Twitter Mailbag: Great Expectations For Foles

A change of pace today. There were a couple questions posed on 97.5 The Fanatic’s timeline that caught my eye, so I decided to run with them.

From @975TheFanatic: YES or NO? MT @phillysport: Nick Foles 14 career starts, @LesBowen says greatness is already expected of him. Fair?

Foles went 30-of-48 for 428 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 48-30 loss to Minnesota. (Just realized the final score and Foles’ completion numbers are the same. This guy is a wizard.) He finished with a 103.5 quarterback rating. Les points out that if Foles had this kind of outing a few months back, we would be lauding him. Now, “we’re looking for greatness” and therefor are more critical.

I think there is some of that going on. Because Foles set the bar so high with his early work, we may look at a few misfires over the course of the game and be too quick to call him “off.” It says a lot about the kind of year that he is having that he can complete 63 percent of his throws and toss three touchdowns and the general consensus is that Foles did not bring his ‘A’ game. That is also a byproduct of watching this team so closely. If you scan the boxscores and see that Russell Wilson threw for three scores and was picked once, say, you’ll conclude that he had a good day and move on. It’s different when you critique every snap.

On the other hand, such scrutiny can bring some truths to light. Foles was streaky in this game. He was off  at times (including in some key moments), then would catch fire. He held onto the ball too long on a few occassions. And, he was operating against a depleted defense that ranked 30th in the NFL in pass yards allowed/game and had yielded a league-high 29 touchdowns through the air.

If you were looking for greatness on Mall Of America Field Sunday, you didn’t find it. If you were looking for pretty good overall play out of a promising young quarterback, you walked away generally pleased. As in many things, it’s about perspective.

He’s probably getting overly-scrutinized, but the same is true for many QBs across the NFL. Comes with the territory.

From @HARRYMAYES975: Was Sunday’s loss…just one bad game for a young, growing team OR a more real indication of who they are as a team?

Good one, Harry.

In some ways, the Eagles played over their heads during their recent run. Foles wasn’t going to have a perfect touchdown-interception ratio for his entire career. And no one predicted this defense would limit its opponents to 21 points or less for nine consecutive games. Just a really remarkable stretch, both by the quarterback and the defense.

Credit the coaching staff for getting the most out of their players. Anytime an individual or unit is crushing expectations, chances are quality coaching is at least partially responsible for it. Chip Kelly, Billy Davis, quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor and defensive line/assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro lead the list of those who should be recognized for their work.

I believe in the offense. Even if Foles is cooling off a little, I still think he’ll be effective. He is a good decision-maker and if you can make the right reads in this scheme with these playmakers, good things will continue to happen for you.

The defense is more of a concern. Davis has found ways to mask vulnerabilities, particularly in the secondary, but Sunday was a reminder that those vulnerabilities still remain.

“We’ve said all along we have so much work to do. This is Year One,” said Davis. “We’ve had some success — a lot of success that was probably unexpected — but still the weaknesses weren’t any…nothing has really changed. We just continue to try and get better as we go.”

To Harry’s original question, I do think Sunday is a true reflection of who this team is, just as I believe the previous five games were. That is, they are a well-coached, young team capable of soaring to great heights yet susceptible to big letdowns. Kelly is a rookie head coach that has many things figured out, but not everything. He doesn’t have all the personnel pieces in place yet.

It’s early in the build, and they are susceptible to breakdowns. The trick will be trying to avoid them over the next couple weeks.

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