Nick Foles spent 12 weeks in the background, purposefully shunning attention with the real possibility that he had taken his last snap for the franchise he led to the Super Bowl. But Philadelphia can’t seem to escape Foles -- or Foles can’t seem to escape Philadelphia -- so there he was in Los Angeles, with the Eagles heavy underdogs on national television, and Foles needed to save the season.
“It was really emotional,” Foles said of his week after he finished 24 of 31 for 270 yards and one interception. “You hate for your teammate to get hurt. ... You go through the human emotions, I don’t care what ... I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t matter when you step on the field. It’s a new day. It was really dealing with the emotions, prepping as hard as I could, and realize I’m not alone. I have great teammates out there, all I need to do is spread the ball around, lean on them, and stay in the moment.”
With Foles back in the lineup, it suddenly brought speculation about his future to the forefront. It’s unknown where Foles will play in 2019 or how an exit will materialize with the Eagles. It’s impossible to ignore the big-picture implications for Foles, and even he had to fight it last week.
“No, that part does creep in – there is a human side – but no, I’m very self-aware that those distractions don’t do you any good,” Foles said. “I think a big part of that was a couple years ago when I was going to step away from the game, I really thrived in staying in the moment and just enjoying it. We’ll see what happens. But I really enjoy the moment and be in the present in all that I do.”
Foles admitted “there was a lot going on in my head.” He tried to simplify it, which was a message he preached during the magical postseason run. Foles called the huddle his “sanctuary,” noting that in an age of Twitter and Instagram and cameras everywhere he goes, there’s “something really special about” being present.
He said he tries to not even get caught up in the score or the time of the game, a contradiction for the hyper-alert nature of most quarterbacks. Rather, Foles said he just wanted to play, as if there was a schoolyard quality to his performance.
“When I’m called upon, just go out there and read and react – trust my instincts,” Foles said. “I lean on my teammates.”
» GRADING THE EAGLES: Performance in Los Angeles earns an 'A'
Those teammates don’t need much convincing of Foles. When asked if the Eagles rallied around Foles, safety Malcolm Jenkins said the Eagles don’t need to do so because “he’s a Super Bowl MVP.” They know what he can do.
The players will avoid a quarterback controversy – Wentz’s teammates know he’s the franchise quarterback – but they also don’t believe their season is finished just because Wentz is on the sideline.
“Nick had a great game and helped our team win,” Jenkins said. “We don’t get into who’s doing what. Right now, Nick’s the quarterback and he had a hell of a game and that helped us win the game. We know we have that in Nick. For us, it’s always about we go through the week, who are we going into the game with, that’s who we’re trying to win with.”
They’re also aware of a convenient storyline: One year ago, Foles relieved Wentz in the same stadium to begin the improbable Super Bowl run. Jenkins noted that it’s “ironic” Foles' opportunity came again in Los Angeles, although the Eagles are in a different situation this time around. And in a city that knows how to produce drama, Foles knew it fit a script.
“I know that’s going to be that story, but it’s a new year, new team, different situation,” Foles said. “Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Coach Doug Pederson, while praising Foles, appeared to make an effort to avoid putting Foles on a pedestal. He emphasized that it’s not about one player – wasn’t before, isn’t now. And Foles shared a similar sentiment, disagreeing that he’s here to save the team.