We know Nick Foles will start for the Eagles on Thursday night against the Falcons.
We just don’t know which one.
In his wacky, unbelievable, hard-to-figure-out seven-year career, that’s always been the big question with Foles. He can show up and put a team on his back in the Super Bowl and win a shootout against the best quarterback of all time. Or he can make mistake after mistake and have an absolute clunker of a game.
With Foles, it always seems like it’s all or nothing.
On Tuesday, he was asked about when during a course of a game he knows which version of himself has shown up.
Does it happen before the game? During it? Does he ever know?
“I think everyone tries to figure out sports. Sports, you never know,” Foles said. “You go out there and play, you give everything you have. I think there’s plenty of games where there are middle ground that I’ve played.
“It’s just that now my middle ground is if I throw one touchdown, no interceptions, it’s a bad game. I’ve set that bar high. I know that because I expect that for myself. What is a middle ground game? We’re going to be analyzed as players. I know as a player, you can be hard on yourself, but you have to learn from your mistakes.”
Well, let’s take a closer look at Foles’ career. He’s played in 51 NFL games in which he’s thrown a pass (including four in the playoffs). In those 51 games, he’s had a passer rating of 100 or higher in 22 of them, including the four playoffs games. But he’s also had a passer rating of lower than 80 in 17 of them.
Take a look:
So that establishes that there isn’t a huge middle ground with Foles, but it doesn’t let us know which version will show up on Thursday night.
Foles certainly didn’t do a lot to instill confidence in him during this preseason. He was picked off and strip-sacked and the only times he got into a rhythm, the offense coughed the ball up. He failed to put up any points with the first-team offense this summer. Not great.
Foles had an interesting take on that clunker of a preseason. He basically said it was good to go through those mistakes when the games didn’t count. Foles thinks he’s a better player after making those mistakes and then watching the film to correct them.
“When I look back at the preseason, I thought it was a successful one from that standpoint, with the emotions of the game,” he said.
OK, fine. But that still doesn’t mean we know which guy will show up on Thursday.
Such a big part of Foles’ game is rhythm. He endlessly says how important it is to get a “feel” for the game. According to him, the more he plays, the better he is. Perhaps that’s why we saw him stink it up late in the regular season last year before going on a tear in the postseason.
But what does that say about the start of this season? Does last year’s run carry over? It didn’t seem like it in the preseason. And up until this week of practice, he wasn’t even getting all the first-team reps because he was splitting them with Carson Wentz.
Foles compared it to his days as a basketball player.
“The thing about basketball, you have to get a rhythm, you have to feel the dribble, you have to feel your shot, you have to play the game,” Foles said. “If I go play pickup basketball right now, I’m not going to be very good because I haven’t played in a long time. But if I play for a couple weeks, I’ll be back to who I used to be. I’ll be able to shoot everywhere, I’ll probably be able to dunk again a little bit. It’s the same with football. That’s how I am as an athlete.”
We don’t really know if this week in practice — the Eagles had a really competitive 1s vs. 1s period on Sunday — will be enough to get Foles in a rhythm. Even if he did get him into a rhythm, we don’t know if practice rhythm carries over into games. And we’re not sure if he got all of those mistakes out of his system in the preseason.
We don’t know if Foles will be dunking or throwing up bricks on Thursday night at the Linc.
We’ll find out pretty quickly though.