Foles set tone with ‘stay in the moment’ mantra
NEW ORLEANS >> In a lot of ways, the Eagles learned a lot more about themselves this season than they did during the Super Bowl run.
It’s just going to be a while before they get past the obligatory rhetoric you roll with when you lose, as they did Sunday in the NFC divisional round to the New Orleans Saints.
What they’re most proud of, to sum up, is not giving up, fighting to the end and everyone’s favorite these days, staying in the moment.
That classic refrain is everywhere in the locker room thanks to Nick Foles, the leader of the stay-inthe-moment movement. Foles and his mantra are revered by teammates for results like that four-game win streak that carried them all the way to the NFC divisional playoffs.
It wasn’t another Super Bowl title, but it was their moment.
When Alshon Jeffery was asked if he thought he’d played his last game with Foles, he couldn’t help but smile at the way his answer sounded.
“I’m just enjoying the moment right now,” Jeffrey said. “I mean, we’ll see where the future leads.”
Cue that comedian, Yakoff Smirnoff, and what a moment!
For Foles, the future is going to be a starting job somewhere despite a lousy last game statistically. The interceptions he threw are easily explainable. Great play by Marshon Lattimore on the first throw and Jeffery tipped the other one, also to Lattimore.
The bottom line is Foles had the Eagles at the 27yard line of the Saints with 2:01 to go when Jeffery didn’t hang on. Not Foles’ fault. But to tell you the kind of standup guy Foles is, the reigning Super Bowl MVP urged Jeffery to forget what he basically knew was his last pass as the starting quarterback of the Eagles.
“He said, man, he loved playing with me, he loved throwing me the ball, making plays,” Jeffery said. “He said we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. We wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl if it wasn’t for me.”
If you think Tom Brady would do that, try getting him to shake hands after you beat him. GOAT whiner.
On the schedule
Is Foles the quarterback you want to pay $20 million-plus annually? The Eagles are mulling over options to do a franchise tag-and-trade that benefits them and Foles. That deal is going to make you ooh and ahhh more than the records Foles established each week he played. Until Sunday, that is. Foles played like Pat Mahomes in the first quarter as he guided the Eagles to a 14-0 lead.
It wasn’t just Foles although he was one of the catalysts.
The Eagles were in control, literally from the opening coin toss won by Brandon Graham with his call of tails.
Moments after the Eagles deferred, the Saints lined up for the first play of the game after a big return by Alvin Kamara.
Seconds later, Cre’Von LeBlanc, feeling at home in this domed suburb of the French Quarter, intercepted Drew Brees’ first pass, a deep ball intended for Ted Ginn, who hadn’t played in forever. Neither had Brees, if you include the bye week and his shutdown in the regular season finale. Yeah, it was another case of Saints head coach Sean Payton trying to show the football world how smart he is.
Foles completed all six pass attempts, including a postcard perfect 37-yarder to Jordan Matthews to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles got a threeand-out from Brees, then marched 75 yards for another score, Foles reaching the ball over the goal line on a quick sneak. The dome crowd didn’t have time to crank up the volume.
All told, the Eagles rolled up 151 yards and two TDs on 17 plays in their first two series.
But on the next three possessions, the Eagles ran a dozen plays worth just 49 yards and an interception.
The rhythm was disrupted in part by an amazing series of injuries starting with Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks, who, in the silent snap format, also signals the quarterback as to when the ball is hiked. He was carted off with what players said was an ankle injury. The NFL Network called it serious. Stefen Wisniewski replaced him.
Then Fletcher Cox hurt a foot, Chris Long his back, Rasul Douglas an ankle and Michael Bennett a leg. All returned to action.
The Eagles just couldn’t get back in a groove offensively. They went threeand-out in the second half.
And there was Foles, trying to keep the Eagles playing another day.
If this was Foles’ last game, he didn’t have the chance to tell all the guys in the huddle that he loved them, as per the moments before lining the guys up in the victory formation to close out Super Bowl LII.
Last game with the teams questions are awkward. Anticipated yet awkward.
“You know, I’m not really going to worry about it right now,” Foles said. “I think I’m just going to do what I can to enjoy this flight back home with my teammates, and we’ll see what happens. I do know that we went out there and gave it everything we had tonight, and that’s where everyone has to keep their heads held high because that’s what it’s about.”
Foles didn’t mention this but it’s also about doing what’s best for him and his family. He’s earned his opportunity to start. And he wants it.
“Yeah, I mean, we’ll see what happens in the future,” Foles said. “Once again, I’m not going to speculate on that. But yeah, I love to lead a team. I love being in the huddle, being a part of a locker room, doing that. That’s why I play the game.”
That’s why his teammates played the way they did.
To sum it up, they didn’t give up, fought to the end and above all, stayed in the moment with Foles.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, left, and Eagles QB Nick Foles share a moment after the Saints rallied for a 20-14 victory over the Birds in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday.