Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nick Foles: Day 1, Year 2

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA -- Seeing is believing or so the idiom tells us.

The exception who proves that rule is evidently Nick Foles.

Peyton Manning earned his record fifth MVP award in 2013 after perhaps the best statistical season in NFL history, breaking multiple NFL passing records, most notably the single-season marks for touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477), while piloting an offense which led the NFL in scoring (37.9 points
per game) and totaled the most points (606) in league lore.

Manning, however, didn't lead the league in passer rating. That honor belonged to the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who put together the third-best mark in history, 119.2, four-plus points better than Manning's 115.1.

Foles threw a gaudy 27 touchdowns of his own (29 if you add the playoffs) versus just two interceptions in his second NFL season. He tied an NFL record with seven scoring tosses against Oakland in November of last year and snared an MVP award of his own, the 2014 Pro Bowl accolade.

"Those numbers from last year won't do anything for me this year," Foles said Saturday after the team's first practice of training camp. "They do absolutely nothing.

"I had a great coach once tell me that one play won't affect the next play, good or bad. And that's the same thing for one season: you can't let one season affect you, good or bad. The next year, you start off clean. Everybody is starting off fresh. Everybody is 0-0 and everybody has got high expectations. That's just the way I think. If you play in a new year, it's a new year."

A new year in which Foles remains on the outside, looking in at all those elite lists.

So, why are so many taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the University of Arizona product?

Some point to the pedigree. Foles was no top-10 can't miss prospect. He was a third-round selection in the 2012 draft, a 6-foot-6 guy  with prototypical size but under whelming arm strength and below average foot speed.

Of course many consider Joe Montana to be the best quarterback who ever lived and he was also a third-round pick, as was last season's Super Bowl-winning signal caller, Russell Wilson so you can scratch all that.

Others point to Eagles coach Chip Kelly and his history in college at Oregon where it seemed like the innovative offensive mind was all about having a movement-based signal caller, not a statuesque, pocket thrower with a mediocre fastball.

Part of that narrative was fueled by Kelly's own hesitation to believe what was going on with Foles in 2013. Remember Kelly picked Michael Vick to be his QB until the now familiar injury and consistency problems with him left a crack open in the door for Foles, who promptly kicked it in with his play on
the field.

Kelly signaled his acceptance of Foles in the 2014 draft when he had the opportunity to select Johnny Manziel, who Kelly recruited heavily at Oregon, and turned his nose up at the former Heisman Trophy winner.

"He's still young," Kelly said when talking about Foles on Saturday.  "He had an outstanding season last year that everybody was excited about. But he knows as an individual he can still get better."

Getting significantly better on and off the field is important to some like Pulizer-Prize winning authors who leave the lights on Friday night.

Buzz Bissinger took things off the rails by claiming Foles is too "chickens#$%" to be star in the NFL.

Bissinger took aim at Foles in Philadelphia Magazine, lambasting him for being the anti- Manziel, avoiding the limelight and any kind of self-promotion at all costs in favor of spending time with his family.

That, along with Foles' privileged background and the fact the Texas native refused to talk to Bissinger for the piece left the writer questioning the manhood of a 245-pound man whose job description includes getting hit by Jason Pierre-Paul and Brian Orakpo.

"You try to make it all about me and you lose track of what it's really about," Foles said when asked about Buzz's bizarre take, "and that's the Philadelphia Eagles and this city."

Foles is a gym rat, who doesn't drink and turned down at least two rather high-profile sponsorship opportunities in the offseason, preferring instead to focus on his job and his new wife.

When asked what his greatest love besides football was in the Eagles' training camp media guide Foles responded with "Family and Faith." When asked about his pregame ritual, the signal caller responded "Reading the Bible."

To professional cynics like Bissinger and yours truly for that matter, that kind of thing doesn't often play that well but Buzz and I will part paths there because he jumps to the inane conclusion that Foles can't succeed
because he's a teetotaling fan of some pretty successful fiction who wants to stay home at night.

"I don't agree with it," Foles sad of Bissinger's conclusion. "A quarterback and a leader - it's not necessarily what you do in the limelight. Handling yourself in the appropriate manner is very important for the organization for yourself and your teammates. I've always believed that you need to be who you

And who Foles is happens to be a guy who thinks football first until it's time to go home to the wife.

Ask the Cleveland Browns if they would rather have that or the overgrown 14-year-old who is more concerned with taking selfies of himself with Justin Bieber and Playboy models instead of learning Kyle Shanahan's playbook.

"If you're a guy who loves to go out and be at everything, and you can be a great player as well, that's awesome. That's naturally what you want to do," Foles said. "That's out of my norm. I've always been sort of a laid-back, Texas boy. I love being with my family. That's what I stick to. I love football. I love getting better."
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