The Future at QB

Posted: January 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 129 Comments »

Nick Foles just had an amazing season. He led the NFL in QB rating, posting one of the highest totals in NFL history. He threw 27 TDs and only 2 INTs. Foles did this as a 2nd-year player in a new offensive system. Just wait til he gets more experience and knows what he’s doing. The sky is the limit.

Right?

Jeff McLane asked the question of whether Foles was a franchise QB in a recent article.

Foles will be the starter next season. He had a very good season and should – key word: should - improve with a full offseason as the No. 1 guy and another year with Chip Kelly.

But nothing is guaranteed. Some quarterbacks become exposed the more they play. Do the Eagles want to move forward beyond next season if Foles comes anywhere short of a title?

There are far too many variables involved to think that far ahead, but Lurie and Kelly don’t want to get caught financially committing to a close-but-no-cigar quarterback (Tony Romo, for example). The current Foles contract allows them an Andy Dalton-like out after next season.

Having questions about Foles and his future is absolutely fair. Heck, it’s smart.

McLane goes on to point out that Foles made some key mistakes in the last few games, pointing out some bad sacks and intentional grounding penalties. Are these a troubling trend? I think McLane is way off base here. You can’t point out Foles issues in a vacuum. You need to have a point of comparison.

* Peyton Manning lost his first 3 playoff games. He had a total of 1 TD pass and 2 INTs. The Jets shut him out 41-0 in 2002, Manning’s 5th year as a starter.

* Aaron Rodgers didn’t start a game until his 4th season. He threw a total of 59 passes in those years. Foles threw a total of 78 passes in his first 2 games as a rookie. Rodgers lost his first playoff game. ARZ beat him 51-45. Rodgers led a huge 4th Qtr comeback, but came up just short. Sound familiar?

* Drew Brees lost his first playoff game. San Diego fell to the Jets, 20-17. Brees put up good numbers, but a missed FG really hurt his team. The Chargers were at home and playing against a Wild Card team. Sound familiar. That game was in Brees 4th season and 3rd as a starter. He had 42 starts under his belt before that. Foles had 16 starts prior to Saturday.

* Andrew Luck lost his first playoff game, 24-9. He went up against the Ravens and they ate him alive. Luck was 28-54-288 with an INT.

I don’t dispute McLane’s point that Foles played sloppy late in the season. I don’t dispute that he made some mistakes. My point is that you have to compare his performance to something. Who/what are we judging him against? It is easy to look at Rodgers, Brees, and Manning now that they are Super Bowl champs and proven elite QBs, but they had to start somewhere as well. You don’t compare Foles to them now, you compare him to them from early in their careers when they had similar circumstances. I think Foles holds up very well in that comparison.

In 2 or 3 years we can compare Foles to those guys in their best years. He may hold up well or he may not be anywhere close. Time will tell on that.

Instead of focusing on the question of whether Foles is a franchise QB, we need to ask…what is a franchise QB?

The knee-jerk response is someone who has won a Super Bowl. But Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer kill that immediately. And then you bring up Dan Fouts, Dan Marino and guys that were elite players who never won a ring. The SB isn’t a fair way to judge a franchise QB.

You could use the Pro Bowl and say that someone who has been to 4 Pro Bowls is a franchise QB. That shows the guy had a dominant stretch of play. Making it to a couple of Pro Bowls cane be isolated success. Going to 4 seems to be a better indicator. But what if a QB got stuck in the same conference as Brady and Peyton for a decade? He might have missed the Pro Bowl despite being a very good player. Steve McNair went to 3 Pro Bowls. I consider him a franchise QB but others might disagree.

You could go with regular season wins or division titles, but that gets tricky because a game manager can have plenty of regular season success. You could go with stats, but they can be very tricky as well.

Ideally you’d come up with some combination of team success, personal success and postseason success that created a standard which would cover a variety of players and situations without leaving loopholes.

And being a franchise QB isn’t a permanent status. It can go very quickly. Daunte Culpepper looked great for a while, but once he got hurt, he faded quickly. Randall Cunningham looked like arguably the best player in the whole league in 1990, but was on the downside of his career by 1992. Randall was hurt by a knee injury, but also a lack of focus and terrible work habits.

I basically boil the question down to this…is this QB someone I want to build my franchise around and do I think he can lead us to the Super Bowl?

I’m saying yes to Foles on both questions.

Some people want to label him a system QB. That’s fine with me because he’s still playing in that system. Foles is a great fit for what Kelly wants to do. He’s smart, accurate and doesn’t turn the ball over. Foles isn’t afraid to run and is just good enough at it that defenses can’t completely ignore him.

Just as important, Foles and Kelly seem to share the same mental approach to things. They are both grinders. They will work their tails off. Kelly isn’t a butt-kisser and Foles isn’t a high maintenance QB. He can take criticism and tough coaching.

Foles will be the QB heading into next year, but he’s only going to keep the job as long as he plays well. Kelly will deal with a bad game or two. The 27 TD/2 INT thing isn’t going to last forever. Kelly is a smart coach who has had success with many QBs. He’s tough on them, but truly does put them in position to succeed. Kelly will adapt his offense to his personnel and what is working or not working. He’ll work through issues.

That said, Foles can’t go into a major tailspin and expect to keep his job. I don’t think Foles would expect that. He’s hard on himself. Once Foles has been the starter for a while and built up some equity he can afford to deal with a bad season (see Eli Manning), but for the next couple of years Foles is still in the “prove-it” stage.

As good as Foles stats are, numbers can be deceiving at times. Josh Freeman threw for 4,065 yards and 27 TDs in 2012. Andy Dalton threw for 4,293 yards and 33 TDs this year. Freeman’s future is really up in the air. Some team may give him a chance to start, but there will be plenty of teams who have no interest in him whatsoever. Dalton is now hated in Cincinnati. How did those guys put up such numbers?

The skill players around them made those QB look better than they are. There is a running joke on Twitter among football writers and analysts that the Bengals have the best “bad ball catchers” in the league. Those receivers can adjust to Dalton’s passes and haul them in, whether short, long, in, or out. Think about some of the spectacular catches made by AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham. Freeman also benefited from big WRs who could make wild grabs. He had Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson.

Freeman never led the Bucs to the playoffs. Dalton is 0-3. He has thrown 1 TD and 6 INTs in those games. Cincy has scored a total of 26 offensive points in those games. The playoffs have a way of exposing QBs with limitations.

Foles definitely benefits from having good skill players, but he doesn’t have huge WRs that make spectacular grabs up above the DBs. We’ve seen Eagles receivers make some tough, impressive catches, but very few where the catch was spectacular and required special talent. If Foles did get lucky with some plays this year, that will get exposed over time. I hope that doesn’t happen, but we do have to acknowledge it is possible.

We can analyze and speculate all we want, but really we have to wait and see. Time will tell us if Nick Foles is indeed a franchise QB.

* * * * *

So what about Mike Vick and Matt Barkley?

Vick said a few weeks ago that he’s open to coming back as a backup. On Saturday night he said he sees himself as a starting QB and sounded less open to the idea. Now he’s back to saying he might return as a backup.

Vick is going up against 2 tough opponents here – pride and Father Time. Vick looks around the league and sees guys starting that he thinks he’s better than and a few he flat out knows he’s better than. That has to drive him nuts. Vick knows he’s getting older and he doesn’t want to waste what time he’s got left by sitting on the bench.

But Vick also likes Philly. He likes Chip Kelly and Nick Foles. Being the backup on a good team isn’t the worst thing in the world. What happens if Vick goes to say the Raiders and then ends up on the bench behind some punk rookie that is a pain to deal with? That would be torturous.

My guess is that Vick will look around to see if he can find a starting gig, but that he’ll stay open to returning. Whether the Eagles want him back…I have no idea. Kelly raves about Vick publicly. The players still love Vick to death.

I know many of you are down on Matt Barkley. I get that. The guy looked like an INT machine when he was on the field this year. He threw 49 passes. 4 of them were INTs. Foles has thrown 582 career passes and only 7 INTs.

I think you need to put Barkley into context. He came into the Dallas game trailing 17-3. He came into the Giants game down by double digits. Both times he had to throw and throw aggressively. There was no game-managing to be done. That doesn’t excuse the INTs, but it does help to understand them. Foles can take a sack and go on to the next play when the Eagles are in the lead or just a few points behind. Late in a game and losing by 10 or more, you have to take chances.

Barkley impressed me with his arm, which feels weird to say. He wasn’t impressive this summer, but threw the ball much better during the season. I also liked the aggressiveness that he played with. Barkley wasn’t scared to fail. I think that is a critical component to being a good QB.

Do the Eagles project Barkley to be the backup QB? That idea will make some fans crazy, but I think it is something Kelly and his staff will consider. They believe in this guy. They think he’ll get a lot better with being healthy and having a full offseason to focus on being an Eagle. Remember, the Eagles had a 2nd round grade on Barkley. They had him as a Top 50 player. No matter what you and I think, they liked him quite a bit. I doubt that’s changed.

Do the Eagles draft a QB? If so, how high?

I don’t think the team will spend a 1st round pick on a QB unless Chip Kelly is simply obsessed with some player and he’s somehow still on the board. After the 1st round, nothing would surprise me. It will really depend on what Kelly and the Eagles think of the players in the draft. I’d prefer the team to wait for the late rounds and then take a project with some raw talent, but I’ll never object to the team investing in a QB that they really like. That gives you insurance and competition.

Kelly won’t have an open competition at QB next year. Foles is the guy. He earned that right. But Kelly will want the QBs to push each other, whether Vick, another veteran, or a draft pick is joining Foles and Barkley. Kelly doesn’t want any player to think of himself as a backup. He wants his players always fighting for playing time by looking great in practice.

I’m still learning a lot from Kelly in regard to the QB position. Last year I thought he’d have no interest in bringing back Vick. Oops. Then I thought he’d have no interest in drafting Barkley. Oops. Stay tuned for this year’s bad prediction. I don’t have one yet, but I’m sure Chip will have me looking dumb at least once in the next few months.

_


  • Baloophi

    SEND TOMMY TO THE SENIOR BOWL!

    Fellow Igglesblitzarians –

    Our very own Tommy Lawlor will be heading down to Mobile in two weeks for the Senior Bowl to scout draft prospects, engage in awkward exchanges with Howie Roseman, and haul 400 cases of PBR back to Carolina in a big rig as Jimmy Bama blocks smokey in his Trans Am.

    If memory serves (and it often doesn’t), this will be his third trip to the nation’s premiere all-star event, which kicks off the draft season for non-draftniks like most of us. Last year I sponsored a pledge drive to help defray Tommy’s lodging and travel costs to the Azalea City and want to do it again this year.

    CHALLENGE:
    If we can generate 22 donations of any value I will cover the cost of Tommy’s airfare to and fro the Senior Bowl (economy, non-direct, and you may have to push-start the propellers… sorry).

    Any donation, large or small, will go a long way to helping Tommy out. Think of it as buying him a beer or a case of pudding in exchange for his on-the-ground, Eagles-centric reporting. Without him, we’d have to rely on Michael Lombardi, Michael Irvin and “Primetime” for our information. That’s the media equivalent of counting on an Alex Henery kick.

    To participate in this year’s Senior Bowl Challenge, simply click on the “Donate” button along the right hand banner of the page if you’d like to contribute. No need to post how much you gave, simply that you have. Hard to believe that just last year we were in a panic about who our head coach and safeties would be! Well… at least we have the coach!

    Fly Iggles Fly!

    • P_P_K

      This is way cool of you to pull together. Count me in.

    • Dubya

      dubyanyc@gmail.com email me the info on how you want to get this done. Im in!

    • Mac

      Consider it done.

    • Tumtum

      Done.

    • pjxii

      Done!

    • Philip Soloninka

      Like Pat Chung in the Eagles secondary… DONE.

    • A_T_G

      Well, unlike the in-home LASIK, this money for Tommy won’t leave me horribly disfigured. Done.

    • jackpotsdad

      Done!

    • AMKini

      Done

    • HipDaDip

      Done. Thanks for the motivation, Baloophi.

    • Crus57

      Done. Finally able to start repaying Tommy and the IgglesBlitz community for the all the enjoyment you have brought!

    • Spooonius

      I’m in.

    • dislikedisqus

      Very cool. Will chip in.

      • dislikedisqus

        Do donations via the paypal button count or do you want something separate?

    • mheil

      done

    • Harley

      donated

    • Michael Winter Cho

      I’m in–

    • Corey Brown

      send me info on how to donate, terrell84@hotmail.com

    • Vink

      Done! Thanks Tommy (and Baloophi)

    • Dominik

      Done!

      Great idea and a great post, Baloophi!!

  • Sean

    If Tajh Boyd struggles in the Senior Bowl and drops like Foles did, the Eagles should consider him starting in the third.

    • TommyLawlor

      Boyd would definitely be a potential target for this offense.

      • livingonapear

        After watching his game for Ohio State, I was salivating at the thought of Tajh Boyd running this offense.

        I still feel very conflicted. I’m a Foles booster, and I don’t buy into the “Kelly needs a running QB” bull, but at the same time, I really do want to see what a Mariota or Boyd could do in this offense.

  • Iskar36

    “I basically boil the question down to this…is this QB someone I want to
    build my franchise around and do I think he can lead us to the Super
    Bowl?”

    I understand this point of view, but as high as I am on Foles, I think it is still way to premature to say yes to either of these questions. At best, I think the answer is “hopefully”.

    For me, the question of what is a franchise QB comes down to, if you are in the position to draft the best QB in the draft (and that player legitimately deserves a high draft grade), do you go after him despite having the player you currently have as your QB. In other words, hypothetically, if we had the opportunity to go draft Bridgewater this year or an Andrew Luck-type QB were available, would you draft him or pass on him? To me, I think it is way to early with Foles to consider passing on that prospect.

    Having said that, don’t take that to mean I am taking anything away from Foles. I am extremely high on Foles and what he can do, but a season’s worth of play (even great play) is not enough for me to turn over the keys to franchise. Foles has done everything right so far to suggest that he CAN be a franchise QB, but sustained success has to be a component of that analysis and he simply hasn’t played long enough to be able to get that checked off the list of attributes necessary to be a franchise QB.

    • P_P_K

      For me, the answer is “probably,” so passing on a Luck is appropriate for now. Use the pick on another need.

    • Dave

      To most, hammered home even more so by the media, a “franchise quarterback” fits one of two molds:

      1. a high first-round draft pick with gaudy college stats and/or on a national powerhouse team with lots of media exposure (i.e., Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Peyton, Eli, etc.)

      2. A non high first-round quarterback who has a Super Bowl victory (i.e, Brady, Brees, Rothlisberger, etc.)

      Until Foles wins a super bowl, he will most-likely never be called a franchise quarterback by the media and masses. In my eyes, Russel Wilson and Foles are both franchise quarterbacks. Ironically, Matt Barkley may have been considered a franchise quarterback if he would have come out a year early.

      • TommyLawlor

        Good explanation.

        • Kent Caviness

          The odds of Foles being a Franchise QB – lets be honest here – is not great. I hope im wrong but I don’t think he will have as good a season next year… DC will have an entire season of film on him now and I can see Foles under pressure to repeat his unbeliveable int/TD ratio. Would the FO consider trading him in the offseason while his stock is high and take one of the higher mobile QB’s talents in the draft. I don’t necessarily believe Kelly’s offense needs a mobile QB to be effective, however I would say that I think Kelly’s offense could be better with a more mobile QB like Kap or Wilson…

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        Along those lines, a “franchise QB” in my mind is a QB that has received a mega-bucks/multi-year contract that clearly commits the team to him and results in him getting every possible break/pass in the world from the coaching staff. It neatly covers the two types Dave cites above.
        Alex Smith was a classic “franchise QB” with the Niners. Anyone want him over Foles?
        Myself, I’ll gladly take a Trent Dilfer if it results in a SB.

      • Joe Minx

        Where does someone like Flacco fit into that? 1st rounder, won a Super Bowl, though not from a college powerhouse.

        • Dave

          2. A non high first-round quarterback who has a Super Bowl victory. The key being he wasn’t a high first round pick a la Alex Smith who went #1 overall.

      • D3FB

        Rothlisberger was drafted 11th overall, but otherwise I agree.

    • Kent Caviness

      Here is the ultimate question in my mind – would Kelly trade Foles and our first round pick 22nd overall for Bridgewater or Mariota (if he came out)? Foles played had a great season however next year I highly doubt he plays as well (only 2 int won’t happen again). His value will never be higher than it is right now…

  • Iskar36

    Aside question about Foles:

    One of the things I had been extremely impressed with about Foles early in the season has been his ability to move around in the pocket. Over the last few weeks however, I have not noticed him maneuver around the pocket as well. Has anyone else noticed that? Have defenses been playing him differently to prevent that? Or am I just missing it when he has been moving around in the pocket?

    • SteveH

      Watching the Cowboys game live I had the impression that they were making things very tight for him, seemed like he was in a phone booth quite a bit but that’s just off my recollection, I didn’t feel like the OL did a great job of pass blocking at all that game.

      • Mac

        Do the Cowboys and Saints have similar players up front? Both teams seemed to have success against our O-line more often than I would have liked.

        • ICDogg

          To some extent the Saints were able to reproduce some of the more successful ways of defending the Eagles that Dallas used.

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        Yea, it was definitely a phone booth against the Cowboys.

  • RobNE

    Can the Eagles negotiate with and/or sign their own FA before the official FA period begins?

    • Eric Carranza

      I think so

    • TommyLawlor

      The Eagles can re-sign/negotiate with their own players.

      They can’t re-sign players who were brought here on 1-year deals. Those guys would have to hit the market for at least 1 minute before re-signing.

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        Does that include our new favorite player, Donnie “Boomer” Jones?

  • Insomniac

    According to BGN, Maclin is rumored to have already resigned with us.

    • ICDogg

      Seems unlikely. I think it’s probably a cultural divide… when Maclin says “Done deal”, it’s just his way of affirming he wants to come back, but someone will interpret it as if there was a deal already done.

  • P_P_K

    TLaw, in your discussion about the qualities that make a guy a franchise qb, I count nine players you reference as fitting the bill. Seems to be one conspicuous absence, and I wonder if it was intentional. Give you a hint, he wore #5 and his Mom made soup.

    • Mac

      His real mom or his made for t.v. mom?

    • TommyLawlor

      Left Donnie out intentionally. Didn’t want this to morph into an argument about him. McNabb was absolutely a franchise QB.

      • A_T_G

        Oh, McNabb. I was wondering how Billy, the son of the lady that runs the concession stand at our local U-12 soccer tournaments, fit into this conversation.

        But, really, you should try her ham and bean. THAT is a franchise soup.

      • P_P_K

        So you did leave him out on purpose. No soup for you!

  • SteveH

    I think Chip will do the same thing next year as he did this year, make it an open competition for the job, which I’m sure he will expect Nick to win but I wouldn’t put it past him to bench him if he doesn’t “win” the job.

    It is pretty absurd how harshly people judge Foles considering how young and inexperienced he is, and I think that’s directly related to the fact that he wasn’t a high draft pick, and doesn’t have sexy measurables (big arm, fast, big time college pedigree).

    I think Nick has defied peoples expectations of what he can be, so they’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop and confirm that he really doesn’t have what it takes to be “the man”.

    If we had drafted Geno Smith and he had put up the numbers Nick did this year, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, the only discussion we’d be having is how many super bowls he’s going to lead us to and what year he would be inducted into Canton. Make that double if Geno Smith had done what Nick did this year in New York. They might have just frozen him in carbonite and put him on display in Times Square this offseason.

    • BlindChow

      I don’t think next season will be an open competition at QB like this year. I think he’ll say outright that Foles is his starter. I think Foles’ performance will have earned him that, and I think Kelly will agree. Just a feeling I have.

      That might change if Foles is really awful, but I suspect the competition was a unique circumstance (Kelly’s first year, and the QB’s first year in his system), and won’t be handled the same way Kelly handled things with college kids (which seems to be the main reason people think there will be a competition next season).

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      The guy didn’t just “exceed expectations,” he had an absolutely amazing record-setting performance. Now, of course, you do want to make sure that isn’t some fluke before you hand him the keys to the franchise (i.e., a huge contract), but on the other hand, you’re not drafting his replacement and he’s not going into camp competing for his job. He IS next year’s QB, come hell or high water – he’s earned at least that much!

  • Cliff

    I’m glad you posted this one today. I got really frustrating watching ESPN this morning when they were talking about Andy Dalton and how Cincy needs to look for another QB… the “franchise” label is so relative and ambiguous!

    Cincy, for example, could draft a QB and spend the next few years building around a young QB and STILL not win a playoff game. What’s the point? I’m sure Kansas City fans are going to be hearing a lot more of the “Alex Smith debate” this off-season as well because of their playoff loss to Indy. It’s ridiculous.

    We have a good young QB in Nick Foles. Let’s ride this one as far as we can before we have to blow it up and start over.

    • SteveH

      I dunno man, Andy Dalton does not pass the eyeball test for me, has nothing to do with stats or measurables or anything but whenever I watch him play I never come away thinking he’s the guy who’s going to take you to the promised land. Just my take though.

      • P_P_K

        I know what you mean about Dalton and the eyeball test. When I apply it to Foles, he passes. What do you think about Nick?

        • SteveH

          Nick gets a passing grade from me too, and whats weird about that is I got that vibe from him way back when he was a rookie in preseason. There was just something about him that made me feel confident.

          Who knows though, I’m a big believer that anyone can win it all if you catch the right breaks on Sunday.

          • BirdGang

            The one thing I am worried about with Foles is next year. Does everyone remember after Eli’s 2nd ring some people were calling him ELITE. But if you ask those same people that exact question today they would say no. So what happens if he has a bad year next year? Do we give up on him?

        • A_T_G

          Personally, I have trouble getting a good look at his eyeballs with that haircut. Are we talking about the test with the flashlight to check for dilation?

      • BlindChow

        It’s because he’s a ginger, isn’t it? You could paint black stripes on his head and you’d never know if he had his helmet on or not.

      • Cliff

        But this is kind of what I mean – the “eye ball test.” That test changes depending on the set of eye balls.

        But even if we agree that a QB like Dalton will never be an “elite” QB, here’s the bigger problem – What’s the better option? Where would the Bengals find a better QB? How many seasons are you willing to throw away while you develop a mid-round QB to replace Dalton? Or how many draft picks are you willing to give up to trade up and draft a 1st-round QB?

        At what point does the cost of starting over at QB make sticking with your “non-elite” QB the better option?

  • Tumtum

    To the point of the weapons at Foles’ disposal: Maybe I am crazy, but I feel a bit down on the weapons. Yeah they are pretty good, but nothing real special. You can’t think of a team that made the playoffs with clear cut lower quality skill position players.

    Yes Riley Cooper was a nice surprise, but he was a far cry from consistent. Desean had a great year, but he was far to quiet at times of the season, and especially the last 3 games. No pass catcher screams consistent producer to me. They all seem like really good complimentary pieces to that one shiny center piece (Vjax, Graham, Dez, Fitz, Gordon, D. Thomas etc.).

    So yeah the offensive skill players are nice, but do they have what it takes to be a powerhouse offensively? I don’t really think so. Could Maclin become that guy? I think there is a chance, but at this point we don’t even know if we will have him. I look at Maclin and Pierre Garcon as comparable players. Maclin has been stunted by his sickness and the ACL, but the potential is there.

    • Andy124

      You can’t think of a team that made the playoffs with clear cut lower quality skill position players.
      Seattle, New England, Carolina, possibly San Diego.

      • Neil

        If we keep Maclin, I’d add GB.

      • Tom33

        I’d add Indy to this list.

        • Andy124

          And I think a case could be made for SF as well, but he did say “clear cut”.

          Point is, while we may not have the most devestating set of skill players in the league, the other teams in the playoffs aren’t exactly making us look like paupers there.

          • Tumtum

            I was more referring to someone to consistently be relied upon. The final piece to the puzzle if you will.

      • Tumtum

        SD is the only one I was wavering on.

        I personally think worlds of the Seattle skill positioners. SD arguably has 2 guys who could be considered consistent go-to guys. Of course I am also accounting for injured players of other teams… not so much Mac for us though because he isn’t signed beyond this year.

        Reasonable minds can disagree.

        • Andy124

          Reasonable minds can disagree.
          Yup. Obviously, I was more looking at the last sentence of your first paragraph.

  • BlindChow

    The weirdest thing about the QB discussion is the implication that there’s a time limit on labeling a guy a “franchise” player. Foles has played well enough to be the starter in 2014, and he’s not eligible to renegotiate his contract until next year. We’ll know a lot more about him by then. It just isn’t necessary to pin the franchise on him right now. He’s what we have, he’s been good, and theoretically he should only get better. If not, we draft a guy next year. What’s the big deal?

    • Tumtum

      Exactly. Pretty tough to get a clear cut franchise guy at 22. Really shouldn’t even be the suggestion. If Nick is able to keep us from being able to draft one, then he is going to find it easier to keep his job.

      • A_T_G

        Franchise QB at 22? Very tough.

        Franchise kicker? Money.

        Is it too soon to start the “Let’s make 2 and 2 equal 3 in the 1st” campaign?

        • Tumtum

          Yeah we low balled ourselves in the 4th..

        • Maggie

          Safety!!

    • TommyLawlor

      Good point, BC. There is no need to rush.

      That said, we’re obsessed with the Eagles and want to categorize everything. Patience is a virtue that many football fans and writers lack.

    • Iskar36

      Absolutely agree with this. Foles has played fantastic football and should be the unquestioned starter heading into 2014. 2015 will be determined at a later point. That’s when the discussion of franchise QB or not should start.

    • Byter

      The issue is “investment”. Before the latest CBA, 1st round (and even high 2nd round QBs) command a significant investment from the team, and thus, the teams were “forced” to let the QB develop (or not). Late round QBs then, and now, almost any QB doesn’t get that luxury because the teams won’t feel the financial loss if they cut him. It will now take a strong FO and coaching staff to let a QB develop for 3, 4, 5 years.

  • Tumtum

    I might be an outlier but I was pretty pleased with Barkley. He gets a pass from me for some of the bad. Despite the game situations I never hear mentioned how in his first game he was given 3rd team reps all week, 2nd for the other. He pretty much took 3rd team reps all season. If what they say is true and coming into a game off of 2nd team reps is a big set back then I have to imagine 3rd team reps is pretty freaking bad.

    • BlindChow

      Yeah, it’s definitely too soon to write him off. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does next preseason. I bet he’s really hoping Vick gets signed somewhere else, though…

      • Mr. Magee

        Maybe Chip lets Vick go just so Barkley can further develop?

    • Mac

      I actually liked Barkley a lot. I know the results don’t match my opinion, but he has the look of a guy who is determined to figure this thing out. He looks confident, doesn’t laugh off his own bad plays, and appears to have the skills necessary to play the position. I think the whole thing hinges on the question of whether he can transition to the NFL game or not.

    • GENETiC-FREAK

      Yeah liked Barkley.. Got some zip on his throws! N not afraid to pull the trigger which could be a bad or good thing

  • ICDogg

    A franchise QB is a subjective evaluation on whether you think a QB is worth giving a huge long term contract to. And it only needs to be answered when it is time to sign him to such a contract.

    To ask whether Foles is a franchise QB this year is therefore pointless. It is enough to know that he is the starting QB for 2014 and that personnel decisions this offseason will be based on that premise.

    • TommyLawlor

      You need another 1,000 words for me to take this opinion seriously. Way too concise. :)

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      You’ll never be a sports talk show host – way too logical!

  • ojdiddoit

    27-2 and 118 qb rating along with Kellys endorsement are about as close to franchise as your going to get

  • jackpotsdad

    I’d love to see a return to the very uptempo offense we saw with Foles in the preseason. Lots of crisp, short passes and snapping the ball every 15 seconds. After you series of that you saw teams completely gassed.

    While I don’t think Chip will fully go back to that, I’m predicting that the super tempo strategy may be something he’ll do once the team is more comfortable with his system and he has the personnel for it. Right now, I think there are concerns that going super tempo exposes the defense much more than necessary.

    Those preseason series, and the pace that Vick ran in the first game of the season utterly wowed me.

    • Jernst

      Agreed. I always wondered what the precise reasoning was for going to a more conventional attack. Whether it was offensive or defensive fatigue or some other strategic component, I think ultimately, Chip wants to overcome whatever the reason was for the switch and run an up tempo team. We were told all year that the one thing that Chips offense was, was up tempo. I’d be willing to bet that the product we see next year with an off season to really install that system, will be much more up tempo than we saw this year.

      • Clamdigger

        Actually he said all year that the tempo was just a tool in their toolbox.

  • bdbd20

    Hey Tommy,

    What’s your take on the Dalton situation? Is it past the point of saving?

    That team sure does have a lot of talent. A good QB and they might be scary.

  • ICDogg

    Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to stay at Oregon for senior season

  • shah8

    Oh, *had* to respond before I finished reading. Foles was nowhere NEAR as sloppy post Minnesota as he was WAS-DET. Don’t let the yardage and TDs fool you. Now back to reading the rest of this post.

    • shah8

      Going back up the post. One of Peyton Manning’s signature issues is that he likes to run that simple and flexible offense. It works well in the regular season, but like how Reid was towards the end of the tenure here, it gets stale in the postseason, with the DC doing the equivalent of L. Frazier’s CB/S blitz exotic stuff.

      Watched the Aaron Rodgers Kurt Warner shootout. Rodgers was really good in that game, and much better than Foles on Sat. However, there was no defense being played.

      Don’t remember Brees, but Luck really did get eaten alive in a way that Wilson, Kaepernick, and RGIII (as long as he lasted) did not. Luck does seem to have a bit of trouble seeing the field against better defenses.

      • shah8

        Going down further, I have to respectfully disagree with Tommy about whether Foles is a system QB and whether he can lead you to the Super Bowl.

        1) First of all, to my eyes, it seems apparent that Foles is not a good fit for Kelly’s offense, because in my eyes, Kelly’s offense gets the opportunities in its spread aspect effectively by sacrificing flexibility. College teams utilize major league spread concepts because they don’t have a choice. And then they hit a brick wall against any other talented and disciplined team. In the NFL, *every* team is talented, and most of them are disciplined. Lions and Raiders being who they are, stick out for exactly this reason. Anyways, as such, the ability for the QB to be a real rushing threat is key in this sort of offense at the NFL level. Most plays, more than in more standard offenses, are strongly based on that first or second read, because the entire offense works towards that one play, like the botched screen to Celek in the playoff game, or the botched leak effort by McCoy leaving Foles to take a sack at the end of the Dallas game. These plays have real risks of failures and there are no alternative *but* to run. Having Foles more or less means that Kelly is committed to consistently outwitting DCs and defensive players on the field in a way not true of a situation with a QB that can truly run. Thus, Foles has to contribute to a greater degree in the passing game for the naturally higher level of big sacks. The number of short and unproductive series throughout Foles’ tenure is a major question mark, here.

        2) Second, whether he can lead you to the Super Bowl? No, I think that’s a pretty definite no for me. Look, here’s the thing. You saw Kaepernick, Rodgers, Luck leading by willing their teams to victory, or their very best, even when things are going wrong. You see Andy Dalton and Alex Smith fold like cheap suits whenever things stop going right for them. You saw Drew Brees grind through a bad day for himself. The issue isn’t whether Foles can make this pass or that pass. The issue is whether Foles can make *plays*. The vast majority of teams with QB that can’t make *plays* exit quickly in the playoffs. The few that make it to the superbowl, have made it on the back of extreme defenses–The winners had historic defenses. The losers had great defenses and great run games (Bears, Seahawks, Panthers over the last ten years). Foles has to be able to be successful when the play goes off-script. That’s what pushes QB beyond “system QB” label. Brady is not a system QB, not because he isn’t in a system, but because when things go wrong, he can ad hoc successfully, unless he’s hit with interior pass rush.

        • shah8

          On the comparison to Dalton specifically, remember, that a significant fraction of Foles longer TD throws were bad balls, even if they were intentionally so. Don’t care what people say, throwing along the goal line for Cooper to track laterally, instead of over the top, is NOT what you’re supposed to do. Much of the rest were on busted coverage plays or very short goal area passes. He did stop doing those passes after the INT at Min, but he’s still getting TD passes, though.

          • shah8

            I sort of like Barkley, and always have liked him better than Foles, but, well, you know…He looked like Geno Smith at his worst out there. He’ll take the same amount of time for seasoning, and be bad while getting his act together, without the requisite hope for good ceiling. Thus, his position is definitely in jeopardy at some point. He probably has next year, but might not even make it then, if Kelly brings in someone else.

          • shah8

            As for Vick, he’ll have the same political problems where ever he goes. So I’m going to have to shrug.

          • GENETiC-FREAK

            In depth analysis you have there lol So what do you think Foles needs to improve on to be the Franchise QB? Or would you prefer someone else?

          • shah8

            Well, I don’t Foles has the talent. I don’t think of him as being as naturally talented as Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, or Andy Dalton. So in a sense, I don’t think he can improve enough to be worthwhile. Improving enough to be worthwhile…I’d like him to be a better passer intermediate-deep to the outside. I’d also like him to be faster and more situationally aware in terms of moving to a potentially open guy (or if he’s seeing them, then I want him to pull the trigger–to a point, low INT points to an issue, and is not a success).

          • mksp

            I’d agree that I’d like to see Nick take more chances. And I think he will next year, particularly as he works on his arm strength, which improved tremendously from his rookie year his 2nd year.

            You’re gonna go on a ride with him next year either way, might as well buckle up and enjoy it.

            Andy Dalton is not as talented as Nick. Sorry. Not even “naturally”. He threw more ducks on Sunday than Nick has all year. If Nick had AJ Green to throw to we’d be talking about how crazy it was that he threw 40 TDs in 10 games.

          • BlindChow

            Dalton is 1 TD to 6 INT in the playoffs. And his first TD came Sunday. That is crazy.

          • shah8

            To mksp, BlindChow…Dalton however, is running a full offense at QB, and he was a lot better at it in the regular season than Foles was when Foles was in Morninwheg’s system. Geno Smith has had higher highs as a rookie, playing with less talent than the 2012 Eagles offense, in Morninwheg’s system. Of course, full season compared to six games, but there were early season successes as well as his good finish.

            When the QB really has the hands on the wheel, it’s a lot more obvious when he’s having a bad day, as oppose to run the play if it’s there, and hold if it’s not.

        • BlindChow

          Only a fool draws a conclusion about a QB based on his first 16 games.

          Those other QB’s you mentioned? Only Kaepernick got his team to a Super Bowl, and he was helped immeasurably by a great defense and great power running game.

          • shah8

            Kap makes plays though. Showed that pretty much straight from after the St Louis game he took over for Smith. Without Kap making plays, and Smith certainly cannot make any of the plays Kap can, passing or running, the 49′ers would not have made it to the big dance. One marked improvement was the fact that Kap passes to WRs and not almost exclusively TE and RBs.

          • mksp

            Said it on the other thread, but seriously, Kap was lucky he won that game, bc he threw a pick-6 that was dropped early into the game-winning drive.

            I guess great playmakers get lucky too, but if that ball is caught, doesn’t your narrative change?

          • shah8

            To a degree, every QB is lucky. Foles, for example, has had a considerable amount of luck.

            The good ones do stuff with it. At the end of the day, Kap took his good luck, and ran with it.

          • mksp

            Nick got the Eagles up a point with 5 minutes left after being down 20-7 without throwing a ball straight into a defender’s hands.

            Just saying the narrative is that Kap put the team on his back and made plays to win the game. But he could have, and should have, just as easily lost the game with a poor decision that, for all his lack of “talent”, Nick never would have made.

          • shah8

            Flip side: Kap would have *never* had the number of three and outs (neither would Vick) that Foles had up until NO’s best CB being concussed. Kap ran the offense successfully, had an int, a near int, and a chance for an int, but he got points, and always immediately responded to GB’s scores in the game. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Foles’ TD made it a TD lead rather than a one point lead? Certainly, some credit does accrue for the comeback, but like Luck, Foles made that comeback necessary.

          • mksp

            I mean, maybe. I don’t think the GB defense is in the same league as the saints, and stats probably bear that out.

            Nick needs his team to do their job more than Kap does. I’ll concede this point, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Getting the ball in your playmakers hands is superior long term strategy.

            Football’s a tough game, and comes down to some funny bounces sometimes. We’re having a totally different conversation if Riley cooper doesn’t drop that 3rd and 4 pass and/or Kap’s pick-6 is caught.

          • xeynon

            Bulls**t. Without Kyle Williams muffing two punts, the 49ers would’ve made the big dance a year earlier, before Kaepernick even got off the bench.

            I don’t have a problem with you having your own opinions, but you keep backing them up with questionable assumptions and “evidence” that just isn’t true.

        • mksp

          I gave Derek a hard time earlier this year for being hard on Nick, but it seems like he’s come around a bit, and I think makes an important point here:

          Derek / IgglesBlog ‏@igglesblog20h
          @Jeff_McLane Thing is, all those people were wrong this year. Maybe he’s just a really game smart guy who doesn’t fit the mold.

          ___________________

          Its really hard to comp Nick to another QB. And I think those of us who doubt him (I still do, to an extent) are having hard time figuring out what to make of him.

          But he’s clearly smart, he *usually* makes good decisions with the ball, he hasn’t made many mistakes, and his arm is good enough and he throws downfield enough to avoid the label of “game manager.”

          I think he is definitely a product of a system. But its a good system, and he could be the right guy for *this* system.

        • pjxii

          All this time I never realized that shah8 is really you, M0rton!

        • RobNE

          Are we able to trade for Kaep, Rodgers or Luck? Brady? Heck no. So what is the point? yes I would make those trades. So what. We can’t have a super elite player at every position. What would you do now?

          I’ve asked this to you before, I know, it’s just that whatever, you may be close to the truth, but if you are wrong it’s a BIG deal b/c QB assets are very hard to accumulate and if you might, just might, have someone that you can win with you try. As someone up top said, you can’t just decide you want an elite QB instead. There’s so few.

          What “play” did Drew Brees make? none. He handed the ball off, and threw 2 bad INT’s. So maybe not your best example for that game?

        • livingonapear

          So….what separates the Nick Foles that made enough plays to win from the Nick Foles that didn’t make enough plays? Both versions put the Eagles in the lead with a td pass. There is no difference except a busted special teams play, and poor run defense.

          The distinctions you make are completely arbitrary. How is Nick Foles success against a backup CB any different from Luck’s success after Flowers (Edit: Called him Carr at first) went down? How did Alex Smith not make plays and end up with 40+ points? You bring up a very fair point about Foles’ 3 and outs (a McNabb problem), but how are his struggles a sign of weakness, but Luck’s struggles with throwing the ball to the other team a sign of leadership?

          Your logic is just a wordier, slightly more nuanced version of “He just wins, baby!”

          • xeynon

            So….what separates the Nick Foles that made enough plays to win from
            the Nick Foles that didn’t make enough plays? Both versions put the
            Eagles in the lead with a td pass.

            A truly talented quarterback like Colin Kaepernick or Andrew Luck would’ve convinced the coach to put him in on defense, blown up a double team and stuffed that Khiry Robinson run, and strip-sacked Brees on third down and run the ball back for a touchdown to seal the victory. Foles clearly doesn’t have what it takes.

  • eagleyankfan

    Great read. Congrats on a great season to Foles. That makes this off season great. No head Coach search to worry about. No concerns on who the starter at QB will be. We can just lean back and watch this team get torn down and rebuilt in other areas. Sweet!!!

  • Vick or Nick

    “The Philadelphia Eagles are a franchise, and Nick is our QB”

    Period.

    • TommyLawlor

      Chip is a funny guy.

    • Maggie

      For a few moments, though, I did envy Indianapolis.

  • Maggie

    While I enjoy Tommy’s logical dissection of the game and participants, I cannot bring myself to contribute to a site which sells human beings for money. Think about it.

  • kajomo

    A franchise QB is one who a will be the guy for the forseeable future and the team can build around. This is a player you can win a superbowl with. Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan all fall into this category. Nick Foles does as well.

    An elite QB is a guy that will have his team in the playoffs and a favorite to go to the superbowl pretty much every year regardless of the talent around them. This guy make everyone around him better. Peyton, Brady, Brees, Rodgers fall in this category. The only young QB I see as a lock here is Luck. Foles has a chance, but it will take a lot of improvement.

    Everyone wants an Elite guy, but you dont spend a lot of resources trying to upgrade over a Franchise guy. Foles is our guy. We need to build around him.

    • xeynon

      Very well put distinction.

      Sometimes franchise guys make the leap to elite, as well – none of Brady, Brees, or Rodgers was elite for their first few seasons in the league.

  • dislikedisqus

    Great post. Impressive research.

  • GEAGLE

    Tom…you know I have respected and have been blown away by the quality of your work for a while. But this right here was an INSTANT CLASSIC! Spectacular work, much appreciated as always….

  • RobNE

    If I were an NFL team like the Redskins, I would hire Auburn’s coach this year. I can’g believe FSU was a 9 point favorite over an SEC team. I am kicking myself for not betting on this game.

    Who would be better than Gus? some current NFL assistant? no thanks

  • xeynon

    We’re not getting a Luck-style near-sure thing prospect with the #22 pick, so staying with Foles and seeing how he does with an entire year as the #1 guy (and with an entire year of defenses scheming to exploit his weaknesses and forcing him to demonstrate he can overcome them) is any easy call. As you say, we don’t have to make a big financial commitment to him for at least another year, so we’re in the catbird seat right now. Continue to evaluate and use this draft to address other weaknesses. I doubt Foles will backslide, but if he does, next year’s QB class also looks to be strong with Mariota, Winston, Hundley, etc.

    We have to consider the fact that the results of Foles’ first 16 NFL starts, which were made under less than ideal circumstances to be sure, were more than just good – they were astoundingly so. He not only put up aggregate numbers that would be good for a veteran quarterback playing in a stable offense, he improved his weaknesses markedly from year 1 to year 2. His decision making, ability to manipulate the defense with his eyes and ball fakes, and accuracy on the deep ball were all much better this season. He’s never going to have Luck’s arm strength or Kaepernick’s mobility but he looks like one of those guys who might be so good at the mental and skill-based aspects of the position that he can overcome physical limitations, a la Brady, Warner, or Brees. In short, he’s not a proven star yet but I think there’s reason to be very optimistic.

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  • austinfan

    Foles is a game manager, in the same sense that Brady was a game manager until 2004 and Peyton was a game manager when he came back from injury. For some reason people see that as the “kiss of death”, rather, it simply describes a smart QB with more limited physical skills who uses craft to run the offense instead of firing at will. There are mediocre game managers and mediocre “gunslingers.” A top game manager in the right scheme can be very effective and rack up rings with a good defense, Favre only has one ring, and that required Levens and a great defense.

    Foles is smart and a hard worker, so he can get better, I mean how many QBs excelled their first 16 starts? He’s never going to have a gun, but his arm is strong enough to make almost all the throws, and face it, how many deep outs do you throw a season? He needs to improve his recognition, polish his mechanics, especially his release, and generally just speed up his game a notch. But after a full season of play, including a bad team with a worse OL in 2012, and a new scheme coming in cold in 2013, he’s put up numbers that are simply unlikely to be a fluke – they’re just too good. And it’s not like he has a Megatron or Gronkowski to inflate his numbers, his best receiver is a midget, he’s had skill people in and out of the lineup, so while he has good talent surrounding him, they’re not carrying him.

    I think we can say Foles is a top 10 QB right now, heads and shoulders above Dalton and most of the other QBs drafted the last three years. Whether he can take the next step to elite status probably depends on him mastering subtle nuances, when to take chances, understanding defenses and how to beat them, perfecting his pump fake and use of the eyes to fool safeties, and so on. He may throw double digit interceptions next year as he tests the bounds of his talent, but I think he’ll always have a great TD/Int ratio because he understands the importance of protecting the football (and why Stafford will always be a marginal top 10 QB).

    People get excited by arm strength and athleticism, but of the top QBs, only Rodgers qualifies in that regard, Peyton, Brady and Brees simply aren’t special in any area but between the ears.

    • Neil

      There were times when Foles made some really impressive lasertype throws. Not lasers like Kaepernick, but a deep post TD to Ertz sticks out in my mind. His arm strength seems to be about on a Tom Brady level when he has his mechanics, but he isn’t nearly consistent enough there yet. Strangely, his velocity seems more consistent when he’s throwing on the move to his right to me.