Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson watching old video of quarterback Nick Foles from 2013
It was less about advance scouting — the Eagles will play either the Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round depending on how wild-card weekend shakes out — and more about examining how the offense operated under Nick Foles.
After a couple down performances, Pederson and the coaching staff are using the bye week to look at old Foles film in order to properly tailor the current system to fit his strengths. Pederson has already checked out tape from Foles’ time in Philly under Andy Reid, his days with the St. Louis Rams and, of course, his two years under Chip Kelly.
That 2013 season was Foles’ finest, as he threw a remarkable 27 touchdowns to two interceptions while the rest of the league adjusted to Kelly’s rapid-fire attack.
Pederson’s offense doesn’t live in up-tempo like Kelly’s did, but they do use the hurry-up a good bit, and may utilize it more in the postseason to benefit Foles.
“I think he does [thrive in it], I think any quarterback does,” Pederson said. “Carson [Wentz] has obviously thrived in it when we go up-tempo. Something we’ll look at and spend some time this week putting our guys in that position.”
There is a fine line to walk when it comes to that style of play. As the Kelly years revealed, it can exhaust your defense — a concern given that the D is currently the Eagles’ biggest strength. But there’s no denying that this Foles-led offense needs a jolt. The Eagles are just 1-of-17 on third down over their past five quarters and have managed 19 points total over that time. Foles is 23-of-49 (47 percent) for 202 yards with a TD and two interceptions since his four-touchdown outing against the New York Giants in Week 15.
Pederson is looking at his QB’s history in order to make sure he’s being put in the best possible position.
“The quick-throw was there, a little play-action pass, the shotgun stuff,” said Pederson of Foles’ previous work. “Those are all things that are in our system, and we might just have to dust a few more off and get that ready to go. And that’s kind of what this week is for, to get some of those ideas and thoughts on paper and execute them this week in practice.”
Pederson did not rule out the possibility of going to backup Nate Sudfeld if the Eagles were in a desperation situation during the playoffs, but added Sudfeld would be receiving zero first-team reps in practice while making it clear that Foles is his guy.
Foles’ lone playoff experience came in that Saints game. He went 23-of-33 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Foles led the team back from a 20-7 deficit and put the Eagles ahead on a TD pass to tight end Zach Ertz late in the fourth quarter, only to see Drew Brees & Co. march down the field for a game-winning field goal as time expired.
“I saw a guy that stood in there, took some shots in that game, delivered some great throws in that game, and led the team back to at least the go-ahead touchdown late in the game,” said Pederson, “and that’s the type of quarterback that we have.”