at our disposal to get our team ready, which includes learning every detail," said Reich. "It's like sometimes when you have children, where you want to know every move, and you want to know what makes them tick. As coaches, that's what we do. We want to know what makes our players tick."
But just because Reich compared the Eagles staff to an over-protective parent, that doesn't mean they'll be treating their quarterback like a child. They want Foles to stay aggressive and take shots down the field when they're there.
"Sure [we do]. He's playing quarterback, you know? [If the] opportunity's there, rip it. If it's not, check it down," Pederson said. "That's been the mindset all season long and we're not going to change it now."
They were much more aggressive when they had an MVP candidate at quarterback, but in recent weeks, we've seen fewer and fewer of those deep balls. However, that could change this weekend against a Falcons defensive scheme that can leave some openings down the field.
And in Foles, the Eagles believe they have a quarterback who is more than willing to take those chances.
"As much as we and everybody else wants to run the football, you have to be able to stay aggressive in the pass game and get the ball down the field," Reich said. "Nick has proven that over the length and entirety of his career. He not only can get the ball downfield, he can do so very well. He wants to throw the ball downfield. He's aggressive in his mindset, as aggressive a guy as I've been around. He's looking to throw it down the field.
"Some guys are the dink-and-dunk kind of guys. That's not Nick. Nick is aggressive."
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports