Nick Foles is having a great season. Michael Vick got off to a hot start before he got hurt. Chip Kelly’s offense and coaching are big reasons why, but it sounds like QB coach Bill Lazor is also part of the equation.
For Foles, there have been a lot of great games this season. He leads the NFL in passer rating (117.0) and yards per attempt (9.02). Foles has 23 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s completed 62 percent of his passes.
Lazor, however, is not interested in the numbers. There may be a play where Foles completes a pass that draws praise from the announcers and the fans in the stands. But the QBs coach may notice an issue with Foles’ mechanics.
“We spend just as much time on plays that were completions that maybe his footwork wasn’t just right,” Lazor explained. “We coach every play. It isn’t just a completion or incompletions. It’s, ‘Did I do it exactly right?’ ”
Added Foles: “It’s one of those things where you close the door and you try to get better. There’s gonna be things to work on. Coach Lazor’s gonna try to point out the stuff that we did well and he’s gonna point out the stuff that we need to work on. That’s what a coach does. And he’s very detail-oriented with what he does. So I always get a lot out of the film sessions.”
I love the fact that Lazor is focusing on the details and not just the results. Most coaches are like that, but you will find some who ease up when a player is having success and let the guy get away poor fundamentals. That can catch up to the player over time. We saw this with Vick and the way he was handled by the Falcons coaches early in his career.
It is also very encouraging that Foles embraces this kind of coaching. John Madden always said that you wanted to be hardest on the players when things were going well. When a player or team struggled, they’d get plenty of criticism. It might come from neighbors, strangers or even their wives. When things go well, those same people heap praise on you like nobody’s business. That’s when smart coaches will continue to be hard on the players, to help keep them focused.
I loved this nugget from the article.
Players get Mondays off, although Foles usually shows up to the team facility anyway to get a workout in and review the tape on his own.
One of the biggest challenges for young players is how to handle success. It sounds like Foles is staying focused on doing the things that helped to make him successful in the first place. Zach Berman wrote a good piece on Foles handling increased expectations well.
“When you have success, people’s expectations do grow, and when they see you play consistently well, that’s what they expect every week,” Foles said. “That’s what I expect. I expect nothing different.”
It’s just like Chip Kelly says. There is no moment when you can relax. Tom Brady has 3 Super Bowl rings, a model wife and zillions of dollars in the bank. What doe he hear about? The fact he hasn’t won a SB in a decade. Peyton Manning is having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. He hasn’t won so much as a playoff game since 2009. And he’s only 2-5 in his last 7 postseason games. Do you think Peyton is comfortable with his 2006 SB win? Heck no.
Foles can enjoy his success, but he cannot get satisfied. He cannot get complacent. Maybe after he wins 3 SBs and marries Nina Agdal he can have 5 minutes to relax, but until then he is doing the right thing by grinding away. That’s how the great ones stay at the top. Nick isn’t great or at the top, but that’s how you make a run at getting there.
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Ultimately, they could take the field knowing they need only to beat the Chicago Bears to wrap up the NFC East, should Washington defeat visiting Dallas earlier in the day (1 p.m., Fox 29). Or they could take the field knowing they can’t possibly wrap up a playoff spot, win or lose, until they play at Dallas the next Sunday, Dec. 29. Should Dallas win this week, the only thing an Eagles win or loss against Chicago could affect is whether the Birds have a shot at the third or only the fourth seed.
Whether the Eagles acknowledge it or not, those early games will be part of the backdrop Sunday night. The Bears, 8-6 just like the Eagles, Chicago leading the NFC North, might also find themselves playing only for seeding, depending on what happens earlier in the day with the Packers-Steelers and the Lions-Giants. If the Lions lose and the Packers win, the final-week Bears-Packers showdown will determine the NFC North winner.
Will the Dallas game impact the way the Eagles play? This is the ultimate test for Kelly and his “live in the moment” style. Kelly will be all-in on the Bears. Will his players? If he’s done a good enough job of coaching them to believe in his systems and philosophies this year, they will stay focused on the task at hand. There are no guarantees that will happen.
I don’t see the Eagles relaxing. The #3 seed is still up for grabs. This game is at home. This is going to be a national TV game. I think you’re more likely to lose focus in a situation like last Sunday (bad team/quiet dome/1pm kick).
That isn’t to say the Eagles can’t lose. The Bears will be favored to win this game by plenty of people. You can easily argue they are the better team. I just think the Eagles would be more likely to lose because they got out-played than any circumstances.
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Coolest story in a while…a former Eagles cheerleader is now an army intelligence officer.