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Familiar Guiding Hands Can Point Nick Foles to Success

How familiarity with the quarterbacks coach and the offensive system have always put Bears quarterback in a position where he succeeds

Some NFL quarterbacks walk onto a field and produce. 

Most need assistance. 

Nick Foles can thrive with someone familiar pointing him in the proper direction.

The Bears have little history for bringing in quarterbacks from other teams and enjoying immediate returns, as their importations of Jay Cutler, Erik Kramer and Rick Mirer showed. However, in Foles they have a passer who has succeeded at this in the past when placed with the right quarterbacks coach or coaches. And they think they've assembled the staff to provide the direction and comfort.

Coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo have each been a guiding hand for Foles during his greatest successes, and think they can bring him back to the level he played at during peak periods of a career with wild swings.

"I think the thing that Nick needs to do is just come in here and embrace the situation that he’s in," DeFilippo said. "He's in a really good situation again with the people that he knows."

They're people who molded Foles' success.

Although Foles has never started and played through a full NFL season, when he has been in the Andy Reid style of offense or had Lazor as his quarterbacks coach, he posted a 96.5 passer rating and completed 64.9% of passes at 7.4 yards per attempt. This was for all regular season and postseason games.

With DeFilippo as his quarterbacks coach in 2017, Foles enjoyed a phenomenal postseason passer rating of 115.7 during his run to Super Bowl MVP.

Foles experienced his greatest regular season in 2013, when his quarterbacks coach was Lazor under Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

"I thought he had a fantastic year statistically and led us to a whole lot of victories," Lazor said. "I saw him grow as a teammate. Of course, that was a long time ago. I think both of us, in football years, it was a lot of pass attempts for him, a lot of play calls and training camps for me.

"We've both gone through wins and losses, so I think we both probably continued to grow since then. I'm excited."

Last year proved one of Foles' greatest disappointments while DeFilippo was on Jaguars coach Doug Marrone's staff, but as offensive coordinator.

"Obviously I was with coach DeFilippo last year, but coach Flip wasn't my quarterback coach really and that was a different staff and everything," Foles said.

Foles also had the misfortune of a broken collarbone after throwing eight passes, then struggled upon returning late in the season.

"There's so many factors that go into everything," DeFilippo said. "I mean, things that you can control, the things you can't control like getting hurt on the 11th play of the game, 11th play of the season while throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass." 

When Foles hasn't enjoyed a situation with familiar quarterback coaches, he has been mediocre at best.

Although DeFilippo was in Jacksonville, Foles' direct instruction came from quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich. It was Milanovich who coached Blake Bortles in 2017 and 2018, then went to the CFL this season to be Edmonton's head coach.

In 2014, Lazor left the Eagles to be Miami's offensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave took over as Foles' quarterbacks coach under Kelly.

In 2015, Foles' quarterback coach was first-year NFL assistant Chris Weinke and the offensive coordinator was Frank Cignetti, who was fired in early December amid a dreadful season.

During the seasons away from a familiar, comfortable coaching situation, Foles posted a 76.4 passer rating, threw 22 of his 35 career interceptions and averaged 6.47 yards per pass attempt.

It's possible the added variable of an offseason without practices due to COVID-19 now can be the X-factor disrupting Foles' preparation.

He's expecting to come in ahead of the curve anyway because of the Bears' virtual offseason program. And, of course, there's the coaching familiarity.

"They know me, I know them and we can sort of get a head start on those sorts of things," Foles said.

What Foles hasn't done is work in a staff with Nagy calling plays. 

Whether this only fortifies his strong ties with assistants or is a destructive element remains to be seen.

"That's unique," Foles admitted. "Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, I went through that there where he once was my QBs coach.

"So it's nice to have that foundation but it's by no means starting over with no knowledge of the offense."

The bottom line is that when provided with system knowledge and familiar coaching guidance, Foles has rarely struggled.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven