The NFL is never short on feel-good stories. This year, one of the best examples of this is in Nick Foles, the Philadelphia Eagles’ backup quarterback.
It wasn’t long ago that Foles was the toast of The City of Brotherly Love. In 2013, Foles started 13 games for Philly and had one of the best historical seasons by an NFL quarterback. He threw 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions, while leading the Eagles to a 10-6 record and a postseason berth.
However, from 2014-2017, Foles has been with two other teams and is currently on his second stint with Philadelphia. Second-year sensation, Carson Wentz, went down with an injury towards the end of this year, forcing Foles into action for the final three regular season games and three other postseason contests.
What has ensued is a 5-1 record and Foles helping the Eagles to get to Super Bowl LII against the vaunted Patriots. And one behind-the-scenes coach couldn’t be more excited for the six-year signal-caller.
“He’s not bothered at all by the big game. He’s played well in big games,” said Cincinnati offensive coordinator Bill Lazor via Bengals.com. “I think it’s fair to say he’s got an excellent demeanor. He’s a pretty even-keeled guy. He even played well in the play-off game we played that year. He threw a touchdown late to put us ahead.”
“I haven’t really been able to watch this year to see what’s happened,” Lazor continued. “I’m not close enough to it. I’ve been busy trying to get this quarterback and this offense ready. It’s a different offense. It’s a different quarterback. I’ve got friends on both sides in this game and I’m pulling for everyone I know. Nick is one of those guys.”
For those who are unaware, Lazor was the Eagles’ quarterback coach in 2013 under then-head coach, Chip Kelly. In that amazing 2013 season, Lazor gained a reputation as an offensive genius, capable of formulating a system around quarterbacks with some limitations.
After Foles’ breakout year, Lazor went on the become the offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. It’s no coincidence that Foles struggled with his performance in 2014 (as well as injuries), and was traded to the Rams in the 2015 offseason. That began his bouncing around the league over the past three years.
Though Andy Dalton has had a couple of franchise record-setting years with the Bengals, the hope is that Lazor can tap No. 14’s talents in the same way he did with Foles back in 2013. Regardless, Lazor still has a soft spot for his former quarterback of a few years ago and the former Arizona Wildcat is close with his former coach.
“I still keep in touch. He pays attention to detail and each and every day works hard,” Foles said to the massive grouping of media members in Minnesota. “Any coach that has the attention to detail and wants to give the information to their players is going to be a great coach. Working on fundamentals and he does all that.”
The Bengals don’t employ the same fast-paced offense that Kelly and Lazor helped to run in Philadelphia, but they are hoping that Lazor’s return as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator will breed continuity and will bring about similar results from Dalton this year. Foles reminded everyone of Lazor’s coaching prowess and how he got the most out of him and the Eagles’ offense in 2013.
“(Lazor) studied the game and he made sure we had all the information we could so we could play the fastest we can play,” Foles said. “He takes a lot of pride in his work and I enjoyed playing for him.”
While much of the NFL world outside of the east coast is rooting for Philadelphia, one particular coach in the midwest is pulling for the Eagles for a different reason. Maybe, just maybe, Foles will show some things on Super Bowl Sunday reminiscent of his days under Lazor’s tutelage. That would be just fine for the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.