Why You Should Believe in Nick Foles

There's a big difference between Weeks 16 and 17 in the NFL and the playoffs. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles knows that better than most.

Say what you want about the way Foles has performed in the Eagles' last two games, his confidence, his skill set, his team's Super Bowl chances as long as he's under center. Foles has played postseason football, and he played well.

Foles completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns in a first-round matchup against the Saints at the conclusion of the 2013 season. And though the Eagles ultimately lost that game on a walk-off field goal, Foles led his team across the goal line to take the lead on the offense's final possession.

At this point, it may be the only advantage Foles has left to cling to. But postseason experience - and the magical 27-2 run that led to it - is far from irrelevant.

Now Foles just needs to channel that experience.

"I've had time to reflect, think about me then, playing in that game, what that season was like, playing in the playoff game, the atmosphere, the visualization of it all," Foles said after practice Wednesday. "That's important. It's going to be here before we know it.

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"The key is to get in the zone, get into the rhythm of the offense - just play, because that's when everything slows down."

It seems like it's been all downhill for Foles since the '13 campaign. The following season was a down year, he got hurt, was later traded, eventually lost his starting job with the Rams and became a journeyman backup. Naturally, the sixth-year veteran has been under intense scrutiny since taking over for an injured Carson Wentz, too. Foles' inconsistent play has resulted in told-ya-sos from critics while creating a panic among many fans.

Some concern is warranted. Foles' career took the trajectory it has for a reason. He's a "high-variance quarterback," to borrow a phrase - capable of the highest highs and the lowest lows. We've seen both sides of Foles.

All of it goes out the window in the playoffs. The only thing that matters is how Foles plays on Jan. 13.

"Obviously, on Sunday and the week before, that's not how I want to play," Foles said. "But if anyone's ever played a sport, you can't just sit here and say, ‘Okay, that's what it is.' I've had games like that, and I've come back from it and I've played at a higher level."

For starters, two full weeks of intense practices should help.

Foles completed 46.9 percent of his passes for 4.1 yards per attempt with one touchdown and two interceptions in the last two games against the Raiders and Cowboys. Yet, it's almost unfair to evaluate those performances. The Eagles didn't prepare for either contest under a normal practice schedule, opting instead to rest players with a postseason bye clinched and the top seed all but assured.

That might've been beneficial for most of the locker room. Clearly, it was a detriment to Foles, who hasn't played regularly in any capacity since the middle of the 2015 season.

"Especially for me, being in the situation I'm in, stepping in," Foles said. "Getting more reps with the guys, stepping in the huddle, repping things over and over again, it's an awesome thing."

Not only did the Eagles get two additional practices in this week with the bye, but it's given Foles a chance to go back and take a closer look at that famed '13 season. Granted, that was under Chip Kelly, before the league had cracked the code to the coach's "innovative" attack. However, some of the same concepts still apply.

"This is a great week to go back and self-scout," Foles said. "For me, it's just going back in the past in different situations and what concepts I liked. We have a lot of that stuff. It's maybe seeing different ways we did it, different ways we got to it."

Foles admitted he saw something when he went back and self-scouted his past. Wisely, he declined to touch on what exactly - a sign of a cagey veteran with playoff experience.

"I'm going to keep that to myself because we have a game and I don't want to give out too much, to be honest," Foles said.

While Foles has lacked control at times off the field, the control with which he's carried himself off of it should provide some comfort.

That could apply to his teammates as well. Foles will be one of only a handful of Eagles players with prior postseason experience when their divisional round game kicks off next Saturday. If nothing else, he should be able to impart some knowledge about the differences between the regular season and the playoffs.

Perhaps more than anything else, Foles can teach a lesson or two on overcoming adversity.

"First thing you usually say is, ‘It's faster than the regular season,' just to put that out there," Foles said. "But it's also football, and you're not doing it alone.

"It will be fast, but you will get used to it, and we're going to have each other there to go through all the adversity because I have never played in a football game where that has not been adversity."

Foles already faced a ton of it during his NFL career, even in just the last month. And while his performance of late has justifiably led many to question his ability to lead the Eagles, there's also a sense of calm that comes with the territory of a quarterback who's been down this road before.

When the Eagles kick off their first playoff appearance since '13, it's going to be with somebody at the helm who's guided a team through it before, and did it well. That's of much greater value than how Foles looked in Weeks 16 or 17, or the confidence level of anybody who's not in that huddle.

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