Nick Foles' learning curve is over.
Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was willing to give the rookie quarterback a few games to get used to being a starter in the NFL. Now he expects Foles to play better, starting with Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.
"Nick and I have talked about it," Mornhinweg said. "All of the progressing is over. He is no longer a rookie. That's done. He's done some really good things. Now we expect him to play at a high level consistently. That's his challenge now."
Foles, a third-round draft pick, has made progress. He's coming off his best game, when he threw for 251 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 38-33 loss at Dallas this past Sunday.
His most noteworthy play, however, was the incompletion he threw to start the game. Just as Foles dropped back to pass, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware burst past tight end Brent Celek and barreled into Foles. Instead of suffering a turnover and/or a sack, Foles managed to toss the football toward the sideline as he was heading to the ground.
"That was totally my fault," Celek said. "Allowing Ware to get by me was the worst feeling in the world. All I could do was start screaming 'Throw the ball, throw the ball!' And thank God Nick did."
Foles hasn't been too successful throwing the ball since replacing Michael Vick last month. In his three starts, he completed 59-of-101 passes (58 percent) for 580 yards with one TD pass and two interceptions.
He's got a great opportunity to put up more impressive numbers Sunday. The Buccaneers have the league's best run defense but are ranked last against the pass, giving up an average of 309.4 yards per game.
"We've got to run our offense," Foles said Friday in quotes provided by the team. "You can look at statistics all you want, but the big thing is for any offense to just go out there and execute plays, whether it's running or throwing. We'll have to do both throughout the game successfully to put points on the board and give us a chance to win."
Foles will direct an offense that has undergone several changes in the last month or so.
Both Vick and running back LeSean McCoy are sidelined while trying to recover from concussions. Foles and rookie Bryce Brown are now the starters. Wide receiver Riley Cooper will make his second straight start in place of DeSean Jackson, who was placed on injured reserve with broken ribs. The offensive line has three starters - center Dallas Reynolds, guard Jake Scott, tackle Dennis Kelly - who were either on the bench or unemployed (Scott) at the beginning of the season.
Foles has been keeping them together with a poise that belies his youth (23) and lack of experience.
"The biggest thing that has impressed me about Nick is his calmness," Celek said. "No matter what happens, he never panics. It's going to be fun to see what he can do over these last four games."
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