Nick Foles just wants to win, and he doesn't care what it takes to get there.
Foles helped put enough points on the scoreboard to secure his second win as the Bears' starting quarterback Sunday in Charlotte. Foles' nine-yard touchdown pass to Cole Kmet in the first quarter gave the Bears a lead they would never relinquish. Still, the offensive output stalled at times as the Bears beat the Carolina Panthers 23-16.
It wasn't a blowout, but Foles will take it.
"I would first say: 'Would you rather lose pretty or win ugly?'" said Foles. "I think that we'd rather win ugly. I think that is the common thing, so I think it tells you a lot about our team. Is this who we are offensively? We want to improve. We want to get better. We want to have rhythm. But ultimately, in the NFL, it's about winning games. It doesn't matter how you do it. It just matters that you get it done. If you put up 50 points and you lose a game, those 50 points don't mean anything."
Foles completed 23 of 39 passes for 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception. While it may not match the gaudy numbers other teams are seeing from their quarterbacks, it was enough to push the Bears to 5-1 and put them atop the NFC North standings.
"Right now, we're winning games," said Foles. "We're playing together as a team. We can improve. I think that is exciting. If we were winning these games and playing perfect and they were this tight and we're playing perfect, what do you do? Where do you improve? I mean, then we're sitting here and I guess when we play those teams, it's just not going to happen."
Foles stressed that the offense is not a finished product with him under center. In only his third start, Foles sees things coming together around him. However, he doesn't believe that the team's 261 yards of total offense will represent the norm going forward.
"Offenses don't get fixed overnight," said Foles, "and sometimes they don't get fixed throughout the course of years. You see that in the NFL. There has been teams that have been bad offensively for a very long time. We're not one of those teams. We're a team that is young offensively, we're growing, we're getting to know each other, we're figuring out who we are and we're doing it at the right time, and as a team, we're winning these games."
This season, Foles has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 878 yards and six touchdowns. His willingness to challenge defenses has led to impressive plays like Kmet's first career touchdown, but has also produced four interceptions, one in each game in which Foles has played this season.
Foles is looking forward and counting on the offense to peak later in the season, as the team appears likely to be in the mix for a playoff spot.
"We're not going to get complacent," said Foles, "and say, 'Hey man, we're 5-1. This is it.' No! We're sitting there in the locker room after the game talking through it: 'We gotta be better here. This is what we gotta do. Communication here. Route running here. Hey, we gotta be able to run the ball here.' We know that. I know you all are going to ask those questions. We know that."
Foles' interception came in the third quarter, after an Eddie Jackson forced fumble gave the Bears excellent field position and the chance to build a two-touchdown lead. On the first play of the drive, Foles reacted to a collapsed pocket by throwing off his back foot, straight into the hands of Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn.
"It was a dumb interception," said Foles. "I was just trying to get us down there [into the end zone], trying to get it over the defender. The guy made a good play. The reality is that's on me. The reality is I should just throw it away or try to get Jimmy on a two-yard completion and get to second down. I got a little too aggressive trying to make a play. I'll learn from it and move on."
Despite the mistake, Foles was able to move the ball on the next drive, setting up his first rushing touchdown of the season. Foles directs credit to the culture of the offense and the attitude of his teammates.
"I love the passion of the players most importantly," said Foles. "They care. We're bonding. We're getting to know each other. That's football. You don't just go out there and play football. You gotta care about the man next to you to make those plays. So, I like where we're at. I know we're going to improve. I believe in our staff. I believe in our players, and I'm really grateful to be a part of this organization."
As has been the case for much of the season, regardless of which quarterback is playing, the offense had some of its best results when it switched to no-huddle. Foles believes the momentum favors the Bears when they work swiftly.
"I think it's tough on the defense when you switch speeds," said Foles. "It's like playing basketball. You got a fast break. You bring it up. You do all these different things. You gotta show them these different speeds. And it ultimately comes down to putting stress on the defense and then letting players make plays. When you go no-huddle, hey, they're on their heels."
The numbers won't make him a fantasy darling or lead to Player of the Week honors, but Foles feels better coming off a team win than he would in an excellent individual performance.
"Great teams find a way to win a game," said Foles. "Bad teams win with prettiness. Good teams win no matter how it takes. So, I'm proud of our guys. I think we will continue to improve. Are we where we want to be? No, we're not where we want to be, but I am excited about our offense. I'm excited about the guys that are there."