PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles and Doug Pederson are immortalized in a giant sculpture to be unveiled soon in Headhouse Plaza at the Linc.
Regardless who dialed up the "Philly Special" play in the Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots – and it sure sounded like Foles – the video boards at Lincoln Financial Field will show it some more during the opening night ceremonies Thursday.
The clip will show Foles bark “Philly special” in the huddle, shift to the tight end position, break to the right after the snap, turn and catch the ball thrown by Trey Burton and raise the leather high for all to see.
In terms of pure adrenaline, that replay could vaporize the ovation for the championship banner to be unveiled before the Eagles oppose the Atlanta Falcons because, let's be honest, it’s so Philly.
“It will always be a special moment,” Foles said. “It’s one of the greatest moments in Philadelphia sports history for any sport. But for me in this position and our team, we’re so focused on the game that it will be a little bit different for us.”
Eagles players are just becoming aware of the Philly-Philly sculpture commissioned by Bud Light. It complements the dilly-dilly, Philly-Philly advertising campaign for their suds.
The piece not only is massive, standing more than 10 feet tall, but it's impressively detailed. You can practically see Foles’ contact lenses through his helmet. You can’t miss the statues when you exit the Eagles’ Pro Shop. Just so you know, some players don’t think it will make Carson Wentz feel like an outcast. Maybe somebody else, not Wentz.
Beyond the art work, Philly-Philly parallels the play of Foles. If he’s right about functioning best when he gets into a rhythm, it might be a while before he finds the groove that made him the Super Bowl MVP.
Foles has had an awful preseason, replete with turnovers and sacks, for a variety of reasons. Most of the wide receivers and running backs sat out the games nursing injuries. The group includes Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), Nelson Agholor (hamstring), Mack Hollins (groin), Jay Ajayi (foot) and Corey Clement (ankle).
Foles hasn’t practiced fully with the first-team offense until this, the week of the opener. Splitting snaps with Wentz, who won’t play while he continues to rehab his knee, didn’t accelerate the process.
Foles clearly needs work before his pure instincts take over. Pure as in not only knowing when the time is right to run the Philly Special, as it became apparent in the replays, but executing it without tripping over his own feet. Athletes are like that.
“I have to get the feel for the game,” Foles said. “I have to get to the point where in the game I’m not really thinking, where I’m just seeing and reacting and understanding subconsciously. That’s where I sort of hit my zone as an athlete.”
Foles has had an eccentric NFL career. He threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions during the 2013 season, one in which he tied the NFL record set by several legends with seven scoring passes in one game.
Former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who wanted the quarterback competition to roll into the pre-game warmups, remarked that Foles would be his starting quarterback for the next "1,000 years." Foles wound up getting traded to the Rams, who released him.
Last season Foles bounced back from a slow start in relief of Wentz to dominate in the playoffs. Ultimately he defeated Tom Brady in a shootout, becoming the first person to throw a touchdown pass and catch one in the Super Bowl.
Zach Ertz, the last active member of the Eagles to catch one of Foles’ record seven TD passes in the blowout of the Oakland Raiders in 2013, says big performances are in the quarterback’s DNA.
“That whole second half of the year, everyone was freaking, we were just firing on all cylinders,” Ertz said. “He had seven touchdowns in three quarters. He could have had eight or nine. He was just playing out of his mind like he was that entire year. Like he was at the end of last year. When he’s comfortable, he freaking plays like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. So, we’ve just got to make him feel comfortable. He’ll do the rest.”