Year Two: Can Foles Get Even Better?

Nick Foles

“Year Two” is the popular phrase around Eagles camp right now. Coaches say it, players say it, the media uses it.

Logic tells you yes, after you do something for an entire year, you should be better off the second time around (especially if you did it well). That’s why the Eagles are hopeful they’ll be even better this season despite the losses of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, in large part because of the experience Nick Foles has under his belt.

“In terms of where Nick is in year two, he’s more comfortable,” Chip Kelly told reporters Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. “I think you can sense it when you see him out on the field.”

Foles is more familiar with the system, as are most of his teammates.

Familiarity does not always lead to improved statistical success, however. Take a look at the chart below, which details the first two years of some recent quarterbacks who performed well in their first full season.

Robert Griffin III20573.2102.465.63,2008.1415
(Year Two)161240.182.260.13,2037.0213
Russell Wilson261071.7100.064.13,3187.9316
(Year Two)26958.9101.263.13,3578.2516
Cam Newton211756.284.560.04,0517.8416
(Year Two)191254.186.257.733,8697.9816
Matt Ryan161173.687.761.13,4407.9316
(Year Two)221458.580.958.32,9166.4714

Of this crop, only Ryan  improved upon the number of touchdowns he threw, and all of their QBRs and completion percentages decreased. [Andrew Luck also saw his QBR dip but did increase his rating and completion percentage in 2013.]

While it will be very tough for Foles to top his monster numbers from a year ago, that doesn’t mean he won’t improve his footwork, command and other on-field attributes to help the Eagles win.

“The great thing about Nick … is that he knows he’s never going to arrive,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a great trait to have. Some guys get to where they want a job, and now they kind of kick their feet up and they go on cruise control and that’s not him. He’s continuing to improve on the little things.”

One thing Foles isn’t concerned about is being hung up on his success from last year. He also isn’t worried about proving last year wasn’t a fluke or cashing in on a big contract.

What he is focusing on is constantly getting better now that defenses have more tape on him and they’ve had several months to review it.

“Windows will get tighter, defenses will try to bring stuff that’ll stop you but that’s why we work every day so when we play, they don’t know what we’ve been working on,” Foles said. “They have more on you, they know your tendencies so that’s why we have to keep working.”

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  • reb

    The intern’s spitting out posts after hours! Nice bit of statistical comparison.

    • Rambler

      That’s what I was thinking… the poor guy gets worked on a Friday evening. Sheil and Tim are slave drivers, which was my gut feeling all along. Good stuff though.

      • Maggie

        Pretty much everybody in the “media” works weekends, or you wouldn’t be sitting in front of your TV watching anything. I know, it was a joke, but just in case.

  • eaglefansocal

    If Nick can do what Russell Wilson did from year 1 to 2 that would work for me. If he does what the other QB’s did not so much.

  • distantfires

    Eags need new helmets.

    • TheLastQuarterTurn


  • Peter

    What’s wrong with the helmets?

  • usmcnole

    I get what you’re saying about year 1 to 2, but this is his 3rd year. He got pretty significant playing time his first year. I’m not seeing a major dropoff on the horizon

    • Kev_H

      Exactly. An interesting comparison would be with QBs in their second year with a new offensive coordinator. Plus most of those guys were red carpet, franchise QBs, and are running QBs, which I think are easier to adjust to. One of the reasons I’m hopeful about Foles is he seems to have that Brady/Montana edge where he worked his way from nowhere and will always keep that scrappy edge rather than get comfortable with where he is.

      • Eagles1018

        I was hoping nobody would start likening Foles to Brady and Montana.

        • Kev_H

          Well if I’m going to be “hopeful” I might as well hope for something better than Brad Johnson or Rich Gannon, but even with those guys, having that edge of working your way into a job usually leads to continuing improvement and continually outperforming expectations.

          • southy

            For the most part, I’ll take comparisons to guys that went to SBs

    • Shane Brown

      I think itd be good to see him compared to other qbs who redshirted most of their rookie years before playing a lot in year two. Kaepernick and foles are the only two i can think of. Anyone else?

      • Anebriated

        I would add Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to that list. Just saying…

        • Shane Brown

          Yeah those are two good guys to add to that equation. But rodgers sat for a couple of seasons

          • Anebriated

            I guess I see it more as they all sat behind the incumbent before injuries allowed them to get their feet wet a little then taking over the full time gig. Does it really matter if he sat for 1 year or 2?

      • igglesfaninportland

        Randal Cunningham

      • Maggie

        Steve Young. Also don’t forget Warren Moon, who was treated disgracefully by the NFL.

    • Maggie

      This is not his 3rd year with Chip. And his “first”year was only a few games, with Andy and Marty calling the plays! Ugh.

  • PsychoPathetic1

    Got to add a year 2 to year 3 comparison also.

  • ia

    Having a bad year doesn’t mean you’re a bad QB. Look at E.Manning.

    In college Foles was consistent with high completion percentage and always got better.
    For lots of people it’s still hard to believe Foles is any good because he didn’t play on an elite team with elite players. That’s what made him a better player. And that’s what makes it harder to do better on the next level for USC QB’s. They had it easy and didn’t have to fight as hard for a win as Nick.
    Nick had to play Stanford, Oregon and USC twice every year and he sometimes did win and often almost did with less talent.

    • TheLastQuarterTurn

      Eli Manning sucks though. Even with helmet catch.

  • Larry

    Actually, last year was Foles second year, which he was awesome.

    • Larry

      Why not include Foles first two years on the chart…..Foles was BETTER than any of the other QB’s.

  • Michael Myers

    foles will continue to blow those guys outta the water. next brady…

  • Dave Alcock

    Keep up the good work Josh. Can you please let us know how Ertz is looking? He is meant to be the main beneficiary with desean departure.

  • PhEaglesPhan

    I completely understand people questioning if he can re-produce again this year, what he did last year was nothing short of remarkable. Can he do it again? Ya I think he can, I think his numbers will decline but he will show that he is the leader of this team and will make another playoff run.

    People think they have tape on Chip and Foles, I think he hasn’t even tapped into his playbook. We will see even more creativity this year, these new “versatile” players are gonna make things interesting.

  • TheLastQuarterTurn

    Josh, thanks for the post. I’ve been lurking around here for a while and never posted, so I’m not the right person to make these comments here, but I’ll make them anyway.

    First of all I applaud you for taking on a pretty tough topic. Will Foles improve, regress, or keep it on the level for year two? (Do we say two? Two-and-a-half? As an aside, It’s hard to know what to make of Foles’ work from when he was working behind a line anchored by King Dunlap.)

    Back to the main point, I don’t think there’s a strong correlation between rookie and sophomore seasons for a QB. Wll a QB improve or regress from their first to their second year? Who the f*** knows?? The limited amount of data you’ve got here doesn’t do anything to clear the fog. Foles is also kind of a unique case now matter how you slice it: new head coach, new OC’s, first lined up behind the wheel of a late ’80’s station wagon, then given the keys to a Porsche 911. Now his receiving corps has been given a makeover.

    Personally, if I had to guess, I’d say he takes a step back. I’ve had a mancrush on Foles since his days at Arizona, and I’ve been saying that he’ll be a star in the NFL since before we even drafted him. And, I think the sports science is a great idea- but it’s hard to feel confident that the O-line makes it through the whole season as healthy as it did last year, and NO ONE posts 54-4. Plus, we have to play the NFC West, and their secondaries are nothing to sneeze at.

    That said, how low can his floor actually be? Even without a clear-cut #1 wideout, we’ve got enough #2’s in the receiving corps and pass-catching RBs to overwhelm any secondary, IMO. Our line should be stout, even if it isn’t giving him 8 sec per snap like it did last year. Plus, he’s been inducted into the club. Some pretty good QBs have been hanging with him in the offseason so he understands he has a chance to be great, if he’s willing to REALLY work for it. I’ll say he posts just shy of 50 TDs, maybe about 47. He’ll also have about 12 INTs. That’s almost a 4:1 ratio- my friends in NYC who wear blue would give their left nut for those stats. If our D can hold its own, it should be good for 11 wins.

    But man, now I’ve gone completely off the rails. Josh, your article was too soft. Need to come up with something you’re willing to back up. Make a damn prediction. The first person commentary you selected was too weak, too pat, to say much of anything. You’re trying to make it in a tough business, so show some backbone and try to go a little deeper than just “this QB posted this, this QB posted this”. That’s what makes Tim and Sheil so great.

    • OregonDucker

      Great post Turn. I tend to lean toward Tommy’s prediction at IgglesBlitz; i.e. that Foles does not have the long-ball arm and so will excel with more targets in the intermediate to short range.

      Coop did well in this area because he didn’t need separation, and Foles could anticipate his ability to find the ball. Now you have Huff, Sproles and Matthews in this region, not just Coop. With Mac as a threat on the high, to intermediate routes, the offense is really scary for CBs and LBs. ( or for Safeties that dare to cheat up on intermediate routes.)

      Couple the above with a faster tempo, and with Shady always ready, then you have a juggernaut not unlike what I have seen here in Eugene Oregon. Only faster, bigger, smarter, and more talented.

      • TheLastQuarterTurn

        Thanks man, always loved the west coast take.

        But I disagree with the storyline about Foles not having the long ball. That narrative became the rage in 2012 during the soggy-paper-OL stretch.

        Recall this:

        I’ll agree that he got lucky on the first pass, DeSean had a good chance to come down with it, but it was still risk. The second pass they show there, to Coop, was perfect. If he led him, it might have been knocked down, anywhere else and it was going to be a scrum. That pass was universally panned, but I thought it was a great example of how to complete a deep ball.

        • Kev_H

          I agree with you 100%. I’m not sure where the long ball stuff comes from since he had such success throwing long for a higher percentage of his passes than any other QB last year ( If that’s his weakness, this blog post is moot. Also, recall his bomb to Antonio Brown in the Pro Bowl. It was a thing of beauty. He does a great job of dropping those deep balls in there.

          • ICDogg

            He is good at throwing long, but those passes are high-arc throws for the most part, which are fine other than in windy conditions.

            But I take a simpler viewpoint. With tall QB and tall receivers, the passing game is literally higher up in the air. That’s a lot harder area to defend, especially with shorter defenders.

    • imnotsorryisaidthat

      no worries,theses birds will avg 40 per game as instinct takes over in Kellys system year two,there are and is no number 1s in his system at wr,no need.foles will hone his already very important skill set in the system,deception,judgement,ball handling,defense will become a blur

    • Maggie

      You seem to have forgotten that Josh just might be in HIS rookie year too.

  • DirtyWaters

    Can we get a spider graph on the intern? Maybe an All-26 on his typing? Was there open competition at the intern position?

    • DirtyWaters

      All I could find on the subject.

      • Mark Johns

        This is the best comment ever! Bravo!!!

      • Stumpy Pepys

        Absolutely Brilliant!

      • Chris

        Just seeing this, best comment i’ve seen on this site!!! Well done sir!

  • mksp

    Josh, it was weird to mention Andrew Luck but not include him in the table. It was almost like “Luck doesn’t really fit my thesis but I should mention him somehow.” It was awkward enough that I had to check the byline (I usually don’t even bother). Don’t cherry pick data! AND, its always okay to say “Andrew Luck was even better his 2nd year, but he’s Andrew Luck, the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning.”

    Anyway, congratulations on the internship, I could think of worse ways of spending a summer.

  • Pennguino

    I don’t think he will top his TD:INT ratio. That will probably be a record for many years. I was a supporter of his in his rookie year. His play last year stat wise was remarkable. He broke and set many league records and even put a piece of himself in the HOF (7TD in a game).
    I think he has a tremendous amount of room to improve. He was a little gun shy and risk adverse last year. He put some balls in some tight windows but you saw him fail to pull the trigger on several All 22.
    I think his deep ball will drop off a little but his completion percentage will move up from 64% to about 67-70. Maclin is a pretty good route runner with more speed than he is given credit for. Ertz, Mathews and Huff are all traffic guys that can break it deep from time to time.
    His understanding of the Offense and how defenses attack will allow him to get the ball out a little quicker this year. He can improve on his timing in the pocket and how long he holds the ball.
    His maturing within the offense should also help him in cutting down on the sacks taken. I don’t know if it was his failure to pull the trigger or being confused by the defense but he took a few more sack than he needed to.

  • Engwrite

    The few games Foles played his first year were behind a depleted (horrible) OL. Last year he had a good OL and a great running game. I doubt any of the other qbs had such a dramatic change from year 1 to year 2.
    If the OL remains healthy and their right side play improves while the running game remains the best in the league, Foles will shine.

  • ia

    Dropoff is ok as long as they can keep scoring 25 or more and win. Just like Brady he doesn’t always need big numbers but has to be effective.

  • daggolden

    He can get better with a worse record and worst stats. With a year of film on him and him not playing the bottom 8 defenses coupled with playing the NFC West there is noway he even comes close to them numbers he had last year.. A good year for Napolean Dynamite would be 3900 yards 31 tds and 14 ints with a 10-6 record

  • Will

    55 TD’s 5 INT’s yeah he will get better and keep the streak going…

  • TNA

    I’m liking all the talk and descriptions coming out of OTAs. It’s early, but this team has that IT quality. At the very least, these guys don’t need media training, with the exception of maybe Shady. When they say things “I like competition” and “I’m not surprised Allen is ahead of me in the depth chart because I don’t deserve to be there after the end of last season, but I’m going to try to take care of business and win a starting job” it sounds genuine.
    Bottom line is that most of the players on the team, if not all, don’t give off the sense that they’re entitled to anything. They’re just focused on getting better as individuals and winning as a team. That’s it. And that’s a sea change from previous years.

  • Token

    if he goes something like 25-30 TDs and 10-12 INTs I view that as a good year. Im not hoping for another 2 INT year. That would likely mean hes still not just letting it go.

    • Tikkit

      If he has another aberrantly low INT year, maybe I’ll believe the numbers. I’ll be happy with the same range of INT’s but would anticipate more TD’s.

  • A_T_G

    Josh, I think you misquoted Kelly. He mumbled a bit in the conference, but I think what he said was, “Some guys get to where they WON a job, and now they kind of kick their feet up…”

    From the information and quotes coming out during these OTAs, it is pretty clear that the players have bought in and are taking the right approach. I am very excited about the direction our FO has this team pointed.

  • Reasonableeaglefan

    Sorry “Josh,” if that’s your real name. I’ll wait to hear what the guys who get “paid” to write this blog have to say on the subject.

    • Tikkit

      Thanks for your contribution, I’m sure you have other great things to point out.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        My post was a joke, yours I’m not so sure. So enjoy your grumpy Saturday morning. I’ll await more stellar football knowledge from you, like your last gem. Can’t wait for you to show me how it’s done.

        • Tikkit

          Guess I need another cup of coffee. Damn I’m off my game!

          Edit: Can I downvote myself?

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            No worries. I meant no offense to interns anywhere. Although, I do miss referring to Josh as the intern. Ok, I feel better after confessing that one

  • PhillySean

    The Chip Wagon blog has an interesting piece on Foles and “Things You Can’t Coach”.

    I’m guessing that Foles has a great year but that many really dumb fans and pundits (I’m looking at you Phil Simms), declare his season a bust about 4 games into the season because of a statistical comedown vs last year’s amazing performance.

  • paul from nc

    Josh Thanks for the hard work.

    But I noticed that besides the QBR and Rating, the numbers do not show a huge fall.
    The TD/ INT ratios are the same or better except for RG3. Comp % showed a drop of 3% overall, and the Avg yds were about the same overall,
    Unless you’re a super stat guy that simply goes by QBR or Efficiency rating, it’s a wash. Also you mention Luck, but didn’t include his stats. Any reason?

  • Dreday410

    LMAO this is Nick Foles 3rd year not 2nd and he was the starter for last 6 games his rookie season also people are forgetting the Nick Foles actually won the QB job in training camp thats why he started the 1st preseason game then Vick had better half the 2nd half and took over from there…..Chip Kelly started Nick Foles over Vick in year one for the first game of the pre-season cause he was out preforming Vick

    • Dustan M. Howell

      LOL, no, that’s not what happened. They split reps all through training camp. Vick started the first preseason game and Foles started the second. Kelly named Vick the starter after the second preseason game.