Nick Foles has completed 21 of 25 passes this preseason and led the Eagles on a game-winning, 99-yard touchdown drive Saturday night. (AP)
JACKSONVILLE – He’s played three games and thrown four incomplete passes.
Nick Foles didn’t win the Eagles’ quarterback competition, but he’s certainly playing at a very high level right now.
On Saturday night, four days after learning that Michael Vick would be the Eagles’ opening-day quarterback, Foles completed 10 of 11 passes for 112 yards and engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to give the Eagles a 31-24 win over the Jaguars in a preseason game at Everbank Field (see Instant Replay).
The Jags led 24-16 when Foles entered the game. Foles has now completed 21 of 25 passes this preseason for a ridiculous 84 percent completion percentage.
“I feel good,” Foles said at his locker. “I feel really comfortable when I’m out there, just keeping the tempo up and executing the plays. I feel really comfortable.”
He looks comfortable. Foles, who started six late-season games last year, has completed at least 75 percent of his passes in all three preseason games.
He was 5-for-6 against the Patriots, 6-for-8 against the Panthers and 10-for-11 against the Jaguars.
Other than a fumble against the Patriots and an ungainly interception against Carolina when he tried to chuck the ball out of the end zone, Foles has been almost perfect.
It hasn’t been enough to win the starting job, but he said his approach hasn’t changed a bit.
He’s still competing, still pushing himself constantly.
“I know who I am,” he said. “I know who I am as a person off the field and I know who I am on the field, and I’m going to keep working at that. To be good at both.
“I want to be the best on and off the field, and I think everybody wants that, and it’s a battle every day to work toward that, but I’m going to do it.”
Unlike the first two preseason games, when Foles played with the first offense, he was relegated to the second half on Saturday night.
He entered the game for the final play of the third quarter and was on the field for just three series, but two of them went for touchdowns.
The first was a 50-yarder that he started with a 29-yard strike to Russell Shepard, the second – starting with seven minutes left in the game – went 99 yards, and he was perfect on it.
“That’s what I expect out of Nick,” coach Chip Kelly said. “I think he’s an outstanding quarterback, and I said that when we made the decision with Mike. I feel like our two quarterbacks are NFL-quality quarterbacks. We expected him to do that. That’s the type of player that he is.”
Not including kneeldowns, Foles has quarterbacked seven drives and produced four touchdowns.
None were more impressive than the 99-yard drive Saturday night.
“My mindset was 99 yards, first play, let’s get off the goal line and get this thing going,” he said. “The guys in the huddle were great. I thought the front five did a great job, they really gave me some time to throw.”
Foles was behind center for the first play of the drive and then took shotgun snaps out of the no-huddle on every other play except the last one. He was 6-for-6 for 71 yards on the game-winning drive, capped by Chris Polk’s four-yard touchdown run.
“We did a lot more quick passes and really opened up the run game,” Foles said. “It was definitely a group effort to get down the field, and I thought the guys did a great job.”
Instead of throwing to DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Brent Celek, Foles was out there with Matthew Tucker, Emil Igwenagu and Damaris Johnson.
But Bryce Brown was big on the game-winning drive, with four carries for 35 yards. Foles’ biggest throw on the possession was a short pass to Tucker on a 3rd-and-2 that Tucker turned into an 18-yard gain.
“I feel comfortable throwing to any receiver on this team,” Foles said. “All these guys work hard, we throw to them, routes on air, team situations, so I’ve developed a relationship with each of them, so when we’re out there I have full confidence of all of them, and they did a great job catching the ball and making plays up the field.”
Three games in, Foles is 21-for-25 for 208 yards with no touchdown passes, one TD run and the one interception last week.
Vick is 28-for-38 for 383 yards with two TDs and two interceptions to go with 73 rushing yards on nine carries.
Foles was asked if it was tough to play Saturday night after being told he had lost the QB battle
“Not tough at all,” he said. “I came in here, I was excited to play, we’re fortunate to play this game, and I’m always excited to go out there to play.
“My mentality always stays the same and I’ll continue to work to be a better player.”