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.

 
Completions
Attempts
Yards
Short161695
Middle51280
Deep010
Bomb1144

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.

ACCURACY

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.

DECISION-MAKING

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.

MOBILITY

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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