What a difference a year makes.
This time last season, Nick Foles was just a second year quarterback who was competing for a starting job with veteran signal caller Michael Vick. Not only did Vick has the upper hand in terms of experience, but he was also more respected as a leader by his teammates in the locker room. This wasn't a slight to Foles. It's just that Vick had been with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2009 and had a more extensive NFL reputation.
But with Vick's exit to the New York Jets, coinciding with the emergence of Foles as a top starting quarterback last season, that leadership role has opened up. Now in his third season, it's up to Foles to step up and take charge of his team. So far, so good, according to Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
I just think Nick is more comfortable with the situation and obviously being in his second year you would anticipate that but I think now, he's not wondering what's next. He knows what's expected during the off‑season program during phase one, during phase two, when you get into the OTAs and when you get into mini‑camps; so he can help the younger players.
That's one thing Nick is really good at is taking the young guys. Right now he's been taking the young guys under his wing and showing them, this is how we do this, this is how we approach this. He's done the same thing with Mark, this is how we want it to look, this is the vision we want to have for what this thing is supposed to look like, and he can articulate that really well. And what he did last year from a performance standpoint, people are going to listen to him.
The impact Foles has had on some of the younger players is already apparent. Take rookie receiver Jordan Matthews, for example.
It's been great. I'm extremely blessed to be in a position where I get to play for a guy like that. I mean he's a leader. Like I said before. "Leader" is definitely the one word I would use to describe him but his character, it's second to none. Just a great guy and I'm glad he's leading this team.
Foles himself spoke on the team chemistry building with him in charge. Foles has stressed that being a leader isn't just about what's said, but with leading by example in actions taken.
"I think that the more we play together, the more we build chemistry. I’ve played with these guys a lot last season, so it’s nothing really new to me. We’re definitely growing in our offense and growing with our chemistry. We’ve kept a lot of guys here (from last season), we lost a couple guys, but we have a good group. So, yes, the more reps I get with these guys throughout our careers, hopefully the better – you want to get better, that’s the goal."
As always, these quips make for great quotes in the offseason but don't mean much until the on-field performance during the season justifies it. Despite a great year in 2013, Foles still has a lot to prove in 2014 in order to earn a contract extension after the season. It's not just about the team spending money on a key player, either. For the Eagles, it's committing to a player at the most important position both on and off the field.
All signs indicate that Foles has the support of the locker room so far. If he continues to perform well, it's hard to see why that would change.