Weekend Reading: Foles By the Numbers

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Some links to pass along this weekend:

Pro Football Focus has a thorough statistical breakdown of Nick Foles‘ 2013 campaign. Here’s some of what they came away with:


•  Led the league with 92.5% of his drop-backs coming from the shotgun or pistol.
•  8.0% of his passes came on scrambles outside the pocket, above the league average of 5.6%.
•  Threw the highest percentage of passes at 20+ yards (18.9%) and 30+ yard (7.0%).
•  Threw 31.6% of his passes outside the numbers to his right, third-highest in the league.
•  Overall, 54.6% of his passes went outside the numbers, fifth-highest in the league.
•  Dropped back to 9 or more yards on 38.5% of his drop-backs, sixth-highest in the league.
•  26.6% of passes lasted at least 3.6 seconds, fourth-highest in the league.
•  Threw the highest percentage of screens in the league at 17.5% of his total drop-backs.
•  Threw crossing routes on 16.1% of his drop-backs, highest percentage in the league.
•  Threw the lowest percentage of slants in the league at 3.1%

KC Joyner of ESPN.com says the Eagles won’t miss DeSean Jackson. He identifies four elements that are part of their plan to replace his production, which includes the return of Jeremy Maclin. 

Jackson’s main role in the Eagles’ offense was to be the vertical threat. According to ESPN Stats & Information, his 905 receiving yards on vertical passes (defined as aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) accounted for 38 percent of Philadelphia’s production in that area last season.

Maclin missed the entire 2013 campaign due to an ACL tear in his right knee, but in 2012 he outpaced Jackson in terms of vertical receptions (47 for Maclin, 42 for Jackson), vertical yards (540 for Maclin, 449 for Jackson) and vertical touchdowns (five for Maclin, two for Jackson). To be fair, Maclin played in 15 games that year and Jackson played in only 11, but even if those numbers are tabulated on a per-game basis, Maclin was nearly as productive as Jackson. Given that his recovery is going quite well (Maclin recently said he feels faster in some ways), Maclin should be on pace to mimic Jackson’s role as a downfield target in 2014.

Pete Prisco of CBS put a list together of what he believes are the most overrated and underrated players on each team. Here’s what he has for the Eagles.

Overrated: QB Nick Foles ­­ Let’s slow the train down some, OK. He did some good things last season, but you’d think he was a star already. It takes time. Let’s see him do it again. Not saying he can’t, but let’s see it again.

Underrated: CB Brandon Boykin ­­ Who? He doesn’t start, but as the nickel corner he is a key to their defense. Boykin doesn’t have the size to be a full­-time starter outside, but he is plenty good on the inside.

Cedric Thornton is focused on improving as a pass rusher, writes Geoff Mosher. 

Although he routinely strong-armed opposing offensive linemen and made disruptive plays in the backfield, Thornton finished his first season as an Eagles starter with just one sack. Never mind that it came against Peyton Manning in Week 4. He went the next 13 weeks without one. As the drought elapsed, so did the doubt.

“You hear it,” he said. “You want to take everything with a grain of salt, but you know for sure (what’s being said). Stats-wise, I looked at it and I only had one sack. Then when you read it and you find out everybody else knows and is noticing, it takes you out mentally. You’ll be like, ‘OK, you’re really not a pass rusher.’ I let that get to me last year.”

Even his wife, Shakacia, piled on the heap.

“She tells me, ‘You only had one sack,’” he added. “It’s motivation to keep going and try to get more than one, get more than five, get more than the [average for] 3-4 defensive ends.”

Thornton spent much of his offseason fighting the perception that he’s a one-trick pony in the most literal sense. In an effort to refine the coordination between his hands and feet, he took up boxing at a South Jersey gym.

Around The Web

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  • jmkrav

    How can he have the highest percentage of crossers and highest percentage outside the numbers?

    Highest downfield and highest screens?

    Something about those percentages is odd to me. Are they saying that defenses can key on those tendencies? Good luck pouncing on screens AND crossers AND deep balls all at once.

    All that says to me is that he can make the difficult throws and doesn’t have to rely on hitch/slant/post basics.

    The screens were mostly from run/pass options too. Let the D key in on those. More running room for Shady and Sproles.

    • UncleCarm

      You danced around the conclusion that I had after I read it: What a nightmare for defenses. He has so many tendencies it would be impossible to key on them all. Then, as you mentioned, throw in the running threat and I don’t think DC’s will be getting much sleep the week they play the Eagles.

      • PhillySean

        Yeah, nice to see an unpredictable Eagles Offense that makes you defend the entire field.

      • jpate

        Main tendency I think defenses will key down on is him rolling to his right, he is deadly accurate on that. I don’t know the numbers but just from the eye test every time he rolled right he was money.

        • Cmeans66

          How CAN they key in on that though? Cover better towards his right? Send more blitzers on the right? Contain better on the right, something an edge defender is supposed to do anyways?

          My point is, if you focus in on that, the other stats will just come in to play, such as screens, quicker passes, or just staying in the pocket and picking them apart there.

          • jpate

            They did same with Vick who was better rolling to his left. NFL defenses can take you off your spot. But I agree with you, difference with Foles is he very good in other areas so not worried just stating I think he is at his best rolling right and DCs probably noticed that.

    • Kev_H

      Yeah, I think Foles is underrated. No doubt Kelly knows what he’s doing, but for the offense to hum the QB has to do a lot of things well. There aren’t many guys who could do all of those things well.

  • B.Burrows

    Pete Prisco would resign before he’d ever have anything nice to say about Philadelphia. Prisco is a clueless New York-hack!

    • Brandon Boykin, LOL

      … But Prisco didn’t say anything bad this time…

      • borntosuffer

        “Overrated” is not bad?

        • Brandon Boykin, LOL

          Within the context, no. We’ve (me very much included. Been talking mad ish since a rookie coach went 10-6) got our hopes up after 27-2. That was a rare, historical performance. To call him a star after one season is kinda crazy. Remember when Schaub had that one good season? Matt Cassel? I don’t agree with Prisco, but I get what he’s saying. We need to see 27-2esque over a full season before rating him that high.

    • Eagles1018

      I’m a New Yorker. Be easy.

  • Joe Thomas

    I bet Mr. Prisco considers Russel Wilson a star though, no need to slow that train down, Never mind he only got a ring from his defense. Foles gets no respect, but he will. I hope 24/7 post all the negative tweets, like they did for Chip last month, once he breaks out.

    • kyle wilson

      Since you brought Russell Wilson’s name into the conversation….lets take a look at the guy who you say isnt a star but Nick Foles is. In his first 2 seasons, Russell Wilson has thrown 52 TD passes, which is tied for 2nd most in NFL history(with some guy named Peyton Manning). And to put that into perpective, Wilson threw 52 TDs vs 19 INTs….Manning threw the same number of TDs while throwing 43 INTs……but he’s a game manager?

      Wilson’s career completion % is higher than Nick Foles…. Is the Seattle defense completing those passes?

      I understand the enthusiasm surrounding Nick but why is it necessary to crap on Wilson who is a class act, has done nothing but win since he came into the league, has great numbers that one could make the case, have actually been overshadowed by the dominating Seattle defense.

      Nick has the platform to be recognized as one of the best QBs in the game. He has started 16 regular season games. The team’s record in those 16 games is 9-7(granted under Chip Kelly, its 8-2 and 0-1 playoffs)… Nick enters his first offseason as the starter and has the opportunity to earn all the accolades that you seem to think he already deserves. But no need to disrespect Wilson to prop up Nick.

      • Philly0312

        In response to both of you. Prisco was on NFL radio today and said it was really hard for him to not put Russell Wilson on the most overrated list. Congrats. Russell Wilson is a slightly above average qb with below average accuracy on the perfect team for his skill set. Nothing wrong with that….but stop the comparisons to manning….that’s exactly why Wilson is overrated.

        • kyle wilson

          I didn’t say Russell Wilson is better than Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning’s name entered the conversation because of the TDs after their 1st yr…..but I forgot….stats are only useful when they support the point of view that says Peyton Manning is a God, Nick Foles is a God….just keep repeating 27-2, 27-2, 27-2…….27-2.

          • wow, you seriously need to relax pal. g-d forbid some eagles fans on an eagles blog *might* over-value our qb over some short bum in the NW with a noodle arm

        • kyle wilson

          Below average accuracy? Ok, well then Nick Foles isn’t accurate either….right? Wilson career completion % 63.9, Foles 62.5?

          Oh, thats right….the only stat that matters in the universe “27-2”

          • UKEagle99

            Oh, thats right….the only stat that matters in the universe “27-2”

            Wrong! It’s 41.

          • Kev_H

            Did you see the numbers in this blog post? The number of downfield passes and passes outside of the numbers certainly influence completion percentage. I think that’s what Eagles’ fans are seeing. Their guy is throwing the ball over the field and putting up big numbers wherever he throws it. And while the Eagles had a stout running game and put up great rushing numbers, in many of their games (Oak, GB, Washington, Ariz, and Chicago), they came out throwing and buried teams early. It just seems like Foles is being asked to do a lot more than Russell Wilson is and doing it well, though Wilson certainly is doing great with whatever he is asked to do.

      • um birds 24/7 refers to the eagles not the seahawks so take that crap somewhere else no one cares about that midget… i as hell sure dont.

  • Clamdigger

    Tim, just curious – Do they just lump Shotgun and Pistol together? Because the Eagles didn’t line up in the Pistol at all.

    • Andy124

      They had a separate breakout for pistol.

  • Token

    “Threw the lowest percentage of slants in the league at 3.1%”

    Id like to see that go up. With WRs that can beat man we may have some good chances at nice pickups on slants.

    • borntosuffer

      I was thinking the same thing. Any explanation for me in the difference between a “slant” and “crossing route”. Aren’t slants typically used as quick hitters to unload the ball when a blitz is coming? With the addition of Maclin the drafting of the second coming, and the subtraction of the known gang member, I would also think that the Eagles WR’s would be better equipped for slants.

      • dnabrice

        Second coming has reported issues with getting off man coverage, so not great for slants…

  • NickS1

    The PFF numbers, I think, highlight one of the reasons Chip wanted to move on from old #10. So much of what happened in the passing game was a continuation of the Reid era, only in different form, in the sense that there were longer drop backs and longer developing vertical plays. And that’s not an indictment on Chip. He maximized the talent he had and from it came a career year for old #10. However, it’s harder to run the up-tempo offense when you’re throwing lower risk passes down the field constantly. I can’t wait to see the quick-strike offense this year based on the shorter/intermediate game.

    • jpate

      I hope so, but didn’t oregon constantly lead in big 20+ yard plays? Seems like that’s part of Chip’s offense too.

      • moesus

        Not really from deep vertical routes though. Most of those 20 yard plus Oregon plays are screens, underneath routes, scrambles or running plays that the ball carrier himself picks up.

        • EagleDuck

          Exactly correct.

        • Kleptolia

          Yep. The way that Chip’s offense is designed, the defense has to spread out, creating seams. That way, even short plays can turn into big gains.

  • Scott J

    Its not really fair to call Foles overrated because he hasn’t played enough. To be overrated a player has to play worse than the actual accolades he gets. Like an average player making pro bowl money, a rookie getting a big endorsement deal from Nike, or a veteran making the pro bowl on his reputation. Foles hasn’t been getting much accolades from the national media. All I hear is them calling him a product of Kelly’s system. Nobody has compared him to Brady. He just goes about his business and keeps putting up big numbers. He hasn’t even signed an endorsement deal! A player can only be overrated if they underperform. Foles hasn’t done that yet.

    • BleedGreenJames

      Prisco is probably the kind of guy that thinks Robert Diva the Turd is underrated

    • Cmeans66

      Couldn’t agree more. All of these writers have an opinion and get paid to state it, idiotic or not.

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    • Breathe 21

      To be fair, overachieving is what causes expectations to go a high level. There are plenty of people who expect Foles to outperform those incredible numbers he put up last year. I think he has the potential to be a very good QB, but people speak as if he is solidified as a very good QB already. That’s how some can view him as overrated. It happens to players all the time.

      • Scott J

        Overachieving doesn’t make a player overrated. Overrated is when a player gets too much hype and doesn’t live up to it.

        I don’t think Foles gets much credit at all by the national media. Of course Eagles fans are more excited by Foles than they are, but I think most of us are cautiously optimistic. I don’t think many fans expect him to put up better numbers than last years.

        • i think the fact a lot of us love foles and think he will be great is his reason for saying foles is overrated so basically he is telling eagles fans to chill out foles isnt any good thus making him over rated. i think the guy is bias or just hates eagles fans or maybe just philly in general because watching foles over the past 3 season all he does is keep improving.

          • Breathe 21

            Saying “I think Foles has the potential to be a very good QB” is biased or eagles hate? Maybe, you should actually read my comment.

          • i was talking about pete prisco fool i agree with your comment i was just giving my reason for pete prisco’s hate towards foles but whatever…

          • actually i agree more with scott j lol

  • Richard Colton

    Foles also tied for the league league in 7 touchdown games. Just looked that one up.

    • Aussie Eagle

      Tied the all-time career record even

  • Maggie

    “8.0% of his passes came on scrambles outside the pocket, above the league average of 5.6%.” Chip DOES have a running quarterback!!

  • Maggie

    Slight change of topic. I watched a little of the NHL draft yesterday. In Philly. The local “fans” booed everybody and everything. Sad to say the reputation seems to been earned.

    • UKEagle99

      You spelt NFL wrong! Booooooo!

    • dnabrice

      Part of the reason we’ll never get the NFL draft…

  • Max Lightfoot

    I don’t care if Foles ever gets any props. All I care about is how he plays on the field for the Eagles.

  • Septhinox

    Shakacia -_-

  • myeaglescantwin

    Thornton, u just focus on collapsing the pockets. Sooner or later our edge rush will improve and the QB will walk into the sack for you.

    Great defenses all have 1 or 2 guys that collapse the pocket. Look at what happened when Peyton couldn’t step up into his progressions.
    The DL needs to compliment the edge rushers by beating the G-C-G combo right back into the QB’s face. I think we have 3 players that can get that done.

  • DGinCO

    Its not that he’s over rated. Its that he’s the right QB for the system. Kelly is Gandolf and Foles has the ring.