Nick Foles looked like a shell of the Super Bowl MVP on Thursday night's 5-0 loss to Cleveland. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback struggled to connect with backup receivers, looked uncomfortable in the pocket and made several boneheaded decisions that led to turnovers.
"There's time when I feel good and times when I'm making mistakes," Foles said after the game, via the team's transcript. "It's as simple as that. I just have to keep being critical of myself, keep watching the film and understanding what's going on. I have to keep playing, keep going through it. Obviously, I haven't been myself and I expect a lot of myself, but I have to keep learning. I've played this game a long time, I know how to address this and keep moving forward while keeping that positive outlook."
Foles finished 13-of-17 passing for 127 yards, but also tossed two interceptions, took three sacks and tripped in the end zone for a safety. Heavily under siege most of his 32 snaps, and without his top three receivers and top two running backs, not all of the offensive woes can be put on Foles.
"First of all, I'm disappointed in the offense," coach Doug Pederson said after the game. "I don't want to single out one player, so don't put this all on Nick (Foles). I'm disappointed in the offense. It's obviously not what you want in the third preseason week. Listen, it's one of those things where we're still keeping things very vanilla and we still want to evaluate and make sure we have the right guys in the right spots. Now, we've obviously got one more preseason game, and then we turn our attention to Atlanta in week one."
While some of Foles' struggles can be blamed on the line, missing teammates, or vanilla scheme, the veteran's decisions were reminiscent of his 2015 struggles with the Rams. On his first INT, Foles didn't hold the safety and his pass fluttered like a drunk, wounded duck. On the second pick, he had no business trying to fit the ball in a tiny window to Zach Ertz, who was surrounded by three defenders.
"I don't think you can just snap your fingers. That's where we'll get back to work," said of getting the magic back if he needs to start Week 1. "We have a lot of work to do. It's not going to be easy, but that's why we are here. That's why we're a part of this team and in the NFL -- we know that we have to be critical of ourselves and get back to work. Get back to the basics and play our kind of ball. That's moving the ball around, running the ball, throwing deep, throwing short, screens -- executions. We weren't clean on executions tonight and haven't been as clean on executions throughout the preseason. All the guys in the locker room, we are going to get back to work like we always do and continue this bond we have."
This is the part of the story where we point out that it's just the preseason and overacting to this performance would be foolish. It's a quarter in a bowl, not a roll of Benjamins.
"He finished the season pretty well last year," Pederson said of Foles. "We know who he is and what we need to do to get him ready to go, and again, we're still pretty vanilla offensively. We haven't done any of our RPO game. Those are all things that are part of his strengths, too, so we've got to make sure that when we put game plans together moving forward, that we're utilizing his strengths too."
After his newfound peace, Foles doesn't sound like a man who will let poor preseason performances affect his mood.
"When you play this game, you're going to be analyzed," he said. "Everyone is going to analyze your every move. Everyone is going to analyze and look for perfect. We're not perfect people, I'm not a perfect player. I've not had a perfect game and I never will. That's just how it's turned out. That's where I can lean on those experiences and continue to improve, not be too hard on myself, while being hard on myself. If you're too hard on yourself all the time, you're going to crumble. I'm excited to get back to work with the guys in this locker room. I'm optimistic about it. There was a lot of learning tonight. I was learning, I built a database of information that I can pull from, and it only happened in a half."