Nick Foles completed 16 of 21 passes for 119 yards in Monday night’s loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Offensively, the Eagles (wisely) relied on the legs of Bryce Brown and a quick passing attack. The offensive line actually held up pretty well – in part because Foles got rid of the ball quickly for the most part.
Here’s the breakdown of his throws by distance. Short is 5 yards or less from the line of scrimmage. Middle is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards.
Short 9 11 39
Middle 6 8 64
Deep 1 1 16
Bomb 0 1 N/A
As you can see, a lot of short throws – 11 of Foles’ 21 attempts were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, and 19 of his 21 throws were within 15 yards.
He had some success on the intermediate throws, but once again, was not able to get the ball downfield. The one Bomb attempt was to Jeremy Maclin, and it drew a highly questionable 51-yard pass interference penalty.
To be fair, when I watched the All-22, I didn’t see a lot of missed opportunities downfield. The Eagles were playing without DeSean Jackson for most of the game, and the game-plan called for a more efficient, less explosive attack. The Eagles scored on four of their first five drives and only punted twice all game. Sean McDermott’s defense only blitzed Foles twice (1-for-2, 15 yards).
But once again, turnovers were the difference.
And while Foles wasn’t credited with any giveaways, there were three instances where he came awfully close to making a major mistake.
The first two came on the Eagles’ opening drive. They got the ball in the red zone, but then once again fell apart. On first down, Foles made a bad decision, targeting Jeremy Maclin (red circle) over the middle.
Maclin’s route leads him right into safety Sherrod Martin, who undercuts him and nearly comes away with an interception. Foles was late with the throw. He might have had a chance to hit Maclin earlier, but the Panthers had a linebacker dropping, so it would have been a difficult completion.
DeSean Jackson (bottom of the screen) was open for a shorter gain, or Foles could have waited for Riley Cooper (top of the screen) to get open against single coverage. Protection was actually pretty good. But instead, Foles forced one to Maclin.
After a botched snap, the Eagles faced third down on the same drive, and Foles was nearly picked off by Martin again. Here, you can see what he was looking at.
There’s a small window in the zone where Foles tries to squeeze a throw in to Maclin (yellow arrow). But he stares down the receiver from the time the ball is snapped, and Martin has a read on it the whole time. Not only that, but the defensive back at the top of the screen comes over to help too.
You can see with the close-up angle that by the time the ball arrives, it’s nearly picked off. And with the second defender behind Maclin, the pass has no chance of being complete. The first photo shows Foles didn’t have an open receiver, but he could have run, thrown the ball away or taken a sack since the Eagles were already in field-goal range.
And finally, later in the game, with the Eagles facing a third down in field-goal range, Foles almost turned it over again. This time, he had some pressure off the edge, but there was room to step up and make a throw. The safe play was dumping it off to Brown (red circle) and seeing if he could make a defender miss.
But Foles hesitated as he stepped up in the pocket and was late with the throw. By the time he unloaded, he had given cornerback Josh Norman time to break on the ball, and Foles threw behind the receiver.
The result was yet another near interception.
It was only his second career start, but clearly, better decision-making is something the coaches will harp on with Foles this week in practice.