Andy Reid drove us insane last year. He had a banged up O-line. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson were hurt. Reid had a rookie QB in Nick Foles. So what did Reid do? He threw the ball. A lot. That made no sense to any of us.
But was Reid really doing us a favor?
Foles averaged 38 pass attempts per game last year. And one of those games wasn’t even a start. He threw 40 or more passes 3 times in 2012. Neither Russell Wilson nor Colin Kaepernick has ever thrown 40 passes in an NFL game. That’s what happens when you’re handed a great defense and a great running game. Foles was given solid skill players, but had King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly as his bookend tackles, with Dallas Reynolds and Jake Scott (remember him?) on the inside. Foles was then asked to carry the offense. It wasn’t pretty.
But that trial by fire may have been a blessing in disguise.
This year Foles has a good O-line. He has good pass catchers. He has LeSean McCoy back on the field. Foles hasn’t had to throw more than 31 passes in a game. Last season he threw more than that in all but one game. The pressure was on last year. This year Foles simply has to be the point guard. Find the open guy. Get him the ball. Let the playmakers make plays.
Chip Kelly’s system isn’t magic. It just gives the QB a favorable situation, assuming you’ve got talented pieces to work with and that the QB is smart and a good decision-maker. Foles learned to make decisions last year. He didn’t make a lot of dumb mistakes. His issues were either physical or experience related. Foles is a lot smarter in Year 2 and he’s in a favorable situation.
Compare that to RG3. He never threw 40 passes in a game last year. RG3 had the league’s best run game. He had a stable O-line. He was in an offense that the league hadn’t seen before. Life was good. He finished with a rating of 102.4 and was on the NFC East champs. This year is different. Griffin is coming off an ACL tear. The league has seen his offense. The O-line is stable, but not playing well. Griffin’s QB rating has dropped 19 points and the Skins are in last place.
RG3 threw 40 or more passes in the first 3 games. The Skins fell behind big and had to play catch-up. RG3 hasn’t developed as a passer and now that the pressure is on him to be more than a QB weapon he is struggling. When given a favorable situation, RG3 was great. When given a crappy situation, he’s suddenly way out of his comfort zone.
Foles suffered last year. He knows what a crappy situation is like. Now that he’s in a better situation, life is a lot simpler. The Eagles will fall behind big in some game and Foles will have to start throwing the ball a lot. I doubt he’ll go into panic mode. He’ll just think back to 2012 when he did that every week.
I don’t know for a fact that all the passing attempts did benefit Foles, but it is at least an interesting theory. You don’t want to be stuck in a bad situation for a long time. That’s when bad habits set in. Foles played 7 games, starting 6. That wasn’t enough time for any habits to set in, but it was enough for Foles to learn a lot of lessons.
Those lessons are benefiting the 2013 Eagles. Foles is playing great. RG3 and Kaepernick are both struggling as they’re being asked to make conventional plays in the passing game on a consistent basis.
Big Red left us a good toy under the Christmas tree and might have done us another favor by mis-using him last year.