Red Hot in the Red Zone

Posted: July 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

One of the things that Nick Foles did so well in 2013 was executing in the Red Zone. Any Eagles fan can tell you that was a frustrating place in recent years. Many a drive stalled in scoring territory, leading to short field goals for David Akers and Alex Henery.

That changed last year. Foles played brilliantly in the Red Zone. Check out these stats:

26 – 37 – 197 … with 16 TDs and no INTs … completed 70 percent of his throws…rating of 122.4

That is truly outstanding. Michael Vick wasn’t nearly as good. He was 5 for 19 with 1 TD. Even his magical season of 2010 wasn’t as good in the Red Zone as Foles last year.

38 – 68 – 190…with 13 TDs and 1 INT … completed 55.9 percent of his throws…rating of 94.6

I think Kelly’s offense helped. He ran a lot of crossing routes, which are very difficult to defend because there are so many bodies in such a tight space. The congestion makes it difficult to play tight man coverage. Reid tended to spread things out and try to get the ball to a playmaker quickly. I always thought he made the mistake of using the flats instead of getting the ball into the end zone itself.

But let’s not ignore Foles here. He made a huge difference for a few reasons. First, accuracy. Foles can be a precise passer. He throws the ball with good touch, but also some velocity. Foles is mechanically sound and that means he is able to repeat throws over and over. He’s not improvising in the Red Zone. Foles can put the ball where he wants. We’ve seen him throw fades. We’ve seen him throw an arcing pass over a defender to a receiver. We’ve seen him hit receivers running crossing routes along the back line. And he also gets the ball to his guys when they are wide open on play-action passes where the fakes work.

Foles also doesn’t need players to be open. He is willing to throw the ball to a covered receiver. Too often Donovan McNabb and Vick needed someone to be wide open. That doesn’t happen on a regular basis in the Red Zone. There are a lot of contested passes there because of the congestion. The key here is that Foles isn’t forcing the ball to a covered player. He sees someone that is covered, but where there is an angle to work with. Foles will then put the ball into a safe spot and give his receiver a chance to make the play. This is especially important when throwing to big WRs and TEs. You want to take advantage of their size. Give them a chance to make plays for you.

The final point to make about Foles in the Red Zone is that he anticipates throws. This ties in to the last point about not needing players to be open. Foles watches a play unfold and knows where to put the ball before the receiver comes open. You cannot react in the Red Zone. There isn’t enough space and time to play like that. You must be proactive. You must anticipate which receiver will come open and be ready to pull the trigger instantly.

There were some plays where Foles moved around and bought time for his receivers to get open. Vick and McNabb were very good at this as well. If you don’t have anything initially, move around and keep the play alive. Someone should come open if you can give them a couple of extra seconds to shake free. Foles also proved adept at throwing on the move. He has been good at this since his first Eagles practices under Reid.

I don’t think Foles play in the Red Zone was a fluke. His numbers might not be quite as good this year, but I still think he will be a very good Red Zone QB. That situation fits his skill set well.

* * * * *

Chip Wagon took a look at one particular Red Zone play that they liked and broke it down. Terrific throw by Foles on a play that was ignored for far too long.


32 Comments on “Red Hot in the Red Zone”

  1. 1 tball_man said at 12:03 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    yep, yep. Good synopsis.
    The most enticing aspect of our 6’6″ QB is his anticipation. Less roll outs too!

  2. 2 Insomniac said at 1:48 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    I’m going to be a bit off-topic but wow…does anyone realize how much talent there is at WR in the league right now?

    You have the old guys in Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackon, Wes Welker and Fitz
    The beasts in Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall and Megatron.
    The smooth operators AJ Green, Reggie Wayne, Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Jordy Nelson, and Antonio Brown.
    The explosive midgets a.k.a Desean, Randall Cobb, Pervy Harvin, Tavon Austin, and Brandin Cooks.

    Of course there’s guys like Pierre Garcon and etc but wonder it’s becoming a passing league.

  3. 3 Ben Hert said at 2:07 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Saw the Top 10 NFL rankings last night. A.J. Green the second best receiver in the NFL? How do we feel about this? Am I biased because he has Dalton throwing to him? I dunno, feels like several WR ahead of him. But then again, who spends the time to watch a Bengals game.

  4. 4 Insomniac said at 2:17 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    He’s definitely top 5 but second is a bit too high for me.

    My rankings would be

    Josh Gordon
    Demaryius Thomas
    Julio Jones
    AJ Green

    If Justin Blackmon ever reaches his potential then wow..the list goes on too.

  5. 5 jpate said at 3:19 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Josh Gordon is better but obviously anyone will take AJ Green over him. Jones and Green seem like similar players but I’ll take Green who does with Dalton as QB and without a Roddy white on the other side.

  6. 6 Insomniac said at 5:41 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    AJ has a great receiving core behind him now. Roddy White had a bad year but seems like he’s losing a step now. Julio was dominating before he got injured this year. I just think he has a higher ceiling because he’s a freak of nature.

  7. 7 GEAGLE said at 7:10 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Brandon Marshall
    Jordy Nelson
    Andre J

  8. 8 anon said at 8:52 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    I sort of think Jordy is a better version of Riley. I remember playing fantasy 2 years ago and him just languishing on waivers

  9. 9 Insomniac said at 12:27 AM on July 11th, 2014:

    Jordy isn’t top 10. Rodgers made some dude that ran a 4.7 look good against us.

  10. 10 mtn_green said at 3:43 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Rule changes benefit the wr. Many of these wr would not have big stats if they allowed more contact. That being said last years draft was monstrous, I predict at least 5 wr will end up in HOF, eventually.

  11. 11 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 3:06 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Don’t know if I can quantify it, but I think Foles’ height helps a lot, too. harder to block the passing lanes than it was for McNabb and especially Vick.

  12. 12 mtn_green said at 3:41 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Like two giants playing monkey in the middle. (Future chip quote)

    I do think height helps with anticipation, his height helps him know more about where the safety is, which way the db is leaning. Also the receivers got good at running the high traffic crossing routes, and get that natural pick. Foles threw a beautiful fade to Ertz too and he one handed it. No defense can defend against fades.

    Jordan Matthews highlights are filled with over the shoulder grabs which are indefensible too. Hopefully it translates to NFL.

  13. 13 Jon said at 2:47 PM on July 11th, 2014:

    I think you can. You have a 6-3 to 6-5 OL in front of you with a slight bend. So roughly they are about 6 foot in height and you have Vick at 6 foot, its almost like a concert with everyone standing in front of you on an equal level, you won’t see. The 6 inches I think make a huge difference in seeing over top of them.

  14. 14 Ark87 said at 6:25 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Shout out to the Eagles Podcast with Harold Carmichael as the guest. Too young to have seen him play, but I wish I had. What a classy dude, all time Eagle’s great and he’s stayed in the area ever since. I think he’s launched himself up my all time favorite Eagles list.

    Can we get a petition going to get this guy into the hall? He’s so humble and tucks himself away from the spotlight, somebody needs to make some noise for him.

  15. 15 ACViking said at 7:31 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    No one — not Jerry Rice or Charley Taylor or Calvin Johnson — ever ran the WR screen better than Harold Carmichael. Ever.

    And Carmichael put fear in the safeties when he ran deep crossing routes. Not the other way around. Extremely hard to tackle. Big, physical, deceptively fast — especially after 3-4 steps.

    But his career profile — ’71-’84 — suffered from being on some dreadful teams, except for the Vermeil playoff years of ’78-’81 when the Eagles were very much a running team.

    Only finished in the Top 10 in receptions twice, when Gabriel was the Birds’ QB in ’73-’74. The days of the “The Fire High Gang” with the 6’8″ Carmichael, 6’4″ TE Charlie Young, and WR Don Zimmerman . . . the shortest of the three at 6’3.

    And during the ’70s, the guys getting the ink were Warfield, Charley Taylor, Swann and Stallworth, Charlie Joiner, James Lofton, Bilitnikoff, and Steve Largent. All HOFers.

    I asked the HOF question of Ray Didinger. The answer came back, “Hall of Very Good.” But Carmichael was dominant in his own right.

  16. 16 Ark87 said at 7:41 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Great stuff, thanks for the response. What do you think, do you agree with Ray?

  17. 17 Ark87 said at 6:30 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    That was my favorite part about this offense. It had a swagger about it. When it got into the redzone, it scored points. This was especially satisfying coming off of turnovers. Kickers scored entirely too many points in the past.

  18. 18 GEAGLE said at 7:04 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    So true.. Pears of having no confidence in our Redzone trips it’s so amazing to have a coach that views kicking field goals as a 5yr old being forced to eat Brussel sprouts, and a big, tall, accurate, gun slinging SOB like the rain maker!…
    All this talk about can’t possibly have a year like last year…I think we will all be surprised. I don’t think the coach and QB are ok with regression. dudes are Commited to working on being better. I don’t care that we are facing tougher teams, because those teams will see a tougher Eagles team…
    This year should be glorious… After FOles goes into lucks house week two and out guns him, FOles will be accepted nationally as the BOSS we know him to be and the rest of the year will be the Chip n FOles show….I heard a discussion about who are the best “triplets” in sports.,,after this season,’FOles, shady and Chip!

  19. 19 Ark87 said at 7:12 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    On that last paragraph. A lot of folks are stressing playing the NFC West this year. I’m so damned excited. The NFC West is going to obliterate the rest of the NFC East, for us it’s a chance to show our stuff against the best damn defenses in the league! Foles and will get the chance to eliminate the doubters once and for all and be placed in the elite circles.

  20. 20 GEAGLE said at 8:36 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Damn Right brother, playing the NFC West is an OPPORTUNITY!!!! Our HC has beaten the coaches of both the Niners and seabags.. I can’t wait to play those teams…tell you the truth, I fear the rams game more then the other NFC West teams.. Might Robert Quinn might the best player in that entire division..Jason peters needs to earn his hall of Fame induction in week 5… Rams are scrappy and overlooked, where as I know,we will be jacked up to play the Niners and Seahawks… love this years schedule..we are equipped to steal a game or two, the other teams in our division can’t handle the West on their schedule

  21. 21 anon said at 8:39 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    they were sneaky good last year when they ran the ball.

  22. 22 GEAGLE said at 8:41 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Yup…and they just had a scary friggin draft.. Greg Robinson a Lane type of LT, Aaron Donald added to that DL is scary…Lamarcus Joyner and then tre Mason is prob a RB upgrade… If Sam Bradford doesn’t suck, they could have a nice squad in a year or two

  23. 23 Dominik said at 6:07 AM on July 11th, 2014:

    If Sam Bradford doesn’t suck, they could have a nice squad in a year or two

    That’s a big if. To their defense, the last two QB classes sucked (as far as you can tell now, it’s damn early, but no one SEEMS like an elite talent at the moment). But they are building a good, young corps of players – especially in the trenches. I’m not sold on their skill players besides Austin and Cook.

    The D could win them 7 or 8 games. Even if Bradford sucks, they would be out of the equation for a high pick. On the other hand, they are equipped to sell the house in next years draft. Their D basically needs no help. They maybe need a WR, but other than that, they could go after a QB if they want to.

  24. 24 Andy124 said at 7:27 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Yeah, as long as we skip the wildcat crap in the redzone.

  25. 25 Tikkit said at 9:55 AM on July 11th, 2014:

    Forever skip that. That was AR garbage at its finest.

  26. 26 Baloophi said at 10:33 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Yeah, in the Andy Reid twilight years (“there’s your movie!”) I used to cringe when we’d have a long play but get pushed out at the 5 and not score. You just knew it’d be a struggle to get points and the most likely outcome would be a FG.

    Roll out pass – Incomplete
    Shovel pass – Stopped for no gain
    Roll out pass – Incomplete

  27. 27 Ark87 said at 7:20 AM on July 11th, 2014:

    Towards the end I just wanted them to go ahead and kick the field goal. Skip the pick 6 and just trot Henery out there please!

  28. 28 GEAGLE said at 6:51 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    Yes or No?
    Eagles decide they don’t want to lose Travis Long for one year rental of Brandon Graham, so instead of cutting BG, he is traded to the browns, along with Jeff Maehl and a 7th round pick for the rights to Josh Gordon? Lol

    Lurie loves them redemption projects, or did the redemption move to KC with Andy? Gordon is the ultimate knucklehead and in serious jeapordy of never playing another NFL game again, and Chip is all about that good team culture, HOWEVER Josh is a rare Boderline Calvin Johnson type talent. If he is ever allowed to play again, by then we should have a strong veteran homegrown locker room that can take chances on a questionable rare talent. And if he is ever allowed to play, he will have had to prove to be rehabilitated and mature, so we would be getting a Josh Gordon who would be desperate to walk the straight and narrow to salvage what’s left of his career…..

    Maehl and BG prob don’t make the team. Why not take a low risk, super high reward investment? Howie should be calling the browns seeing if he can take advantage of them and pry Gordon away..and if we ever see Josh terrorize NFL defenses again, it will be in midnight green,,if he is too dumb to get it together, so what we didn’t lose much…

  29. 29 Ark87 said at 7:16 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    In a heart beat, yes. Don’t know if Chip would though. From what I’ve seen of Gordon, he seems like a pretty good dude, just a bit too attached to having a good time.

  30. 30 anon said at 8:37 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    how much would you pay for andre johnson?

  31. 31 GEAGLE said at 8:39 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    4th… Gave up a 5th for Sproles..Dre will be a top WR for ATleast two more seasons… Make that type of an addition than you go into Super Bowl or bust mode instead of “building”

  32. 32 anon said at 8:43 PM on July 10th, 2014:

    I enjoy the occasions in which we agree. Did we already trade the conditional 4th we got for BB?

    That said Johnson might be too much, the offense would be literally unstoppable. He’s the perfect vet, soft spoken, hard working producer.