Nick Foles had his first press conference since news of Carson Wentz’s ACL injury was confirmed. Here’s a complete transcript, including why Foles believes the offense won’t change with him taking over as the Philadelphia Eagles’ new starting quarterback.
(For more on Foles, check out this excellent breakdown from Benjamin Solak.)
WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF YOU HAVING SPENT TIME WITH DOUG PEDERSON BOTH HERE AND IN KANSAS CITY?
The benefit is: we know each other. I didn’t have time with him in KC. He was my quarterback coach my rookie year, so I spent a lot of time with him as a rookie. He really helped me advance my game and knowledge of the game. Just working with someone one on one, you see so much of their mentality, their work ethic. So that was a big reason coming back here [to Philadelphia], obviously, playing for Coach Pederson, I’ve loved every moment of it. He’s a great head coach. So that chemistry is key. Even going into a game like that the other night, he knows my personality, he knows he can call whatever play he wants and I’ll be able to run it.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW THAT YOU KNOW THIS IS YOUR TEAM THE REST OF THE WAY HERE?
We just keep rolling. Obviously this has been a really tough year with injuries on our team. You got [Jason] Peters, [Darren] Sproles, [Chris] Maragos, [Jordan] Hicks, Carson [Wentz], [Caleb] Sturgis. I mean, I was just looking back, it’s been wild, but I think the big thing with this team the resiliency with guys stepping up and continuing to play because it’s about our team. We’ve overcome those. It’s because guys believe in one another. Carson is such a huge part of this organization and will be for a long time. He’s done so much for this team on the field and in the locker room. A big part of coming here was [being] here to support him. My job right now is to step in that huddle and keep this thing rolling. And that’s what I plan on doing.
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED FOR YOU NOW?
I mean, shoot, I’m not doing scout team. I’m running the team. I’m running the offense. I’m going out there and that’s really it. We prepare the same way. Carson, Nate [Sudfeld], and I do everything together. All the preparation. The only thing different is the reps. We’ve just go to keep it rolling. That’s it.
YOU WERE DEALING WITH ELBOW PAIN THIS SUMMER. HOW DOES IT FEEL NOW?
Honestly, it feels amazing. It’s been a non-issue, and I’m really just back to being myself. There hasn’t really been anything [different]. I do my normal recovery stuff, but every athlete does that, so I’m ready to throw every single pass and it’s exciting to have your arm full strength and not have issue with it. The training staff’s done an awesome job with it in the preseason to get me to the point where it’s been a non-issue.
THIS OFFENSE IS BASED IN SOME OF WHAT ANDY REID DID IN 2012, HOW MUCH HAS IT EVOLVED OVER THESE LAST FIVE YEARS?
Since 2012 it’s definitely evolved quite a bit. I think football in general in the NFL has evolved. A lot of it is the run-pass option. I know when Chip [Kelly] came into the league, a lot of the zone-read, run pass options … I mean, that’s stuff been around, but just the different ways of getting to it. The offense is definitely different. And then even when I was in Kansas City with Coach Reid, it had evolved from 2012, and then coming here, it’s always evolving, there’s always new ways to do things, and there’s a lot of creative minds in football, which coaches can think of new ways to do things.
YOU MENTIONED THE RUN-PASS OPTIONS (RPOs), DID YOU FIRST RUN THOSE WITH CHIP OR BEFORE THAT?
In college. The spread system, that’s where I had done it. With Chip, it was a little different. And even here, it’s a little different. It’s just the game. Coaches have different ways of doing it. But it’s become a huge part of the game nowadays.
WHAT HAVE YOUR CONVERSATION WITH CARSON BEEN LIKE AND HOW MUCH DO YOU ANTICIPATE HIM HELPING YOU?
Oh, he’ll be a huge help. Right now, as his teammate, someone who cares a lot about him, you hurt, but you’re there to support him, pray for him, and he was around today, just having conversations with him. Just how grateful him, Nate, and I have got to spend so much time together developing that relationship to where we know he’s going to come back stronger than ever. I know his mentality, him as a person, him as an athlete, this is just part of his journey. We’re all continuing to pray for him and he’s going to be instrumental every single week from here on out still with this team.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME YOU KNOW YOU’RE THE GUY AS LONG AS THE TEAM IS PLAYING. DOES THAT INCREASE YOUR COMFORT LEVEL?
I’m going to be who I am. I’m not going to let that affect — it’s easy to let those thoughts go in. But I’m really going to play football how I know to play football. I’m prepared. We have a great team that’s stepped up and made big plays. I mean you look at the game the other night, defense comes up big. Chris Long strips Jared [Goff] and then Rodney McLeod picks it up. Jake [Elliott] did a great job kicking field goals. It’s one of those things where I’ma go out there and play, play aggressive, play how I know how to play and how I’ve done throughout my career. And do what I can to do to help this team win this game.
HOW DIFFERENT DO YOU EXPECT THE OFFENSE TO LOOK WITH YOU IN THERE AS OPPOSED TO CARSON?
I don’t expect it to look different at all.
WHY IS THAT?
Because this is our offense. This is the Eagles’ offense. This is the one that’s the DNA of this team, and we’re going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things, so we just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving.
WHAT’S CARSON MESSAGE TO YOU NOW THAT YOU’RE TAKING OVER?
Basically, like I said, he’s just fully supportive. We’ve been together this whole year, preseason, OTAs, and everything. He’s going to be there every step of the way. I know he’s got my back. So that’ll never change and that goes both ways.
WHAT COMFORT LEVEL DO YOU HAVE MAKING AUDIBLES IN NO HUDDLE?
As the quarterback, you love it. You love to have a head coach who does stuff like that, and I think switching up the speed to the game is tough for a defense because that’s something they have to work on practice throughout the week and you can sort of get them on their heels. And to have a head coach who’s confident in the quarterback and confident in that, I mean, as a quarterback you want to go out there, and it’s fun to choose your own plays at times. You obviously trust the plays called but sometimes you have an option to choose and get a completion or, I try to not check out of runs, but to check runs, I like to throw it. But it’s great.
ARE THERE PLAYS IN THIS OFFENSE THAT YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE RUNNING AS OPPOSED TO CARSON?
No, I feel comfortable in this offense. I love this offense. We’re going to run this offense. So nothing’s going to change.
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THAT 2013 SEASON, WHAT ABOUT THAT SYSTEM DID YOU REALLY LIKE?
I mean, we just all played together that season. Football is a chemistry thing. The thing that’s overlooked so many times is chemistry. And the dynamics of the locker room and the team. And just playing together, executing, making plays after the catch. And obviously the defense playing well, special teams [too], the whole atmosphere. That’s such a big part of this. You just get into a rhythm. I think the key’s just getting into a rhythm. Getting completions. Stay inside the chains. And obviously putting points on the board. But it all goes down to rhythm and playing for one another. It’s actually just that simple, you just have to get to that point, but you just have to get there. But it starts in the locker room, it starts with that chemistry.
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FANS THAT BELIEVE THE EAGLES’ SUPER BOWL CHANCES RELIED UPON CARSON?
That’s just part of this game. That’s part of what people are going to say. I’m fully confident in this team. I’m confident in myself. What I’m focused on is today and going out there. We’re focused on this one game. That’s it. And that’s how you approach every week. You don’t look too far ahead. But I’m 100% confident in myself. I’ve been here before. I’ve played in the league. I’ve played for the Eagles before. Like I said before, there’s a reason I came back here. I love this city. I love this team. I love this organization. And I loved seeing Carson, from afar, I wanted to be his teammate and helping him. And now, this isn’t what a quarterback ever wants. You never want to see this [Wentz’s injury] happen. But my job is to go out there and lead this team and I’m fully confident in that.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE YOU TO BUILD CHEMISTRY WITH RECEIVERS YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THROWING TO SUCH AS ALSHON JEFFERY?
I mean, this week, we’ll go out to practice tomorrow, and we’ll do our practice. We’ll do what we do. We’ll do our work. I’ve watched them run their routes all year. I’ve been able, at different times in practice, to throw them routes. So you just sort of build that database. And it goes back to, I’m not always going to be able to get the reps Carson gets, but I’m always standing behind the play, I’m always watching film, I’m always watching his drops, I’m always doing the drops in the background. So you just go out there. The rhythm thing, it’s basically just talking to them [to see] what they like. How they feel, what we see [on film] this week. It’ll come really fast.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT STEPPING UP INTO THAT STARTING ROLE?
I think the biggest thing is, and it’s natural, you look too much at the big picture. For me, fortunately, I’ve been there, and the advice I basically gave myself is ‘focus on the moment.’ And the moment right now is this press conference. Earlier today, it was preparing for the Giants, and that’ll be continued on throughout the day. So it’s basically living in the moment. Tomorrow will take care of itself. That alleviates a lot of things because preparation is the key to winning. So we have to have a great week of preparation. That’s why we lean on each other. I’ll continue to stress that because this is a team sport. [The] quarterback is a big part of the team, Carson is a huge part of this team, but I also know there’s a great team here, and I’m going to step up because I’ve been here. I know how to do it, how to play this game. I’m going to count on all the guys around me, too.
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT AS A PLAYER AND PERSON SINCE YOU LAST PLAYED FOR THE EAGLES IN 2014?
I think with experience and age, you gain knowledge and wisdom. Obviously life changes. You just see the game a little more clearly. Even stepping into the game the other night, you’re in the fourth quarter, you’re on the road, this is a big game, and you really just go back to your training and you go back to your experiences in life. You know how to sort of live in that moment. To execute the plays. To help your team win. And since that moment in Houston where I fractured my collarbone, I’ve experienced a lot more experiences in the NFL than I had up to that point. A lot of them great, some of them not so great. But they all go together to create this moment in time. I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m excited to be a part of this organization, this team, these players, these coaches, these people. And I’m excited to have Carson there with me because I know he’s going to be there every step of the way, and that’s a big part of it. There’s not — it’s pretty cool that we have such a great quarterback room that you go through something like this and you’re going to continue to lean on it. Carson’s going to be there every step of the way. Nate’s going to be there every step of the way. And that’s a pretty sweet thing.
HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN BETTER IN THE POCKET, IN TERMS OF AWARENESS?
Yeah, honestly, it’s just feel. It’s repetition. It’s feel. It’s stepping up. It’s understanding where, hey, if you feel pressure, get rid of the ball out. Sometimes dirting a ball in situations is better than taking a sack. A lot of it’s feel, a lot of it’s drill work, Coach Flip [John DeFilippo] does a lot of great stuff with us drill work wise. With our footwork, movement in the pocket, movement on the run. Just working on that every single day helps a lot in the pocket.
WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN FROM NATE SUDFELD?
Nate’s a tremendous player. I’m excited about his future. Really smart. Works his butt off. He’s got all the tools to be a great player in this league. He’s been there. Like I said, I’m always going to include Carson and Nate. That’s how it’s been every single day going to work. That’s how it’s been. I’m going to lean on Nate during this process. We have a quarterback room where you can do that. So it’s really awesome. But he’s a tremendous player and I’m really excited about his future in this league.
HAVE YOU NOTICED THIS TEAM HAS A LITTLE MORE RESILIENCY THAN OTHER TEAMS YOU’VE BEEN ON?
I’ve been on some really good teams. I’m not going to say — in respect to them — this team has that in the sense of guys stepping up, and it’s the atmosphere that’s been created by the people that’ve been here, by the coaching staff, by the players, by the training staff, by the equipment [staff], it’s the atmosphere where when a guy goes down, the guys around them lift up that player that has to take up his place. And that’s huge because you go into a game, with … I just name an All-Star, Pro Bowl lineup of guys who’ve had to fill their spots and guys have done a great job. And the reason is there’s guys around to help them in that transition. So the team’s that I’ve been on that’ve been really good have had that. And this is definitely one of them.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON 2014 AND HOW THAT WENT FOR YOU?
Honestly, looking back, football’s not — 2013 was sort of just one of those surreal years. It’s just, we were rolling, and then 2014, the games were a little closer, we had to grind them out, there was a lot more character, within the first eight games, I think we had four where we had to come from behind by 10-plus points. But once again, we were able to, and we leaned on each other, and there was no give up. This team has no give up. And that is huge. To win in this league, you have to be able to play all four quarters. And you can never give up, and you have to play until the end. And you can never feel like you’re out of it. And that’s honestly the great thing about this team. There’s never going to be a give up. They’re going to play hard every single play, and that’s what you went.
YOU RAN THE BALL A LOT IN 2013 AND 2014. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH TAKING YARDS IF IT’S GIVEN?
Absolutely. We’re reading different defenders based on — there’s so many different RPOs now. It started out as something really simple. Now it’s just crazy what you can do. It’s really fun to do. But yeah, absolutely. It’s just playing smart. Sliding. That’s the big thing.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE MORE INPUT IN THIS OFFENSE THAN SYSTEMS IN THE PAST?
We have a plan. So it’s not like we’re just winging it. There’s definitely a plan going into games. We’re not just going into games saying ‘Hey, let’s figure something out.’ So yeah, absolutely. I think that meeting with Coach Pederson, I’m going to pick Carson’s brain as well, that’ll be big. Because we’ll go into the game with a plan in different situations so we’re not just creating on the run.
WHAT PERSPECTIVE DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE TAKING OVER FOR MICHAEL VICK IN 2013?
I think in 2013 when that all happened, I was a young player that had never been in that role. So, what comes with what, an example is this interview right here. There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of cameras. When you’re a young player and that’s your first time, like, you’re just trying to get the words out of your mouth. And right now, we were preparing, just talking about what — you always prepare before press conferences. Well now it’s just sort of, you come talk. And it’s the experience. And that’s huge in this league. Going into a game with more experience, you know the feeling, you know what to expect, you know ‘Hey, if I do something bad, hey, I’ve been there, I’ve overcome this,’ I’ve thrown touchdowns, or different looks, different plays. It all goes back to experience. And if you can sort of go back and just trust that and trust your preparation and trust your skill set, you’ll be alright.
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER EQUIPPED TO HANDLE THE OUTSIDE NOISE?
Yeah. And I don’t even think, going back to then, it was all new. It wasn’t all that bad. Y’alls questions are fairly easy most of time, but yeah, life changes. Experiences in life. Like you said it, having a child. That’s huge. I get to go home and I get to hug my daughter. I mean that’s the greatest thing in the world. Versus a couple years ago, we didn’t have a child. I don’t know. Just the wisdom, just going in, and playing … it almost makes everything more simple, and it clears your brain because you just go out there and play. You let it rip. I’ve always been like a gunslinger, just let it rip. So that’s what I’m just going to do. Play loose, count on the guys, lead this team, and there’s no other place I’d rather be. That’s why I came back here. It was a big reason my wife and I sat down and the opportunity come to be back here in this environment. Obviously, it was for a different role than when I [first] came here, but I’m ready to step up and help this team win.