Donovan McNabb has seen Nick Foles start 16 games, but he’s not ready to say the Eagles have found themselves a franchise quarterback.
“That’s the big question. I really can’t answer that at this particular point. But if I had to, give or take, I would say no,” McNabb said during an interview with Harry Mayes and Brian Baldinger on 97.5 The Fanatic.
“He won’t do what he did last year. That just won’t happen – 27 touchdowns, two interceptions. I see him being more of a 25-touchdown, maybe eight, maybe 10 interception guy. But one thing that I think Chip [Kelly] and now [QBs coach] Bill Musgrave are trying to have in the mind of Nick Foles is: You don’t have to take chances all the time. There’s nothing wrong with checking down to the back, utilizing your tight ends. You don’t have to take the shots all the time. It’s not one of those types of offenses where it’s just gonna be, ‘We’re gonna score on the first play and get off the field.’
“So I think the thing for Nick Foles is, don’t worry about what you did last year, focus on what’s going on now because things are gonna change. Defenses are now game-planning for you. They’re gonna try to eliminate LeSean McCoy. But you are their focus. If they can apply pressure to you and get you off your spot, then they’ve done their job. Nick Foles is not known for his ability to get out of the pocket. I remember having him on my radio show, saying, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you have the speed of a turtle?’ When he’s running the read option, I’ve never seen a quarterback move so slow. But with his size, he does a great job of delivering the ball out of the pocket and giving his guys great opportunity.”
Foles was asked after today’s practice whether he had any response.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I haven’t earned anything. I haven’t earned anything yet. It’s a week to week thing. It always will be. My job’s to go out there and play to the best of my ability. I haven’t earned anything yet.”
The Eagles led the NFL with pass plays of 20+ yards (80) and 40+ yards (18) last year. Foles led the league, averaging 9.1 yards per attempt.
According to Pro Football Focus, 17.4 percent of Foles’ passes traveled at least 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. That was the top mark among all quarterbacks.
“They’re a methodical football team,” McNabb said. “They’re not an explosive type of football team when it comes to the offensive end. With Chip Kelly, he wants to be able to run the football first, and it sets up the play-action game, where it’s more of a dink and dunk and have the opportunity for an explosive play here or there. The gameplan is not to go down the field like you would see Bruce Arians and maybe the Indianapolis Colts and now the Arizona Cardinals do it.
“It’s about wide receiver screens, it’s about giving the ball to LeSean McCoy in space, utilizing your tight ends, and your wide receivers will be your intermediate routes, more from 12 to 15 to be able to catch the ball, make guys miss and get upfield when they can. That’s what the Chip Kelly offense is. It’s the Oregon-based offense that’s made a lot of their players successful on the collegiate level, and obviously it’s working in the NFL.”
McNabb ranked the quarterbacks in the NFC East. He has Foles first, Robert Griffin III second, Tony Romo third and Eli Manning fourth.