Foles Review: Breaking Down the QB’s Performance

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.With 7:41 left in the second quarter, rookie Nick Foles jogged on to the field at the Linc and received a loud ovation from the fans.

Those in attendance, and many more watching on TV, had seen a season that began with such promise go right down the drain. After a Giants loss earlier in the day, perhaps the rookie could provide a ray of hope, a reason to keep tuning in the rest of the way.

What they got instead was the Eagles’ fifth straight loss. And from Foles, the kind of performance you’d expect from a rookie quarterback. Some impressive throws that showed why Andy Reid and Howie Roseman wanted to take him in the third round. And lots to improve on in the coming weeks, months and years.

It looks like Foles will get his first career start Sunday. He’ll have a full week to get reps as the No. 1 guy and benefit from a game-plan suited to fit his strengths. But for now, let’s take a look at how he did against the Cowboys, starting with a breakdown of his throws by distance. Short throws are 5 yards or less. Middle throws are 6 to 15 yards. Deep throws are 16 to 25. And Bombs are anything over 25.


As you can see, the Eagles tried to keep things simple for the rookie – for the most part. The truth is, given the issues in pass protection all season, Vick likely would have been working the short and intermediate routes all day also. Foles threw a lot of screens and check-downs, going 16-for-16 on throws 5 yards or less.

The intermediate game wasn’t as effective, as he completed just five of 12 passes between 6 and 15 yards.

The Deep and Bomb throws are a bit deceiving. He actually attempted three Deep throws, but there were penalties on two of them. The lone Bomb was the 44-yard completion to a wide-open Jeremy Maclin in the end zone.


Foles completed 22 of 32 passes, but he spiked one and threw another away, so really it was 22 of 30, or 73.3 percent. That’s a great number, but as I mentioned above, there were quite a few screens and check-downs.

Foles got unlucky on a couple throws too. He hit Jason Avant in the helmet on the play where the wide receiver injured his hamstring. And it appeared that Maclin didn’t finish his route on a slant in the third. In the fourth, Foles was nearly picked off when Maclin slipped coming out of his break.

Foles was off-target on the interception that bounced off of DeSean Jackson’s hands.

You can see the throw was behind him. Actually, Foles missed on an earlier slant to Jackson, but the wide receiver made a really nice catch.

Maclin bailed him out on this throw too. You can see he’s expecting the ball towards the sideline.

But instead, Foles turns him around.

Again, this was Foles’ first NFL action. It’d be foolish to try to place labels on him after 32 passes, but for now, we’re just trying to sort through what we saw on Sunday.


We’ll probably get a better idea for how to evaluate him in this category once the All-22 is released. The interception above was not a bad decision, simply a bad throw.

On a different play, Foles had pressure in his face right away and tried to hit LeSean McCoy in the flat. Anthony Spencer was there for the interception, but the Cowboys were flagged away from the ball.

Foles’ worst decision of the day came when the pocket collapsed and he rolled to his right. Instead of throwing it away, he threw a jumpball across his body into the middle of the field. Maclin came down with it, but that’s the kind of throw he needs to remove from his repertoire immediately.

Earlier in the game, it seemed like Foles determined pre-snap  that he was going to Stanley Havili. That was a bad move as he was nearly picked off by Orlando Scandrick.

It seemed clear throughout that Foles was going to be decisive and get rid of the ball quickly. Sometimes that led to dangerous throws. But he never seemed hesitant.


Going back to the preseason, Foles has looked a little more mobile than advertised. And he’s shown the ability to keep his eyes downfield when he scrambles. We saw that Sunday on the 44-yard bomb to Maclin, who was standing by himself in the end zone. The truth is, Foles was probably late with the pass, but he still recognized it and got Maclin the ball. Late in the game, he escaped pressure and made an outstanding throw on the move to Damaris Johnson for 12 yards in the red zone, but King Dunlap was called for a penalty. And Foles bought time before hitting Johnson for what turned out to be a 32-yard gain.

He also looks like he can take a hit. Foles stood in and delivered the ball to Clay Harbor right before taking a big hit from DeMarcus Ware in the second.

No questions about arm strength.Brent Celekfound a hole in the Cowboys’ zone, and Foles delivered a bullet for a 14-yard gain in the fourth.

Rob Ryan only blitzed Foles five times. He was 4-for-5 for 28 yards on those throws.

Like I said at the start, overall, a mixed bag of positives and negatives, especially when you consider the state of the offensive line and fact that Foles was thrown into the middle of a game.

He’ll likely get another shot Sunday against the Redskins as the Eagles try to determine what their offseason plan needs to be at quarterback.

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  • alnguyen386

    The slant pass to DJax was not that bad. Sure, it was behind him but not badly behind him. Jackson had TWO hands on the football so it was on him to make the catch. The INT was mostly DJax’s fault. Overall, Foles was impressive for a guy who had no week of preparation and playing behind an O-line missing 4 starters. He may be the real deal. I’m excited. We’ll see as he plays more. The way he knows what he’s doing and gets rid of the football quick is impressive. The offense was much crisper with him at the helm. He’s got a strong arm so they can still challenge defenses deep.

    REVISED – Actually after looking at it in slow motion the defender’s hand touched the ball the same time DJax got two hands on it so it was really a good play by the defender. It wasn’t DJax’s fault. It was just a fluke that the ball bounced off another defender’s leg and pop right into the guy’s hands for an INT.

    • xlGmanlx

      Agreed, WR 101, if you touch it, you should catch it, especially if you get two hands on it. Not saying the throw was perfect, but at this level, that is the expectation. Also, I agree it is a timing thing and probably getting used to DJAX’s speed. That and he probably gets no time to throw to the 1’s in practice etc.

    • Agreed. It wasn’t an easy catch but as a WR you’ve gotta make that catch to help out the rook.

      • defroe81

        it didnt help that the ball bounced of another defensive players thigh suspending it in the air either or did we all miss that… not defending jackson or foles but if the ball doesnt hit thigh it hits ground and no pick six occurs bad luck team man…

    • UncleCarm

      I would need some of that super slow motion, but it looked like the initial Cowboys defender got part of the ball before Jackson had a shot at it. Bottom line, it was a football play where the bounces (several on this one play, including off the hip of another defender) did not go our way. It happens. It’s hard to blame anyone on that play. Much like the Bryant touchdown, where Rodgers-Cromartie got a good piece of the ball, but Bryant still trapped it… err.. I mean caught it. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way, but that is why every play is important because you never know when the football gods are going to feel like playing a joke.

    • jamesbondage

      I almost think that the pass intended to be a bit behind. If you watch the replay, there was a safety heading towards DJax at full speed. Had Foles lead DJax on to the receiver’s right side, DJax may have gotten beheaded after catching the ball. You’re right though DJax should’ve caught the ball and I’m sure he knows it.

    • mo-man

      disagree. I know Foles is a rookie, and he will make mistakes… the pass to DJax is strictly on Foles. If the WR is running full speed in one direction, and you throw the ball behind him… just because he’s alert and athletic enough to twist his body around, it doesn’t mean that the QB is not to blame. Especially as that was the 2nd time we saw that slant thrown off-target. We will see how practice helps the young QB.

  • clt

    I see more positive than negative in his first real action. That said, he hasn’t yet been tested by a D that can prep for him. Likely he’ll have ups and downs but who hasn’t on this band of misfits.

  • Al

    Most of his misses seemed more like timing issues with his receivers due to lack of reps. Hopefully it looks better next week. On the throw to Maclin it almost looked like he was trying to lead him more to the inside since he was so open, but maybe that’s giving him too much credit.

  • I still want to draft a QB in the first round. Let’s get another guy in here to compete with Foles.

    • That’s absolutely absurd. It’s not strong QB class whatsoever first off, and second we need help in so many other places why would you waste a coveted first round pick when you’ve got what looks like a capable prospect here.

      You don’t draft a 1st round QB for competition. You bring in a vet to mentor and push him.

      • Pomo

        Laying down the law.

  • xlGmanlx

    The backup QB gets ZERO snaps when the game plan is being installed. The truth will come out in the wash, but we should have a better idea of where he is next week if 7 is still concussed. While we are at it, lets tip our cap to Vick, he has been a gamer all season and has put it on the line play after play. We can question decision and results, but not heart and effort.

  • Few things I really liked/notice about Foles. First off, he many not have blinding speed, but how nice was it to see our QB keep his eyes down field when he scrambled? We’ve got FAST receivers, and if Foles can create time our guys will create space and get open. Really like to see that.

    The no huddle/muddle huddle he ran was also great to see. For coming off the bench after not playing since preseason, and to be able to perform like that I think that speaks volumes.

    I’m really confused when I read stuff on ESPN where Graziano said that some of the Eagles fans thought that putting Foles in there would solve our teams woes: By no means did I ever think Foles would come in here and we’d start winning games. After all the games Vick has played here, we’ve seen what he is. He’s not going to get any better and he’ll probably only get worst (if he gets back on the field at all). Foles made plenty of mistakes, but he put some stuff on tape against a first team NFL defense. He’ll hopefully continue to develop, evolve and get better. That’ll take some ugly hits, picks, and losses I’m sure but at some point you need to move on and try something else.

  • daggolden

    I have a question. How many franchise QBs come from the 3rd round? I bet 70% of top 10 picks at QB are busts. Just look at the drop off from top 5 picks, RGIII, Luck, Bradford, Stafford. Then You have Tannehill and the Ponders of the world. Now your going all the way to the 3rd round and getting excited about a 3rd round QB. I bet you under 5% of QBs in these rounds dont even make it let alone become a franchise QB. History shows me that the best QBs in the NFL are top 5 picks. Rogers and Brees was late 1st round. Brady was a once in lifetime pick. Name me one franchise QB chosen past 1st round besides Brady.

    • Average__Joseph

      In Super Bowl history, these QB’s were not picked in the first round (in no particular order): Kurt Warner, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, John Unitas, Brad Johnson, Tom Brady, Mark Rypien, Joe Theismann, Jeff Hostetler, Joe Montana, Ken
      Stabler, Brett Favre, Drew Brees

      • daggolden

        LOL Montana, Brady, Farve, Warner and Drew Brees was 1st pick in 2nd round. You went back over a 50 year span and gave me about 7 QBs. Do you want me to go back over that same 50 year span and tell you how many didnt make it? You have mentioned a few game managers. But look at my list of QBs that play NOW and let me know what you think. I think the odds are overwhelminlgy on the side that he is a bust. 1st ROUND- Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees in my eyes, Aaron Rogers, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Matt Ryan, Joe Flaaco, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford. Carson Palmer, Jay Culter, Ben Rothlisberger.

        • Average__Joseph

          Actually, I gave you 13. I only looked at Super Bowl winning quarterbacks since that is the end goal. There have only been 29 quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl, I think it is impressive that 13 of them (45%) were not 1st round picks. Your point has merit but it is obvoiusly not definitive.

          • Mark Sitko

            Average J is way right here – daggolden is off base – it is obvious that many great QBs are top picks…but the stats show that almost an equal amount come in later rounds…and for the record top of the 2nd round is way different than a top 5 pick

          • defroe81

            they guy just wants to be negative… i hope foles proves everyone wrong. eagles fan need some good luck we’ve had too much bad luck for too damn long…

      • southy

        At this point, we have him on the team. We kind of need to forget a bit where he was drafted and look at him qualitatively to see what he can be. The odds are against him, sure, and you might say the odds are to some degree against EVERY qb. However, the fact remains that in his scant playing time he has shown me more raw ability than Kolb, Feely, or Kafka, even if he hasn’t played in and won an NFL regular season game to this point.

        As an Eagles fan, we need something to be optimistic about, and he’s maybe the lone bright spot on the team, and the biggest reason why I would watch the remaining games, even as the Good Ship Andy Reid goes down in flames.

        • defroe81

          couldnt agree more

    • You could very well be right. Doesn’t it make these next few games at least more interesting though? Classic Eagles. Losing games but still making enough headlines to keep you coming back.

    • Taking a look QBs drafted outside of the top 10 with a QB rating in the top 15:

      Aaron Rodgers
      Ben Rothlisberger
      Tom Brady
      Josh Freeman
      Drew Brees
      Matt Schaub
      Andy Dalton
      Russell Wislon
      Joe Flacco
      Ryan Fitzpatrick

      So you know, only two thirds were drafted outside of the top 10. And about half of those were drafted outside of the first round.

      One the other hand, there are 6 number 1 overall picks currently rated in the bottom half of the league in passer rating. So yeah, let’s see what Foles can do. :)

      • daggolden

        1st ROUND- Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Matt Ryan, Joe Flaaco, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford. Carson Palmer, Jay Culter, Ben Rothlisberger. You give me f*&Ing Rich Gannon, Trent Green, Matt Cassell hahahahahahahahhaha. Those are just the QBs playing THIS YEAR! Franchise QBs DONT come in 3rd round!

        • Mark Sitko

          Vick was first round…so clearly he is far better than Foles – good point…what the hell are you even talking about again?

          • defroe81

            this dude is a vick lover who hates the fact a third round rookie might look better than his boy is all… he is not a real eagles fan just a poser. jumped on the bandwagon when we picked up vick cant wait till vick and his bandwagon jumping wanabe eagle fans are gone…

    • Beavis

      He’s right, first round QBs are sure-things.
      Andre Ware
      David Carr
      Joey Harrington
      JaMarcus Russell

      • daggolden

        Wow you gave me 5 in a 12 year period. Psssst Look at this list playing in the NFL right now. My list is a little more impressive. 1st ROUND- Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees i, Aaron Rogers, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Matt Ryan, Joe Flaaco, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford. Carson Palmer, Jay Culter, Ben Rothlisberger. Hows that look. Not to many 3rd rounders in that group

        • T_S_O_P


        • Mark Sitko

          Many of these guys have not and never will win SBs – these are not franchise QBs…only a few of them

        • Average__Joseph

          Since 1989 there have been 38 quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 of the first round:

          1989 Troy Aikman
          1990 Jeff George, Andre Ware
          1991 none
          1992 David Kingler
          1993 Drew Bledsoe, Rick Mirer
          1994 Heath Shuler, Trent Dilfer
          1995 Steve McNair, Kerry Collins
          1996 none
          1997 none
          1998 Payton Manning, Ryan Leaf
          1999 Tim Couch, Donovan Mcnabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper
          2000 none
          2001 Michael Vick
          2002 David Carr, Joey Harrington
          2003 Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwich
          2004 Eli Manning, Philip Rivers
          2005 Alex Smith
          2006 Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler
          2007 JaMarcus Russell
          2008 Matt Ryan
          2009 Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez
          2010 Sam Bradford
          2011 Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabber
          2012 Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill

          Forgetting the last few drafts, since those quarterbacks haven’t played long enough to form a reasonable opinion, from this list, how many would you say are “franchise“ quarterbacks? A handful? If you can’t get a top-notch quarterback in the first 10 picks, it just proves that it is more luck than knowledge.

        • defroe81

          only 4 in the mentioned have won superbowls… for that give mention to mcnabb 2nd overall pick 5nfc championship games and 1 superbowl appearance but you hate the eagles dont you…

  • Absecon

    Seems a bit silly to be using terms like bust and franchise quarterback with a rookie 3rd round pick that just saw the first action of his career. Let’s see what happens. Even if he is destined to be a serviceable number 2 on the depth chart over the long term, he looks pretty good in a role every team needs. Is starting QB really our biggest concern at the moment, particularly if a new coach is on the horizon???

  • Travis

    The play and decision we should all talk about is the one I see very few veterans make. I think it was a third down and Maclin was being mugged Foles seen it and threw the ball 5yds shy in that direction to call attention to it and Claiborne I believe got called for Pass interference. It was only like 7yds but it was still a 1st down and an intelligent veteran move. I’d love to see what he can do with some real experience and playing time

  • defroe81

    one of the few writers around to give a fair assessment with out bar b qing the guy.