Where Has Nick Foles Improved Since Last Game vs. Cowboys?

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Where Has Nick Foles Improved Since Last Game vs. Cowboys?
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The 2012 season certainly hasn't gone as the Philadelphia Eagles had planned, but even if the Eagles won't be sniffing the playoffs this season, the rash of injuries that has beset the team has at least given them a chance to take a look at some players who could represent the future of the franchise.

Among them is rookie quarterback Nick Foles, and much like in his NFL debut a few weeks ago on Sunday night, Foles squared off with the Dallas Cowboys.

The results of Sunday night's contest may have been the the same as the first time these teams met, but the quarterback who lined up under center in Week 13 was quite a bit different from the player who was pressed into action back in Week 10 when Michael Vick suffered a concussion.

Foles actually didn't play badly in that first game, completing 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown, but he also committed a pair of backbreaking turnovers, both of which were returned for touchdowns in a 38-23 loss.

After that came a disastrous start against the Washington Redskins in which Foles threw two interceptions, completed less than half his passes and the Eagles were blown out, but Foles is far from the first rookie quarterback to struggle in his first NFL start.

Since then, however, not only has Foles shown flashes of the rocket arm that inspired the Eagles to draft him in the first place, but the former Arizona standout has also shown signs that he's becoming more acclimated to the NFL game.

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Nick Foles completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown in Week 13.

The biggest area of improvement has been the one where it was most urgently needed. After turning the ball over four times in his first two starts, Foles has zero over his past two, and given that interceptions were something of an issue for him in Tucson (he threw 14 in 2011), it's absolutely a step in the right direction.

Foles has also shown quite a bit more poise, both in the pocket and when working through his progressions.

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Going back to his college days, Foles has always had a bit of a habit of developing "happy feet" under pressure, which leads to ill-advised throws off his back foot. But in the past couple of games, Foles appears much more willing to trust his pass protection (no small feat in Philadelphia) and step into his throws, which results in increased accuracy and zip on his passes.

That increased poise has extended into surveying the field as well. In Foles' first game against the Cowboys, he developed "tunnel vision" by locking on to Jeremy Maclin, but in the second meeting, Foles completed passes to seven different receivers and showed a willingness to take what was afforded to him, whether that's a downfield throw or a five-yard checkdown.

This isn't to say that there isn't still significant room for improvement where Foles in concerned. He still has a bad habit of staring down receivers (common among rookies), and his sixth fumble Sunday night demonstrated that he needs to improve his ball security.

With that said though, these are issues that members of the Eagles coaching staff (whomever they may be come next season) can address in the offseason, and if nothing else, Foles' extended audition has at least shown there's potential to work with.

And the way this season's gone, at least that's something.

 

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