Nick Foles showed remarkable composure under intense pressure last Sunday in leading the Bears to a dramatic 30-26 comeback win over the Falcons.
Replacing an ineffective Mitchell Trubisky in the second half, Foles threw three touchdown passes in the final 6:20 of the game to overcome a 26-10 deficit.
To those who know Foles well—like Bears coach Matt Nagy—the veteran quarterback's demeanor mirrored what it's always been in crucial situations.
"I would say that any calming presence that any player has in those moments definitely helps you out as a coach," said Nagy, who previously worked with Foles as an offensive assistant with the Eagles in 2012 and the Chiefs in 2016. "I've always known that Nick has had that. I didn't know it right away, but I've seen him in another uniform and I've felt it, and I've talked to other coaches that have told me about it."
It's the same calm, cool and collected persona that Foles demonstrated in 2017 when he led the Eagles to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history after replacing an injured Carson Wentz late in the regular season. All Foles did in a 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII was throw for 373 yards and three touchdowns and catch a 1-yard TD pass.
"Obviously, you see the Super Bowl, and then you talk to him in the offseason and you listen to his experiences that he went through, and little tricks that help him in those types of situations," Nagy said. "Now, a lot of that is DNA. But he's also learned how to go about his own way of making it work.
"I did feel that in that game [last Sunday]. I looked out at him out there—matter of fact, it was actually right before the [game-winning] touchdown pass to Anthony Miller. He just was kind of in his own zone, and I could just tell, like, not to mess with him, just let him go, he's in a good place right now.
"That doesn't mean that something good's going to happen, because there's going to be times he's going to throw a pick or he's going to make a bad decision. That's going to happen. But in the big moments, the calmness, being cool, collected, all that, that's a strength of his."
Foles will have more opportunities to show those attributes after being named the Bears' new starting quarterback on Monday. His next chance comes Sunday against the Colts at Soldier Field. It'll be a reunion between Foles and Indianapolis coach Frank Reich, who served as offensive coordinator on the Eagles' Super Bowl-winning team.
"A lot of quarterbacks in the NFL have that composure; I just think Nick's maybe at another level," Reich said Wednesday during a video call with Chicago reporters. "Part of that is I just think he's fearless. He's a fearless competitor. I think that's where a lot of it comes from. He's not tied up mentally or emotionally with failure. He deals with it in his unique way, which you all know, and I think that makes him a better player."
Reich's observation about how Foles' fearlessness enabled him to deal with failure resonated with the quarterback.
"I think that's more just life," Foles said. "The Book of James in the Bible talks about trials, and if you read it, finding joy within trials. I think so many times as people, we think when we have a bad game or a bad moment or something like that the world is against us. And that's not really the case. I've said it over and over again that the tough times, they're not fun, but they equip you for what's ahead as long as you approach it with the right heart.
"[It's] definitely not easy, but I think what Frank is trying to say is I've been very blessed throughout my life whenever I've had tough times or had trials to not only have my faith there to grow from, but to have people like Frank and other people to lift me up and be there for me. I can do that for others as well.
"That's really why I play the game, is you get an opportunity to instill confidence and calmness with your teammates and your coaches in a chaotic moment, and that's just something throughout the years, going through trials, going through tough times, it's just equipped [me]. It's never fun to go through those tough times, but it's a big reason why stepping into those moments, I just don't worry about it too much. I just go out there and be fearless as much as I can be."
That attitude has carried Foles through a rollercoaster career. While he has reached the highest of highs—winning a championship and being named Super Bowl MVP—he has also had to deal with disappointing one-year stints with the Rams in 2015 and the Jaguars last year.
"I ultimately knew through those times that God was doing something inside me that was more than the game of football," Foles said. "It was as a human being. It was a trial I had to go through. Like St. Louis, being traded from Philadelphia, even this last year in Jacksonville, there were definitely bright spots within those years, absolutely. But all-in-all as a vocation, it was a lot of trials, and just understanding who I am as a person and not let my identity be framed in how many yards I throw for, how many touchdowns I throw for, even winning the Super Bowl. That's been a huge part of my life and career, is not holding tight to those things.
"Like I don't hold tight to the Lombardi Trophy. I want the success to be a byproduct of the little things each and every day, instilling into people's lives, using this as a platform to help different people and different things. And then the byproduct of that is I can step on the field and be a lot more free than if I put everything on a pedestal. It's just shown throughout my career and my life. There's been more of a peace at going to work.
"There are still a lot of things that go on and it is, at times, a stressful situation. But the key is just learning how to alleviate stress by understanding what I do is to glorify God first and foremost and not myself. And that helps me when I'm thrust into crazy situations."