Game Review: Foles Takes Step Forward

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.Listening to Andy Reid earlier this week, I got the sense that he and the Eagles coaching staff wanted to see a little more out of Nick Foles Sunday night against the Cowboys.

In his first two starts, the rookie completed 55.2 percent of his passes and averaged just 4.8 yards per attempt. The issues on offense were not all his fault, but Foles had not provided many encouraging flashes.

Sunday night was different, though. Foles completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t perfect, but showed signs of improvement, making a few impressive throws, and with a huge assist from the running game, helping the offense move the football.

Let’s start by breaking down the throws by distance.

 
Completions
Attempts
Yards
Short1415106
Middle6997
Deep2448
Bomb010

Officially, Foles completed 64.7 percent of his passes, but it was actually better than that. Foles threw three balls away and had one batted at the line of scrimmage. He also threw one into the ground as DeMarcus Ware crushed him from behind on the first play from scrimmage.

Foles completed all but one of his throws that traveled 5 yards or less. He did a really nice job on the intermediate throws, completing six of nine attempts for 97 yards. Foles let his receivers make some plays after the catch. He hit Riley Cooper for a 16-yard slant. And he got the ball out on time to Jeremy Maclin on 3rd-and-6, allowing him to pick up 21 yards.

Foles took some shots downfield too. He threw a really nice ball to Jason Avant in between Cowboys defenders for 29 yards in the second. And Foles showed good patience, finding Avant over the middle for 23 yards, while beating the blitz in the fourth. He missed some of those deep throws too. It looked like Foles had Maclin open deep late in the first half, but he overthrew him. Perhaps he was used to DeSean Jackson’s speed?

A good sign in the second. The Cowboys blitzed Ernie Sims, and Foles stood tall in the pocket, taking a hit and delivering the ball on-target to Brent Celek.

I was also impressed with a couple of the throws Foles made on the move. One came off play-action in the third. Foles was sliding to his left and completed a pass to Maclin for 14 yards. And in the fourth, he scrambled to his left, away from pressure, and hit Avant for 19 yards on 3rd-and-8.

The areas where he can improve? Other than the throws I mentioned above, it sure looked like Foles had Celek wide-open in the middle of the field for a touchdown in the fourth. He instead threw incomplete to the left corner of the end zone to Clay Harbor. That’s one we’ll look at with the All-22.

Foles’ worst throw of the day came late in the fourth when he very easily could have been picked off by Cowboys safety Danny McCray, who just dropped the ball. He threw behind Bryce Brown in the fourth and was also off-target on a deep throw to Cooper, who appeared to be open.

Rob Ryan did not blitz Foles much. By my count, he sent extra pressure on eight of 35 dropbacks, or 22.9 percent of the time. Foles handled the blitz well, going 5-for-8 for 54 yards.

Overall, some encouraging signs. Reid announced Monday that Foles will start the rest of the season. And that makes sense. Regardless of who is coaching the Eagles in 2013, the more information, the better. The decision-makers will have to choose from Foles, Michael Vick (with a restructured contract), a draft pick and a free agent/trade acquisition. Foles will get four more games to make the case that he should be viewed as a realistic option next season.

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  • alnguyen386

    Guys, it’s all about the quarterback. Coaches are overrated. I don’t care if it’s Andy Reid or someone else coaching the team. If Nick Foles develops into a great QB the Eagles will be a contender. Great quarterbacks make head coaches look like geniuses.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      That’s not true. Alex SMith is not a great QB. He’s done well the past couple of years ’cause of the coach. Coaches matter. They can matter A LOT.

      • ICDogg

        Well, let me be Captain Obvious here and say that both matter.

        • Run Eagles Run

          the LBs matter, the WRs matter. the RBs matter the MOTHER EFFIN SAFETYS!!!! MATTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            LMAO!!!! Let’s not forget The OFFENSIVE LINE Matters.

          • Johngiam

            A punt returner better then Greg Lewis also matters if my memory serves correctly. Just give me a damn coach who respects the game, and understands that with great players, every single position can be used as a weapon and an asset! A coach who will attack opponent weaknesses, won’t try to fit the square peg in a round hole, can make in game adjustments on the fly, knows young top assistance to build a staff with, holds players ACCOUNTABLE, and isnt a borderline retard in clock management. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

    • Run Eagles Run

      soooooo trent dilfer, eli manning? these are greats? also, you are telling me andy reid didnt piss away that superbowl? your posts are overrated, alnguyen

      • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

        Yes!!! Someone else who realizes that Eli is NOT great. lol

        • Run Eagles Run

          victor cruz is great, he turns eli’s ugly ducks into swans

  • DutchEagle

    Well, careful what you wish for.. “We” wanted Foles, and now we’re getting him. I hope it works out because I don’t think we can/should spend a first on QB (not a good year) and furthermore we have glaring holes in the secondary, possibly the O-line (Watkins and let’s hope Peters, Herremans and Kelce get back to a 100%) and we could use a big-bodied Megatron-type WR.

    To sum things up, I think we have too many needs to be competitive next season. Let’s just aim for Super Bowl 49..

    • Stfu

      The whole be careful what you wish for statement is so played out. Please. Oh either want change or you don’t. Making that statement is a bitch move.

      • DutchEagle

        Whoa! Hold your horses there, missy! The point I was trying to get across was that we started out the season with an NFL-caliber QB (can we agree on that?) and at this point we are basically QB-less, which may have severe implications for the (near) future. Maybe try to read beyond the first sentence next time?

        • Yowser

          Don’t see how we’re QB-less. Foles seems adequate as a game-manager. Better O-line, adjusted play calling, and who knows? He’s still making less mistakes than Vick, I’m sorry to say. Who has never shown the decision-making ability key to the success of P. Manning, A. Rodgers, and T. Brady, to name just three. RGB III – a rookie – reads defenses better than Vick. Likewise, a few of the rookie quarterbacks this season show more quarterbacking skills – which are not the same as play-making skills – than Vick. As far as future prospects go, there’s too much younger talent available without M. Vick’s “never learned how to slide” baggage. Time to move on whether Foles is the answer or not.

          • Johngiam

            Foles put together the most complete qb game of the season, and he did it with significantly less talent and reps then Vick had. FACT! So not sure what the dutcheagle is talkin about

          • daggolden

            He threw for 170 yards lol.

          • Johngiam

            Have you watched the gazillion game changing mistakes the qbs made in every game before the Dallas game? Vicks best performances all year were terrible games, ended with a game winning drive, back when the defense played defense

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            lol Really? SMH. Amazing how change narratives to fit their point.

          • JohnGiam

            So the last game against Dallas wasn’t the most complete qb game we have seen this season in an eagles jersey? Please tell me when Vick played a single COMPLETE game this year. If you are going to argue that in spurts, Vick plays much better, don’t bother cause that has nothing to do with my statement. When did Vick come close to playing 4 quarters of DECENT football this year? Please jog my memory

          • MAC

            Hey buddy get your facts straight he threw for 22/34 for 251 yards 1 TD and 0 INT’s. Also 1972 I would like a win also but factor in he and the offense did enough to win its just that no one can win with the way the defense is playing. He put up enough points against Dallas last week to win.

        • MAC

          Vick is NFL caliber if you think a guy like Jake Plummer was NFL caliber. McNabb was certainly a much better QB than Vick. Vick has 2 playoff wins in 10 years. He is livable but definitely not good enough to win anything serious. To many injuries and turnovers. He of course is better thn Foles at this point bc he has been in league for 10 years. Foles started 2 games. We know what we have in Vick and its not a winning formula.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      Not figuring out this QB thing quickly can lead to a Dolphins like nightmare. SO we’re gonna hope if it’s not Foles it’s Geno Smith or Barkley.

      • 1972

        Matt barkely sucks. usc qbs suck. palmer lienart sanchez. he didnt even thrive his senior year with all that talent around him.. if foles came out this draft he would be second behind g smith..

        • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

          LOL. Hey don’t chop my head off. I think you take Smith in this draft as early as you can get him and I think he may surprise how well he transitions to the NFL. Barkley is the only other name coming out that seems worth considering. But I won’t argue with u: USC QBs suck. lol

          • JofreyRice

            Supposedly, Smith may project better to the NFL than some are expecting because he’s a better passer when taking a drop than he is standing flat-footed and delivering from the Shotgun or Pistol–which is what Holgorsen’s system asks him to do a lot. I agree with 1972 that Barkley is bad. I think he’s got the skillset of a Chad Pennington, with less intelligence.

            I was really looking forward to big things from Gen this year, but have been disappointed. I will say, though, Smith is an intense, laser-focused competitor. You never see him moping around, making excuses, etc. He’s definitely a leader–got that Brady intensity. Now, the question is, does he use that drive to win to work on the areas of his game that need improvement: going through his progressions, recognizing coverages, getting the ball out quickly, etc? A little scary to pick a QB in the top 5 that you’re hoping corrects his faults based on his personality, but stranger things have happened.

          • Johngiam

            I do really like his fiery attitude. It’s an attribute I would like my qb to have..but man, I’m so not sold on him. As soon as he got some attention, he went downhill. Then again, a good combine and no one will even remember your college season. hopefully the Eagles have learnedt here lesson and stop drafting players just because they had a good senior bowl

          • 1972

            lol sorry , i just cant stand barkley.i was done after his little im going back to usc press conference. another diva that cant play

  • Corry

    I think as long as he has a solid running game to back him up, Foles can be a good to excellent QB (meaning Mornhinweg can’t be the OC). I just question whether or not he can carry a team if the run game isn’t working.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      If they keep a balanced attack Foles may have success. I say may ’cause I still want to see him play against some tough defenses. BUT if they go pack to pass, pass and pass some more he’s not the guy. So lets hope the next HC believes in a running game.

      • Johngiam

        Not many rookies would be THAT guy when it’s pass pass pass…rg3 rarely throws motet hen 25 a game, Russell leans on Marshawn. I do agree with your statement.If you build a strong defense, MAULER line, and feature Bryce and shady, only letting nick throw 25 agame…I would have no problem giving him thru next season to see what he can do, and evaluate him when there will actually be some other FRANCHISE qbs out on the market….put it to you this way…In the next season and a quarter, if we ever go back to pass, pass, pass…we might as well forfeit the games. Cuz there isn’t a angle qb we could acquire before the end of NEXT season, that will be able to succeed in that type of system

  • UncleCarm

    I don’t follow college, so help me out here. Everybody says its not a good year to draft a QB, but how can there be NOBODY worth drafting (besides whoever Barkley and Smith are)?

    • BQNinja

      There just aren’t any quarterbacks in this draft that look like they have the potential to be franchise QBs. It happens – that’s why there are drafts where QBs are not the first few picks. The best QBs that are declaring this year are Barkley and Smith, but they have just enough flaws that they don’t project to be as good as Luck and RG3. Keep in mind, they’ll still be drafted high because some team will still need a better option at QB than what they have (e.g. the Chiefs). But why would the Eagles draft a QB this year when there will probably be better QBs in 2014 and 2013 is most likely going to be a rebuilding year anyway? It’s not like you can just go and first-round-draft two QBs in a row.

  • 1972

    foles is improving but i would like to see him fit a win in here between all this learning. i understand its about draft position at this point but c mon i’d like to see him get a win his first season starting. Unfortunately it doesnt look like the defense will allow that

  • daggolden

    You watch RGIII and Luck (both rookies) and you watch the Foles, Tannehills, the Ponders and it doesnt take long to determine that its just another level of player. Foles could start every game for ten years and that doesnt mean he will become Peyton Manning, it just doesnt work like that. It is what it is. Not saying Foles cant become a good starter but their are good QBs then theres franchise QBs the Peytons, Brees, Brady, Elies of the world,.There is a difference.

    • DutchEagle

      You do know Brady was a 6th round pick and a 4th string QB in his rookie season, right?

      • daggolden

        Yeah he is considered the best 6th round draft pick in the NFLs 100 year history. A one in a million type of draft pick. Your point is?

        • DutchEagle

          Well, that you usually just can’t really determine a rookie’s quality in his first season(s). You make it seem as if Foles can never be as good as the elite QB’s of today, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

          • Run Eagles Run

            if he was ever going to be elite, he’d have showed signs of it in the last 3 games… he hasnt and NEVER WILL but keep thinking youve found your great white hope, eagles fans.

          • GoBirds1

            You have not a clue. He has shown significant potential, he’s smart, composed and has a strong and accurate arm. At this point where he was drafted is meaningless. Who would you rather build a team around Foles or Sanchez? He took the Jets to back to back AFC Championship games year 1 and 2, so what does that mean. Brees threw 5 ints 2 weeks ago. Foles has every QB record in his HS, the same one Brees played at. Until he Plays for a season or more, we and no one else will know. GoBirds!

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            Uh…he does NOT have a strong arm. His arm strength is rather suspect actually. He under throws receivers A LOT. And that was a knock on him during his college days.

          • xlGmanlx

            I never read any feedback about his arm strength. Actually everything I read, said he had good arm strength and that his slow mobility to slide within the pocket was an issue. I think it was over stated. Not saying anything is an indicator of future success, i’m just stating scouting reports in college are part of what they use to project to the pro level, but it is just that, a projection.

          • daggolden

            Sure you can. How many games has Luck and RGIII played?

          • GoBirds1

            But he is not either of them. That does not mean he cannot develop into what they are already. Look all the current ‘elite’ QBs, they all needed time develop, measured in seasons not games. Luck and RGIII are the exceptions and they are exceptional.

      • daggolden

        So every QB drafted before the 6th round should be Tom Brady . Because you know Tom Brady was a 6th round pick. He was 4th string. But you are correct Foles could be special because the Eagles do one thing well and thats draft players. Thier track record tells me Foles will be a stud.

      • Run Eagles Run

        tom brady would have made the throw for that 2 pt conversion, as a rookie. brady looked like the real deal, right away.

    • TXEaglesFan

      Brees didn’t exactly light the world on fire his first two full seasons as a starter for the chargers. He threw more ints than TDs in 2002 and 2003 combined. Agreed RG3 and Luck are on different levels. But sometimes it takes a few years for qb to become beyond average in the nfl.

    • ohitsdom

      More like 3 levels of young QB play. The top tier has Luck, Griffin, and Russell Wilson, all ready to lead their teams. The mid-tier (promising but inconsistent) has Tannehill, Foles, and Weeden. Then the bottom tier, which does not look promising, is owned by Gabbert. I’d say Ponder jumps between mid and bottom tier.

      • aub32

        Foles hasn’t proved anymore than Ponder, so why are you putting him above him? Foles may still be in that bottom tier. Gabbert looked great in preseason too. I really think people are giving Foles too much credit. He had one decent game against Dallas. Let’s not start putting him above anyone just yet.

  • ICDogg

    I don’t know if the QBs in this draft are really going to turn this team around. But I do think if the team went retro and got a battering ram fullback and a blocking tight end and featured the running backs, the people would get behind it. They could do that without even spending a high pick, which they could use on defense.

  • Nikolai

    Just look at Donovan’s rookie year and 2nd year. It’s a big improvement. I’m not saying Foles will turn into a great quarterback, but he could. He seems to be a smart guy, let’s see how he progresses into next season.

    • ICDogg

      I like the kid. He’s really getting a trial by fire though.

  • JofreyRice

    Yeah, it looked like Avant & he were working pretty well together. I was impressed by the throws you mentioned. He just seemed to have a better sense of timing than he had against the Panthers.

    I don’t have too much heartburn about the near-pick to McCray. It’s a little concerning that Foles seems to make his worst decisions when he’s got a little pressure on him, but maybe he can get that right with time & reps. What did bug me was the deep overthrow on the sideline to Maclin in the late 2nd quarter–I think he could have fit that ball in there, b/c Jeremy had a couple steps on the corner, and the safety didn’t really close in time. Once again, on a deep ball, he just didn’t locate it properly, and the Eagles missed a chance; unfortunately, this seems to be the deal with Foles. I agree he took a big step forward with moving from dumpoffs to intermediate stuff, but it seems like the good NFL teams make those “shot” plays more than they miss them; anxious to see if he can make that next step.

    • ICDogg

      Sometimes just one extra second is the difference between great success and failure. It’s a tough situation he’s in. The line is like a sieve.

  • BrickSquadMonopoly

    Michael Vick can be who we want to be if hes just given a chance…and by that i mean playcalling I mean literally ANYTHING would be better. Why dont we just copy the Redskins offense and what they do with RG3 with all the read options. Vick can learn to execute these plays to perfection. Does any1 agree with me?

    • JofreyRice

      No, I don’t agree. First of all, Vick’s body is shot, and running that offense means the QB gets hit a lot. Maybe a 23 year old like RG3 can take it (though, I’d say it’s kind of foolish to put him in that position, as the future of the franchise) but a 33 year old beat up & battered Vick cannot.

      2nd, Shanahan has those plays installed to give some confidence and familiarity to Griffin, since he ran a lot of those read-option pistol plays at Baylor. I’d guess that the idea is to transfer away from those plays, into a more conventional offense, to limit the damage that Griffin has to take. Griffin is a very good passer, not just a great thrower, like Vick is; in fact, I’d say that Vick might be a better pure thrower of the football, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

      Look at Cam Newton. Sure, he had a great game against the weak-sister Eagles defense, but his 2nd season has been a disappointment. He’s another fantastic thrower that’s having his development hindered with the read-option heavy crap. I think it’s been borne out that you’re not going to go the distance with an offense that subjects the QB to that much punishment, and encourages him to make improvised plays outside the structure.

      • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

        Cam needs a new coach and if Shanahan isn’t careful RGIII is gonna need a new coach as well. These guys are legitimate pocket passers and need to be treated as such.

        • Johngiam

          There is n point with this team in shambles to play any 30yr old qb that can’t win a Super Bowl next year…if we are going to make mistakes, and be bad, then let it be wit a young guy, who ATleast still has a chance to improve and learn from his mistakes. Vick will excite us and win us some games from time to time,but he just can’t keep from making that game changing mistake enough over the course of a season and playoffs, for us to ever win anything that matters. He won’t ever win more then a playoff game AT BEST! And I actually like the man and always supported him up until the lions game. Then again if Reid had any sense of accountability, benching Vick just for One game after the lions performance, who knows the season could be drastically different. Wy in the world should. Any player on this team care enough to improve, when there isn’t ANYTHING a player can do to get himself benched under Reid? Let Vick sit and watch for ONE game, bet his ass learns how to slide real quick, and I would be willing to bet that some of the mistakes wouldn’t have been made?..now that we are hurried, you decide to bring back accountability? About 6 GameStop late big red

    • atlvickfan

      Vick already showed in 2010 that he can excel just fine in a conventional offense. Bottom line is if the QB is protected, his chances of success rise considerably. With the offensive line in the state it has been all season, the coaching staff should have shifted to a more run-heavy approach with shorter passes (like they called against the Cowboys) a LONG time ago. No need to overhaul the playbook; just need to call different plays.

  • southy

    I caught a lot of flack on here for saying a week ago “Take the leash off the kid.” Well, this is what taking the leash off looks like. Tell me you’re not glad they let him do more than throw bubble screens all game.

    With Vick proving to not be an answer, people are freaking out. Foles doesn’t need to be a savior. Those don’t come along all that often and there won’t be one in this draft. At the moment Foles projects to be a decent enough option at least to shepherd the team along in 2013, and he has the tools and poise to be a GOOD qb with the right coaching. You’ve got ~26 teams looking for the next Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees. They’re not easy to find. Sometimes you draft one, sometimes you develop one, but in the meantime, you do what you can with the talent you have.

    • Wilbert M.

      Southy – you’re a voice of reason. Foles doesn’t have to be a savior. It was great to see an Eagles QB hit guys in stride and not try to maim them with bullets from 5 yards away. Foles will keep improving and he’ll also lay some eggs, but that what rebuilding is all about.

  • shutit

    This kid has no shot in this town. Our fans are impatient jackasses and understandably so.

  • aub32

    I think the best thing about Foles starting the next 4 games is that he will go against contenders who need to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. There will be no fool’s gold here. If he can show that he can win some of these games, then I will be on board. If I only see performances like the one in Dallas, I hope we keep Vick or bring someone else in to compete for the job.