PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles has too much respect for Carson Wentz to call himself the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles.
His temporary gig could turn the backup into a Philly legend.
If Foles leads the Eagles (12-2) to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, he’ll become a folk hero who’ll go back to the sideline once Wentz returns from a torn ACL next season.
“This is Carson’s team,” Foles said. “I love that guy. I work with him every day and I’m going to give him that respect because he is the franchise quarterback. My job right now as the starting quarterback is to lead these guys on the field, and I’m going to do that. I’ve been here, I’ve done that. I know what it entails, I know the responsibility. But this is Carson Wentz’s team, and I respect him too much to make that statement. It doesn’t change my mentality. My mentality is when I step on that field, let’s roll. I don’t need to be named the starting quarterback.”
With Foles under center, the offense kept rolling in a 34-29 win at the New York Giants. He tossed four touchdown passes to four different receivers and didn’t commit any turnovers in his first start since last year with Kansas City.
“It’s a tough situation replacing arguably the MVP of the NFL,” center Jason Kelce said. “He has big shoes to fill. He did a great job. He executed the offense, was calm, cool, collected.”
Protecting the ball is a priority for Foles, who threw 29 TD passes — two in the playoffs — and only two interceptions in 2013 when he led the Eagles to an NFC East title and was named offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl.
“Nick is OK throwing the ball away,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Under duress, he’s going to throw it out of bounds, or skip it somewhere, and live to play another down. That’s kind of built into him. He does a nice job that way.”
Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich insisted after Wentz went down that the offense wouldn’t change with Foles at quarterback. One game in, they weren’t kidding.
“It’s part of our DNA and part of who we are,” Reich said. “We’re aggressive. We think a lot about who we are and what we want to be. We want to take shots. We want to be aggressive in our playcalling. To show that we could lose our ‘star player’ and franchise quarterback, and for Nick to step in and do the job he did, was a good sign for everybody. I don’t care how great you are. The team thing can never be lost from this thing. I think that’s what we’ve been talking about all year is how special the chemistry is.”
Wentz is back at the practice facility rehabbing his left knee following surgery. He’s popped into quarterback meetings and is willing to help Foles any way he can. Foles welcomes the support.
“He’s the leader of this team, he’s the quarterback of this franchise, he’s a huge presence and he’s a huge reason we’re in this position,” Foles said.
The Eagles can secure the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win over Oakland (6-8) on Monday night or if Minnesota (11-3) loses at Green Bay (7-7) on Saturday night.
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