This thread is not about Michael Vick vs Nick Foles. Please do not get into that argument again. Let’s wait a few weeks.
This thread is about Nick Foles and trying to understand who/what he is. Jimmy Bama put together a post on him and how his rookie season compares to some other players. Jimmy’s conclusion is in his title: “Yes, Nick Foles Had a Good Rookie Season”.
Foles is a complicated subject. I had him rated as a 4th round prospect last year. I did not expect him to be a starting QB, but looked at him as a project. Why?
I thought Foles needed a lot of work. He didn’t have a great arm. His deep balls were not consistently good. He was limited athletically. His footwork was in issue, largely due to so much time in the spread offense. The spread also meant that he would have to get used to making more intermediate throws and reading defenses. Foles needed mental, physical and skills training. In short, a project.
Injuries forced Foles to play a lot in the preseason and he responded well. He finished 2nd in the league in preseason passing yards. He was 4th in QB rating, among passers with 50 or more attempts. Foles played against starters, backups and third stringers, but he also played with those groups. He showed promise.
Foles then played most of the first meeting with Dallas. Vick got hurt after the first quarter and Foles finished the game. He then started the next 6 weeks. Foles numbers were not so impressive here, unless you put things into context. Jimmy does some of this, as he points out the OL issues, injuries to skill players and defensive issues the Eagles had.
I don’t think people remember the 2012 season very well. The team started 3-1. Then they lost a couple of heartbreakers to fall to 3-3. During the bye week, Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo. That is when the defense fell apart and became awful. Up to that point, the Eagles had one of the best pass defenses in the league and were solid overall. 3 of the opponents were held to 17 points or less. No one had scored more than 27. The Lions racked up 449 yards in an overtime game, but aside from them, teams were held to 336 or less yards.
In the final 10 games, there were 6 games when the opponent gained 360 or more yards. There were 7 games when the opponent scored 30 or more points. Takeaways dried up. Foles and the offense were facing an uphill battle every week before the opening kickoff ever took place. The Football Gods really wanted to test Foles.
Think about the Bengals game for just a second. Cincy finished the season ranked 8th in scoring defense and 6th in yards allowed. Foles had to face that team on a short week since it was a Thursday Night game. Foles didn’t have DeSean Jackson or Brent Celek to help him out. Clay Harbor then got hurt during the game, making the TE position pretty useless. The Eagles led 13-10 at the half before a slew of turnovers busted the game wide open.
Just casually glancing at the numbers tells you nothing. 16-33-180, with 1 TD and 1 INT. The Eagles were held to just 13 points. Sounds pretty bad for Foles and the offense. When you dig deeper and see that Foles had a makeshift OL and an odd assortment of skill players, that has to change your perception.
At that same point, RG3 and Russell Wilson were tearing the league up. Both guys played for winning teams that could run the football and make plays on defense. Those guys had favorable situations.
The one rookie who could compare to Foles was Andrew Luck. He had a porous defense and rebuilt offense around him. The big difference there…Luck is a once in a generation prospect. Foles is a project. Luck compares to Peyton Manning and John Elway. Foles just isn’t in that conversation. Not by a mile (or 10).
Look back to the 2011 college season.
Passing Efficiency leaders: 1 – Wilson , 2 – Griffin III , 5 – Luck , 28 – Foles.
Then look at 2010.
Passing Efficiency leaders: 2 – Luck , 29 – Griffin III , 34 – Foles , 62 – Wilson
Luck is just a freak. RG3 was coming off an injury and still developing as a passer. Foles was Foles. Wilson played at Wisconsin as a Senior, NC State as a Junior. The difference is that UW had an outstanding O-line and dynamic running game. That took the pressure off him and allowed him to make plays, but not carry the offense.
Foles never played with the same caliber of talent as those guys in college. He hasn’t done it in the NFL. Foles is always given the task of shoving the boulder up the steep hill. That would be okay if he were a special talent, but he’s not.
We don’t know how good Foles can be when he’s in a favorable situation. That’s why it is so tough to evaluate him. We might find out that he’s just as flawed a player with good talent as without it. We also might find out that he looks a heck of a lot better. All we can do is guess and make projections for now.
Last year Foles was adjusting to life in the NFL, learning a new offense and adjusting his mechanics. He now knows the NFL. His mechanics are more natural. Foles is adjusting to another new offense, but it should be a combination of the WCO and the spread. He has played in both systems already so that should make the transition easier for him.
I don’t know if Foles will look like good QB this summer. I do know he’ll be better.
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Foles vs some Eagles competition.
Kevin Kolb – After 4 seasons in the NFL, Kolb had 7 starts. His numbers here are for all games, not just starts. He had 319 pass attempts, 11 TDs and 14 INTs. His rating for that period was 73.2.
AJ Feeley – I will throw out his time in Miami and just use Feeley’s Eagles numbers. Over the course of 4 seasons, Feeley started 7 games. As with Kolb, we’ll use all his games, not just starts. Feeley threw 309 passes. He had 16 TDs and 14 INTs. His rating was 78.6.
Donovan McMabb – We can just use his rookie year. McNabb played in 12 games and had 6 starts. He threw 216 passes. He had 8 TDs and 7 INTs. McNabb finished with a rating of 79.0. He was also 47-313 as a runner, but had no TDs.
You cannot draw any conclusions from this data. The circumstances were different for each player. The point isn’t to prove Foles is the best or worst in this group. It is merely to show that he fits in. We don’t yet know how Kolb’s career will play out. Feeley never could hold a starting job. McNabb is a borderline HOF’er. Foles clearly doesn’t have his physical gifts, but might prove to be a good NFL QB in other ways.
I do hope Foles stays healthy this year and plays at least some. I’d like to have an idea of whether or not he can play. It would help us make plans for the future. This team isn’t going to go where we need it to until we find a franchise QB.
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I was reminded yet again that life is rarely simple. Yes, DeSean’s 2011 season, when he allowed his unfulfilled contract quest to make him listless and uninterested, was an affront to everyone who bought a ticket, let alone anyone who bought a No. 10 jersey. Yes, I get as sick of JACCPOT and stories about ridiculous bar bills and $400,000 grievances filed by Drew Rosenhaus as you do. But somewhere under all that, I think, is an interesting, reflective person, who unfortunately feels he needs to project something entirely different.
Definitely read this.