What Is Different About November and December in the NFL? Nick Foles Explained
You hear it every NFL season. November and December football is just... different. It separates the pretenders from the contenders, and the games often just mean more.
Nobody knows this more than Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles. He has etched his name into NFL history books over the past two seasons because of his play in the grueling winter months.
He led the Philadelphia Eagles to a monumental Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in 2017, and in 2018 he went 3-0 as the Eagles' starter in the final three games of the regular season to propel the Eagles into the playoffs. For whatever reasons, Foles has flipped a switch in crunch time in recent years and has become the go-to man when it comes to talking about winter football.
Addressing local media on Wednesday, Foles explained what is so different about the NFL in the later months and how he hopes to keep his momentum going with the Jaguars in the final seven games of this season.
“It is harder, it is a lot harder," Foles explained. "Guys have been playing for a long time. More is on the line."
And as Foles would go on to explain, teams have gelled by that point in the season. They have their identities and cultures firmly set in, along with their schemes. Teams are hitting their stride, and the Jaguars will have to match that.
"Offenses and teams and cultures have been developed. You never know each year that a team is developing a culture," Foles said. "It does not matter if you have 90 percent of your team returning. That 10 percent will affect culture and you have to bring them along. At this point, culture is a really big thing."
Foles continued, "That is the biggest challenge of stepping back in there and playing football when it has been a while. I look forward to the challenge because of the guys I get to step in the huddle with and be with on the sidelines.”
Foles will start at quarterback for the 4-5 Jaguars in an AFC South road game vs. the 5-4 Indianapolis Colts this Sunday, his first start since Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Foles went down with a clavicle injury 11 snaps into the game, his first as a Jaguar after signing a four-year, $88 million contract in the offseason.
Foles would later have surgery as a result of the injury and missed the next eight games, with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II leading the team to a 4-4 record over that span. This wasn't the first time Foles suffered a clavicle injury, but as he explained Wednesday the recovery process was actually quicker because of the nature of the injury.
“Well it’s amazing with medicine," he said. "You get a hairline fracture where you don’t need surgery [and] it can take longer, to where when you snap it, you need surgery and put a plate in there, it can actually heal quicker. So, snapping it actually helped it. A little more painful. I get to buzz – every time I go through the airport now, I get to get stopped and checked. I get to meet more people, it’s great.”
Foles will be leaned on as the Jaguars try to make a name for themselves in November and December and, in their eyes, hopefully beyond then. For the team to have success, they will need the winter football version of Foles from years past.