PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson put a gag order on his players prior to their media availability Sunday afternoon, instructing them not reveal whether Carson Wentz or Nick Foles would start against the Atlanta Falcons this week.
Right tackle Lane Johnson, known to have the loosest lips on the team, was bum-rushed by reporters hoping he would leak the intel. Johnson was on his best behavior, though, noting that spilling the beans could result in a fine, jokingly adding that "you may get a damn spanking."
The fear of consequence was lifted Monday morning when Pederson walked to the podium and officially named Foles the starter. Players were finally able to speak their mind later Monday afternoon, and they wasted no time backing Foles.
"What did he not show the world [in the Super Bowl]?" receiver Nelson Agholor asked. "I've always had faith in him since he came in."
Running back Jay Ajayi added: "I just think he showed what kind of leader he is ... just a guy that is fearless. I'm excited to go out and play with him."
It's been an offseason of uncertainty in respect to who would start at quarterback. Wentz set the goal of returning for the opener and pushed himself back from a multi-ligament knee injury to make it close. He and Foles split reps as recently as last week before it was determined Wentz would not be medically cleared for contact.
Foles is well-versed when it comes to knowing when to show deference to the franchise quarterback and when to assert himself for the benefit of the team. After toeing that line this summer, he moves out in front once again.
"Since he came here last year and did what he had to do as our starter, he's always had a presence and I've always respected that," Agholor said. "It doesn't matter who's out there. Both the quarterbacks, they know when they're in that huddle, it's their huddle. And that's every quarterback in our offense: you own your huddle. ... Doug [Pederson] is a [former] quarterback, and he is also our head coach, and he teaches guys that. We have to take responsibility of the huddle as a quarterback and as wide receivers no matter what group you're in. Own your job, own your responsibility."
Foles did his part during the Eagles' Super Bowl run, completing 73 percent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns in the postseason, including three against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. He is coming off a rocky preseason, looking nothing like he did en route to being named Super Bowl MVP, but his teammates don't seem concerned.
It's not a big leap, then, for them to put their trust in Foles for Week 1.