Foles' humble approach paying dividends

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
4:00
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Eagles on Oct. 20. They didn’t defeat quarterback Nick Foles.

The Cowboys dominated Foles. They knocked him out of the game with a concussion. But in Foles’ vocabulary, he would be “defeated” only if he let that one game bleed into the games after it.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles
AP Photo/Michael PerezThe Eagles, who face the Cowboys in Week 17, will continue to lean on QB Nick Foles, just as they have in seven wins out of Foles' nine starts.
In Foles' next game -- after missing a week with the concussion -- he threw for an NFL record-tying seven touchdowns in Oakland. Foles is 6-1 as a starter since that Dallas game, and he put up 30 points in his lone loss.

“You can’t let one game defeat you,” Foles said after leading the Eagles to a 54-11 blowout win against the Chicago Bears Sunday night. “If I know anything about myself, it’s that I am going to keep fighting. You learn from mistakes in games. You learn from games like that and you move forward.”

The win against the Bears set up a virtual playoff game next Sunday night. Of course, it pits Foles and the Eagles against the Cowboys again. This time, the game is in Dallas, a few hours’ drive from Foles’ hometown of Austin.

To win the game and the NFC East title, the Eagles need the Foles who has excelled in every game he has played this season with that one glaring exception.

Coach Chip Kelly said he believes that’s the Foles we’ll see.

“His confidence is a by-product of his experience,” Kelly said. “The more looks he sees, he’s a very quick study. We need to make mistakes, but you have to be able to learn from your mistakes. That’s one thing Nick does a very good job with. He’s very analytical of himself, very critical of himself in a really constructive way.

“The first part is, we don’t make excuses. If you don’t do something right, you’ve got to admit to it first before you can correct it. If you continue to make an excuse, then you’re not acknowledging that you made a mistake in the first place.”

Humility is a part of that. A big ego, whether it’s in a quarterback, a coach or any other player, can prevent the kind of self-analysis Kelly is talking about. That is not a problem with Foles.

When he tied the NFL record with those seven touchdowns in Oakland, Foles complimented his blockers and receivers. Sunday night, after completing 21 of 25 passes, Foles went out of his way to commend punter Donnie Jones for setting the franchise’s season record for punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

There are quarterbacks out there who don’t know their punter's names, let alone single them out for praise. So this is a guy who watches his own performances with eyes unclouded by ego or vanity.

“He's just really matter of fact,” Kelly said, “very on point with what he's got to do and what he's got to correct if he doesn't do it the right way.”

“Part of playing quarterback is owning up to everything, owning up to mistakes," Foles said. "Your teammates are always looking to you as a leader. If you make mistakes and you learn from them, you’re making yourself a better player and a better person instead of just blaming someone else."

It is an approach that has carried Foles through this breakout season: 25 touchdowns, two interceptions, 118.8 passer rating, a 7-2 record as a starter.

That one game against Dallas hasn't defeated him. This next one could help to define him.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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