LANDOVER, Md. — The gap between the rookie quarterbacks playing at FedEx Field Sunday was as wide as the Wildwood beaches before Hurricane Sandy came to town.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles’ first career start was a disaster. Meanwhile, Washington’s Robert Griffin III delivered a virtually perfect performance during the Redskins’ 31-6 victory.
Foles, a third-round pick out of the University of Arizona, threw interceptions in his first two series and struggled the entire game.
Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick from Baylor, completed all but one of his 15 passes, threw for four touchdowns, rushed for 84 yards and registered the highest possible quarterback efficiency rating of 158.3.
“Robert is a special guy,” Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said. “That’s a gift he has. He really ignites our fire. When he is doing his thing, he’s on fire and then it just rubs off on everyone else. I’m glad to a have a guy like that on our team.”
The Eagles don’t yet know if Foles can generate that same kind of support and enthusiasm.
So far, the results have not been encouraging. Since replacing injured Michael Vick (concussion) in the second quarter of last Sunday’s loss to Dallas, Foles has thrown three interceptions to one touchdown pass and also lost a fumble.
Against the Redskins, he completed 21-of-46 passes for 204 yards with no TDs, two interceptions and a 40.5 rating.
“Today was a rough game,” Foles said. “I didn’t play well at all. I guess you could say I never got into a rhythm. It comes down to execution and I made too many mistakes.”
Griffin also got a boost from his supporting cast while Foles received little support.
On two of Griffin’s touchdown passes, his receivers were basically uncovered. There wasn’t an Eagles defender within 15 yards of Redskins wide receiver Aldrick Robinson when he caught Griffin’s 49-yard TD pass. Moss’ 61-yarder was the result of him outfighting Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin and safety Kurt Coleman for the ball.
“Aldrick was wide open on his touchdown,” Griffin said. “It was just a matter of when the ball was going to come down since I threw it pretty high. With Santana’s, he may not be the biggest guy (5-foot-10), and I know people make fun of that, but he played big in that moment.
“(Baylor head coach Art) Briles always told me that there is a difference between playing fearless and playing stupid. You have to be able to tiptoe that line. If the pass to Santana would have been intercepted, it would have been stupid. Because it was a touchdown, it was fearless. You try to get guys the rock (football) and let them make plays.”
Foles’ teammates contributed to his struggles.
Tight end Brent Celek dropped two passes and had another one bounce off his hands for an interception on the first series. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught two passes for five yards. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was shut out.
“When you have a guy making his first start in the league, other guys have to elevate their game and I felt like as a team we didn’t do that for Nick,” Maclin said. “I’m pretty sure that there’s certain situations or certain decisions that he felt like he should have made differently, but that’s part of the game. That’s part of the growing pains. As far as everybody else, I don’t think we did our job to help that and bring him along.”
Maclin and the rest of the offense will likely get another opportunity to help Foles. Vick was not even close to being sufficiently recovered from his concussion to play against the Redskins and likely will also miss next Monday night’s game against Carolina.
As disappointed as he was in his own performance Sunday, Foles was anxious to put the defeat behind him and get ready to face the Panthers.
“If you want to evaluate me off of one game, and I don’t think you should, then I didn’t play well at all,” Foles said. “But I’m going to forget about it and get back to work. No matter how much I struggle, I’m going to get better. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s how I was raised. I’m going to continue to fight, I’m going to continue to learn and get better.
“I wish I could thrown 10 touchdowns every game, but that’s just not life. There’s always going to be curveballs and today was one of them. But I’ve always learned from them, I’ve always gotten better and a person and as a player. I’m going to do what I always do and that’s keep moving foward.”
Contact David Weinberg: