We’ve been having a good discussion on Nick Foles in recent days. We’re all trying to figure how to accurately assess what we’re seeing. The comments section has been filled with good opinions and ideas.
I think we’ve agreed to some basic points.
* Foles wasn’t a high pick. Most top QBs are high picks so that simple fact has us wondering a bit if this is fool’s gold.
* Foles isn’t physically special in any way. That makes appreciating him more difficult. If the guy never wows you, how good is he really?
* The Chip Kelly offense made star QBs at New Hampshire and Oregon. The QBs were very different, but all managed to play like stars. Mike Vick looked great for the first 2 weeks of this season. It is fair to wonder how much of the crazy numbers is the offense and how much is Foles.
* We all love what we’re seeing right now. There is no question that Foles is playing well and the offense is working.
Let’s address some of the points. The item about draft status is definitely important. For every Russell Wilson (mid-round star) or Tom Brady (late-round star) there are a slew of Top 15 picks. The Manning brothers, Luck, RG3, Big Ben, Stafford, Rivers, Cutler, and Ryan are all high picks that have played at a high level. The numbers tell you that you’re more likely to find a star QB early.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. The point is that statistically it is more likely Foles is not a true star QB. Your heart wants you to believe in Foles, but the odds are telling you to hold on a minute.
Foles is a strange player. He’s got some Priest Holmes to his game. Sounds odd, but here’s what I mean. Back when Holmes was starring for the Chiefs he would run for a ton of TDs. It seemed like he walked into the end zone for half of them. “I could do that”. Holmes did have a great OL that gave him room and opened holes. But Holmes also had great skills. He had incredible vision, body control and smooth running style. He could find the hole and get there in a fluid, natural manner. Holmes made it look easy. He scored 70 rushing TDs in 4 years. To put that in perspective, Shady has 35 in almost 5 years. Holmes did incredible things, but didn’t make the wow runs like Barry Sanders or our man Shady.
I come away more impressed with Foles after tape study than watching the game live. Foles isn’t going to make many wow plays when you watch a game live, but he will stand out when you study the game. You see how he anticipates plays. You see how he uses his eyes and fakes to manipulate the defense. There is a lot of subtlety to his success.
Re-watch Sunday’s game. You’ll see Foles standing in a good pocket and making nice throws. Doesn’t jump out. Looks almost easy. But go re-watch the Dallas game. He was bad in that game despite having time to throw and open receivers. Just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is. Think about how many times Ron Jaworski used to watch coach’s tape and tell us that Donovan or Kolb or Vick had open receivers and just didn’t get them the ball. Foles is finding those guys and making good throws.
Don’t underestimate what Foles is doing because it seems simple. Hand the ball to Shady. Throw to him. Throw to DeSean. Mix in passes for Cooper and the TEs. Occasionally get a pass to Avant. Kelly has said that the perfect QB for his system is Rajon Rondo, the Celtics point guard. Kelly wants someone to distribute the ball to the playmakers. If those guys happen to be wide open, don’t punish Foles for that. If the QB doesn’t play well, the system doesn’t work. See Foles vs Dallas and Vick vs the Giants for evidence of that. The offense is clicking and Foles is a big part of that.
Someone in the comments section brought up Matt Schaub as a point of comparison to Foles in terms of the impressive numbers. This is actually a terrific comparison. Schaub plays for Gary Kubiak, who learned his offense from Mike Shanahan. Both guys believe in the zone-run game and then lots of play-action passing. Brian Griese once led the NFL in QB rating while QB of the Broncos and playing in this system. Schaub has a career rating of 91.9, despite not being special in any way. The system works very well with the right personnel. It is QB friendly. UDFA Case Keenum is doing well in the system now. To put Schaub’s QB rating in perspective, McNabb only had 3 seasons with a rating higher than Schaub’s career figure with the Texans.
Is Foles a product of the system? No. He showed NFL ability last year when playing in a very different attack. Some loved him in college. Trent Dilfer thought Foles should have been a 1st rounder and one of the first QBs taken. Foles isn’t a talentless guy that is being propped up by a gimmicky system. Foles is thriving in Kelly’s offense, but the numbers he is posting go beyond this being just a system. Foles is putting up special numbers right now. The system enhances his performance because it takes advantage of what he does well. Joe Montana was great in the WCO, but he would have been less effective playing for Norv Turner. Joe wasn’t a system guy. He was legitimately talented. He just happened to play in a system that was a perfect fit and helped him to maximize his ability.
The trick with Foles is figuring out what is real and what is a hot streak. What level can he consistently play at? If Foles turns out to be a Matt Schaub type of QB, is that good enough? It might be with the right pieces around him. Some reporter ought to ask James Casey about the differences with Foles and Schaub. I know Matt has a better arm, but Foles might be a better QB in some ways. Too early to know for sure, but would be interesting to hear Casey offer his opinion on the subject.
Time will tell if Foles is the long term answer. We do know he’s the answer for this year and that’s good enough for now. The Eagles are kicking butt and actually fun to watch. Foles is a big part of that.
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Donnie Jones was named NFC Special Teams player of the week.
Boo. How dare Jones steal the spotlight from Foles!!! Punters should know their place.
Jones turned out to be a very good signing.
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I’m still working on my game review. If you want some great stuff, check out the guys from Chip Wagon. Those guys are smarter than Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and Joe Theismann combined.
What looked like a simple TD run was more complicated than you think. Great breakdown.
I don’t know what is going on with Jim Haslett. He used a Nickel defense on a couple of GL plays. Against 2 TE sets. Guess what? The Eagles scored. Maybe I’m not so smart, but that seems borderline incompetent to me.
Please let Shanny and Haslett keep their jobs. Pretty please.