Bill Musgrave doesn’t exactly have a major project on his hands here.
He is inheriting a quarterback in Nick Foles that finished with the best touchdown/interception ratio in league history in 2013 and a league-high 119.2 QB rating. Still, there is room for improvement, and the coaching staff has identified a couple specific areas for Foles to focus on as he prepares for the upcoming season. Much of it has to do with self-preservation. They want him to “ditch the ball earlier in the down” and reduce the number of hits he is taking in the name of staying healthy.
Pro Football Focus tracks the time it takes a quarterback to get rid of the ball, from snap to pass attempt, while operating in the pocket. Foles had the highest average (2.88 seconds) in the NFL last year by their calculations. (Russell Wilson was second at 2.82). Similarly, his average time from snap to sack (4.69) was longer than any other signal-caller in the league.
When Foles held onto the ball for 2.5 seconds or less, he was sacked twice. The other 26 came when he held it for 2.6 seconds or more.
Some work to be done, then, for the seasoned coach and the budding QB, and they’ll continue that work during the team’s three-day minicamp, which starts today.
“We critique each rep out here at practice,” said Musgrave. “It’s great to go against our defense because it’s a multiple-look defense and they have a lot of talent over there. There are instances where Nick doesn’t have anyone to go to with the ball. We want him to be smart late in the down both with the football and also with his body. We try to grade each and every play so they get feedback and so he can critique himself and know what he can do better.”
Musgrave’s coaching timeline dates back to 1987 when he served as the quarterbacks coach at Oregon (obviously). He joined the NFL ranks a few years later and has coached for nine pro teams in all, most recently serving as the Vikings offensive coordinator. This is his second stop in Philadelphia. He was brought in as an offensive assistant in 1998 and was named offensive coordinator for the final 10 games of the Ray Rhodes era.
The Eagles needed a quarterbacks coach after Bill Lazor took the OC job in Miami, and Musgrave was happy to be brought back into the fold.
“I was excited to learn this system, learn this culture and be a contributing factor on a team that’s really on the rise and had a lot of success in their initial year,” he said.
A lot that success had to do with the emergence of Foles, who is now on his third quarterbacks coach in as many years. Seeing as he is new to this offense, Musgrave allowed that he has as many questions for Foles as Foles has for him at this stage. But there’s plenty of knowledge the veteran coach can impart on the 25-year-old over time.
“Nick is his own worst critic. I know he has really studied his film like I have, so we want to keep getting better even though he [is coming off] a pretty stellar year statistically,” he said.