All-22: What We Saw From Nick Foles

Here’s a breakdown of what we saw from Nick Foles in the Eagles’ 23-21 win over the Bucs on Sunday, using the All-22 tape.

Play 1: The Bucs threw a lot of blitzes at Foles, and he handled them well. In the first quarter, you see the pre-snap look. Both linebackers are going to blitz the A-Gap between Evan Mathis and Dallas Reynolds.

Bryce Brown picks up the first blitzer, but the second one comes unblocked, meaning it’s on Foles to get rid of the ball quickly.

And he does just that. Foles hits Riley Cooper for a 10-yard gain and a first down.

Play 2: The Eagles missed a shot at a huge play in the first. The Bucs set up in Tampa 2 with two safeties deep and the middle linebacker dropping. Marvin McNutt runs a go-route down the right sideline.

The key is the safety to that side of the field inching up towards Jeremy Maclin.

One thing I like here is how early Foles throws the ball. You’ll notice McNutt is at the Bucs’ 47 when he releases it. The reason? See below.

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim got past Clay Harbor from his spot at right defensive end. If Foles waits any longer, it’s a sack. As it is, he gets hit anyway, which likely affected the throw.

Here,  you can see he had McNutt for what could have been a 59-yard touchdown. If that’s DeSean Jackson and not McNutt, maybe it’s six.

Play 3: The Eagles may want to add the “Fake screen/QB scramble” to the playbook. On Foles’ 10-yard touchdown run, they were trying to set up a screen to Dion Lewis and the Bucs were blitzing from his front side.

If the blitzers continue towards Foles and don’t read screen, it might be a sack.

Something I didn’t notice when watching live was how far Foles had to go. Look at the shot below. He’s at the 24-yard-line when he finally decides to take off. The entire Bucs’ D is reading screen.

From the end-zone angle, you can see nobody’s in the picture.

And Jeremy Maclin does a good job turning into a blocker, allowing Foles to score.

Play 4: A subtle thing I noticed on a deep ball in the second. Foles has had an issue of staring down receivers. On this play, the key to getting the ball to Cooper is looking off the safety.

I couldn’t find a great angle of it, but in the image below, you get the idea. The safety is cut off in the bottom, right corner of the screen. Foles gets him moving towards the middle of the field.

Foles slightly overthrows Cooper, who doesn’t get much separation from the cornerback, but as you can see, the safety is not in position to break up the pass, had it been on-target.

Play 5: Overall, Foles did a tremendous job of keeping his eyes downfield when he was on the move. But he missed one in the third. Foles took off to run and was sacked at the line of scrimmage. He had Harbor wide-open near midfield, but missed him.

Play 6: The Eagles have had success with WR screens. And the play that started the comeback was a 24-yard screen to Maclin.

Check out the blocking by Evan Mathis, King Dunlap and Harbor, creating space for Maclin to get to the sideline.

Play 7: Foles really did a nice job on the fourth-quarter touchdown to Harbor. Initially, it looked like he was looking for Cooper near the left sideline.

Since that wasn’t there, he scrambled to his right. You can see in the photo below that the throw to Harbor is not an easy one. But Foles put the ball on the money.

You can also see Maclin with his hands up. That might have been an easier throw. But the bottom line is Foles made it work.

Play 8: On the final drive, TV showed Maclin wide-open when Foles overthrew Cooper. But if you look at when Foles released the ball, you can see why he made the throw he did.

Cooper has a step on the corner. Maclin does not. The Bucs sent a six-man rush, and Foles got rid of the ball quickly. He had a shot to connect for a big play, but overthrew Cooper.

Play 9: Two things on the near-interception on the final drive. When I watched live, I thought it was just a terrible decision. But you can see with the first photo that Foles probably has a chance to complete the pass if it is on-target.

Instead, it is behind McNutt and nearly picked. Can you imagine how different the conversation would be in this city if that ball had been intercepted?

The second note is that Foles had Avant headed toward the sideline for what would have been a much easier throw.

Foles of course bounced back with a strike to Avant for 22 yards and then the game-winning touchdown to Maclin.

Overall, a lot to like out of the rookie in his fourth career start. And certainly some things to work on going forward.

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  • A Big Butt and a Smile

    Overall good job. Now this Thursday we will see what he looks like against a better defense.

  • Randy Jobst

    Great read. A lot to like for a rookie 3rd round pick who was supposed to be a project. He is playing with a really raw RB, No DeSean and a horrid OL. Doing a lot with a little.

  • southy

    the kid can throw a real pretty deep ball. hard to say if he’s just launching them out there or just doesn’t have a feel for his receivers yet, but here’s hoping he can start putting those on the money.

    • ICDogg

      I dunno. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is Jeff Garcia and 5 is John Elway I’d give him a 2, maybe 2.5, for arm strength.

      • JofreyRice

        Yeah, I’d agree with that. His arm is adequate, nothing like McNabb or Vick’s. Not sure I agree with his deep ball being “pretty”, yet, since he hasn’t really connected on too many. His long TD pass to Maclin in the first Dallas was underthrown…other than that, and the pass to Gilyard in the Steelers PS game, I can’t really think of any other deep throws. He seems to have the arm to at least float it out there, but his timing is all wrong. I’m hoping he can get it fixed.

      • southy

        It’s kinda funny you’d say that. He’s not Elway or a Matt Stafford pitching lasers on every throw, but literally the FIRST thing you read on any scouting report, description, or notes about Foles is that he has a strong arm. I wonder what you’re seeing that makes you think differently than almost everyone who does it for a living.

        • A Big Butt and a Smile

          His arm didn’t look too strong until this past game. But he doesn’t connect on any of those balls either. His deep balls are pretty awful thus far. We will see if that changes.

      • The Guru

        But he throws a very catchable ball and gives his receivers a chance to run after the catch….which is more than we can say for 5 or 7.

    • fastnbulbous

      I think the accuracy is at least partially a function of familiarity with the receivers. Like Sheil says, that ball to McNutt maybe a TD with DJax in there. The rest will come with reps … I hope. One thing that can’t be coached is arm strength, and the kid’s got plenty of that.

  • theycallmerob

    Maybe it’s just living in Bmore, but Foles is really starting to remind me of Flacco…..

    • A Big Butt and a Smile

      That doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy

    • Mongrel

      Funny, I’ve been thinking the exact same thing. Hadn’t seen anyone else mention it until now…

  • JM

    Everyone needs to calm down a bit. He was playing the worst pass defense in the entire league. And on the game winning drive he nearly threw two interceptions. Sure he is making progress but some people have already decided he is going to be a star and a 10 year starter. Calm down.

    • ICDogg

      Yeah… on the other hand he is showing some good instincts. I’d love to see how he plays behind a more stable line.

  • djack10

    why so many people suggesting we calm down? isnt it exciting to have a potential star at QB? yeah it’s four games, etc. but you have to like what you see. you have to like his attitude and you have to like that he is SMART. let’s face it neither McNabb or Vick are that intelligent. it matters in your QB.

    • xlGmanlx

      Exactly, isn’t this what being a philly sports fan is all about? The excitement of what it could feel like with a QB potentially with a high ceiling that seems to possess all the tools and the right mindset to put in the exorbitant amount of time it takes to take their games to the next level? Nothing to not like with the analysis above, all promising things to build off of.

    • A Big Butt and a Smile

      And the McNabb hate continues. Not very smart? Really? He only is the most successful QB in Eagles history, went to 5 NFC Championship games and a superbowl. Yeah, but the kid who only one won game against a horrid pass defense is a potential star. Foles can’t even carry McNabb’s dirty drawers at this point. Please.

    • The Guru

      Couldn’t agree more. This kid has a football IQ much higher than McPuke and Vick. Notice how there are no blown time outs because the QB has no idea what to do.

      • atlvickfan

        It’s too bad being wrong doesn’t pay well or else you’d be a millionaire. How did you like that mid-3rd quarter timeout Foles took tonight?

        • The Guru

          The first in 4 games? I’m ok with it because the guy is a rookie. Not a 10 year veteran who’s too stupid to know what to do.

  • Mr. Magee

    Love Sheil’s work, but this analysis is relatively modest in that it only appears to represent a few of the 50 ‘some throws that Foles made (to say nothing of the many other decisions and plays he made on Sunday). I watched the game pretty carefully, and while I freely admit I’m no expert, I came away pretty impressed – there’s plenty to be excited about, especially after watching what has transpired with regard to the QB position over the last few years.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is that Foles appeared to throw off his back foot a few times against the Bucs, rather than step into his throw. Anyone else notice that? It seemed to appear on a couple of his deep throws, which might have something to do with why he overthrew some of them. In any event, it’s probably a fairly easy thing to fix, if it is in fact a problem.

    I think Marty actually had a pretty good game on Sunday in terms of game plan and play calling. Given that the short prep time for this Thursday’s game will be a relative disadvantage for Foles, I hope Marty has another good week.

    • sdk152

      Double-M, obviously I can’t show all 51 throws here. It’s just a sampling. But I wrote about many more of them earlier in the week:

      Thanks for reading.


  • JofreyRice

    Please don’t take this as hate, because I am very impressed by his improvement, but he’s missed on 2 or 3 of these big play opportunities every game. He’s got to hit those, if he’s going to be the guy for the Eagles. As crazy as it sounds, considering he threw for 380 or whatever, he left almost a hundred yards & points on the field–and he seems to do that every game, because he hasn’t made accurate downfield throws. I’m really anxious to see how he can develop that in the offseason, and I’m hoping they bring in a coach that can help him as least as much as Andy and MM have–which might be asking a lot, actually.

    The ability to hit on the big plays, I think, is what got Vick named starter, over Kolb, and let the team live with a lot of his warts. The fact that he hasn’t been able to hit those throws this year, is part of the reason why he’s not giving the team a better chance to win than Foles.

  • Cheribil

    Can’t judge from one win; practice makes perfect (so they say) We’ll see.

    • Eagles203

      Perfect practice makes perfect. From what I understand, the kid is a perfectionist…lets give him some time…which always tells.