Nick Foles' wildly successful 2013 regular season was strong enough to cement him as the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback this season and moving forward, but that by no means is validation that he has become a complete quarterback.
Foles' off the charts season, 29 total passing touchdowns and two interceptions reserved the second-year signal caller a place at the table among the elite quarterbacks in the game but in order to stay there, he must continue to evolve and improve.
Yet as the season wore on, and as Foles' touchdown-to-interception ratio continued to widen, it appeared that the Arizona product held onto the football longer than would be desired in an offense that is built around quick thinking play out of the quarterback. Ironically was perhaps Foles' strongest-strong suit that helped him overtake Michael Vick as the starting quarterback last season.
When Foles returns with his teammates to the Novacare Complex for the first day of the team's spring program on April 21st, it will be the first time that he begins a season as the quarterback atop the depth chart. Just as his growth has been steady from year-one to year-two of his career, spending an offseason under Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur can only benefit the steps in his growth that are to be expected from a third-year quarterback.
So what exactly needs to improve?
Foles, not unlike Vick, seemed to find it harder and harder late in the season to simply give up on a play. To Foles' credit, unlike the 33-year old Vick, rather than force the ball into tight windows or double coverage to try and make a play, sacks became his Achilles heel. One specific improvement for Foles should be to learn when to throw the ball out of bounds or out of harms way rather than take a potentially debilitating sack.
"I have to work on everything," said Foles, and upon cleaning out his Novacare Complex locker last month.
As Foles goes, moving forward, so will the Eagles.
Kelly and company now are tasked with building an offense around Foles and it will be his continued growth and development that determine just how far he leads them in 2014 and beyond.