Perhaps the most criticized man in Philadephia this week, both before and after Saturday afternoon's divisional playoff game between the Eagles and Falcons will be Nick Foles.
The one-time starter began the year as Carson Wentz' back up. Foles was forced to ascend to team leader when Wentz tore his ACL back in Week 13. And after throwing four touchdown passes in a comeback victory over the Giants in Week 15, Foles went 23-for-49 for 202 yards, two interceptions and just one touchdown over the ensuing two games.
Put another way — Foles has been inconsistent and his play of late has fans worried.
The chatter among fans, and NFL insiders (and Las Vegas, which handicapped the Eagles as the first No. 1 seed ever to be a home underdog to a 6-seed) has reached a fevered pitch but Foles tunes it out.
"I don't really answer texts or repond to calls right now," Foles said Tuesday. "I am really focused in."
Foles was on a roller coaster ride this season, and the hopes and dreams of a 13-3 team and its Super Bowl hungry fans rest in his hands. Thankfully, the Philadelphia pressure cooker has a release valve — Foles' family.
"We were here for a few days and got a lot of work in but we had a few days off and I got to spend time with my family," Foles said, referring to the bye week the Eagles had last week. "There is a reset button, there is reflection because there is a lot going on."
Foles famously threw an NFL record seven touchdown passes during his first stay in Philly in 2013. He compiled a 27-2 touchdown to interception ratio, won an NFC East crown and nearly led Philly to victory in its most recent playoff game, a loss to the Saints three years ago. Since then, he had a rocky stay in St. Louis and nearly retired before Andy Reid got him back as a No. 2 in Kansas City. And then everything changed last spring when he and his wife had a daughter.
"To me family is everything," Foles said. "I am fortunate to play this game now but my family will be there the rest of my life. They love me no matter what. No matter how I play, when I go home my wife always loves me and my daughter has no idea what's going on, she just smiles and makes noises."
With so much heat on the Eagles' players to overcome adversity once again against the Falcons, the time off last week was just what the doctor ordered as the Eagles start putting the pads back on and preparing for Saturday's 4:35 p.m. kickoff.
Foles' respite with his family may be the subtle influence that helps the 28-year-old find the strength and passion to lead the Eagles to victory.
"That's my life, family is my life," Foles said, tearing up a bit in front of media members. "I want to give everything I have and my family is there watching and supporting me. For me, having a daughter it's unreal. I go home every night and I see her and it puts life in perspective. She's almost seven months old but I want to go out there and play the best game of my life because my daughter is gonna know. She's alive."