Let’s say the two most notable negative streaks in Arizona football history are this:
The Wildcats have never advanced to the Rose Bowl since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, and they haven’t produced a quarterback who has thrown a pass in an NFL game since 1973.
One of those mortifying droughts should soon be coming to an end.
Rookie quarterback Nick Foles took another step forward in his development Monday night in the Philadelphia Eagles’ second preseason game, stepping in early for an injured Michael Vick and completing 18 of 28 passes for 217 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
“This will be great film to learn from,” Foles said in a locker room interview posted on PhiladephiaEagles.com.
“There are a lot of things I can do better.”
With Vick set to undergo more tests on his ribs (X-rays were negative) and presumptive backup Mike Kafka probably out through the preseason with a fractured hand, Foles is set to start, in a quick turnaround, Friday night at Cleveland. (Foles will have to keep an eye out for his former UA teammate, cornerback Trevin Wade.)
Coach Andy Reid was asked in his postgame press conference if he had ever had a rookie quarterback play as well as Foles has in two preseason games.
“I don’t think we have,” Reid said after the 24-17 win over New England.
It’s just the preseason, of course. Tread lightly with expectations. It isn’t quite real football just yet. The Patriots were using backups.
But Foles, who was 6 of 10 for 144 yards and two long touchdowns in his preseason debut, is making a strong case for the No. 2 spot in Philadelphia behind the always-aching Vick. The third-round draft choice will be gulping down more valuable experience this week as he gets to work with the first-team offense.
“He was very poised,” Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson said in an ESPN interview.
“He’s got big frame, a big body and a big arm that comes with it. He knows the offense. A lot of rookies come in and they struggle with the offense and all the formations and things like that. But he’s doing a great job with that.”
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who worked with Foles this spring as part of his Gruden’s QB Camp series for the network, heaped praise on the quarterback all game. At one point, Gruden said he was very impressed with the “volume of offense” Foles was able to handle.
Foles, whose lack of mobility was a persistent criticism, even scrambled for 24 yards late in the first half, stepping inside a Patriots’ blitz before darting toward the sideline. Gruden complimented Foles’ “functional mobility.”
On the next play, Foles, throwing for the end zone, didn’t spot the safety help and underthrew the pass, to boot. Nate Ebner stepped in for the interception.
Still, the reviews were positive and encouraging. Foles was asked if he is doing some things that are surprising even him.
“No. Just really staying true to who I am,” he said.
“I’m just staying calm and playing ball, playing with confidence. As a quarterback you have to play with confidence, because the guys around you look to you in times of crisis.”
— Brooks Reed (@Brooksreed58) August 21, 2012