The Eagles have had two weeks (technically, 13 days) to get quarterback Nick Foles ready for the team’s most important game of the year. And the Eagles are confident that Foles can get it done.
Primarily because they have no choice.
One source told PFT that “there is no leash” on Foles today, notwithstanding coach Doug Pederson’s recent failure to slam the door on the possibility that Foles could be replaced with Nate Sudfeld if the situation becomes sufficiently desperate.
As another source put it, the players and coaches have genuine confidence in Foles. The thinking is that, with the team’s offensive line and defense, superstar performances from the quarterback aren’t necessary to win games.
That said, there’s still a gap between Foles and MVP candidate Carson Wentz, who tore an ACL in December. And the Eagles will need to keep Foles’ limitations in mind.
As one source with knowledge of Foles’ past performances put it, he’ll need to have time against the Atlanta blitz. If he doesn’t see the blitz and/or doesn’t get protection from the blitzes, that will be a problem. Obviously, a solid effort from the running game will help, since it will set up play-action opportunities.
Another source who has studied Foles carefully pointed out that Foles generally lacks the ability to “throw receivers open.” Instead of putting the ball where a covered receiver is going to be, Foles typically waits for the receiver to be obviously open. And that necessarily limits his options when it’s time to throw, causing him to hold the ball longer and making him more susceptible to getting hit.
From Atlanta’s perspective, they’ll be ready for the best that Foles can do, whatever that may be. They recognize that the Eagles have had extra time to prepare Foles for this moment, and they realize that the Eagles have gone back to the past in order to find the plays that will ensure that the team’s future includes an appearance in the NFC title game.
However it goes for Foles, the think is that it will be fairly obvious early in the game as to whether it will or won’t be working for him.