Kirby Lee / USA Today
MOBILE, Ala. — Today’s question comes from reader Ricky, via e-mail.
I’m starting to think a big reason for Nick Foles’ decline in 2014 was the change at QB coach. Bill Lazor led Ryan Tannehill to a career year in 2014, while Bill Musgrave led the Eagles to a league-high 21 interceptions. Is it possible that the Eagles need to rethink their current QB coach heading into 2015?
I may need to make Ricky an official source for Birds 24/7. His e-mail came in at 2:03 p.m. About seven hours later, news broke that Musgrave was headed to Oakland to become the Raiders offensive coordinator.
As for the question, evaluating position coaches can be a difficult task. Basically, all we can go on is results and what the players tell us.
In one season under Lazor, Foles completed 64 percent of his passes, averaged 9.1 YPA and threw 27 touchdowns against two interceptions. In two seasons under other quarterbacks coaches, he completed 60.2 percent of his passes, averaged 6.7 YPA and threw 19 TDs against 15 interceptions. Read more »
Photo Credit Kelley L. Cox – USA Today
Nick Foles received a vote of confidence from a key member of the offense Friday amid speculation that the Eagles might be moving in a different direction at quarterback.
LeSean McCoy, during an appearance on the NFL Network, was asked if Foles can be “the guy” for Chip Kelly‘s offense.
“I think so. I like Nick,” said McCoy. “The person and the player that everybody thought he was, he is. There were a lot of injuries this year — Nick obviously got injured. He gets all the blame and he shouldn’t. I think Nick is a good quarterback, he is the leader of this team, and things just didn’t work out for him this year due to injury. But we’ve got his back.” Read more »
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Prior to Monday night’s national championship game, Chip Kelly took his public touting of Marcus Mariota to another level.
“He might be the fastest guy on the field. But his mind is even faster,” Kelly told ESPN during the pregame show. “(He) thinks like Peyton Manning.”
Kelly has not hidden his affection for the 6-4, 219-pound signal-caller, calling him the most talented player he coached on the college level. Ohio State’s 42-20 win against Oregon in the title game is unlikely to change his opinion of Mariota, who went 24-of-37 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and a last-second interception in defeat. Assuming he declares for the draft as expected, the Heisman Trophy winner finishes his college career with over 13,000 yards of total offense and 105 touchdown tosses to just 14 interceptions.
Opinions vary on how high Mariota will be selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, and therefor how likely it is that the Eagles can get within striking distance to land him. Standout executive turned ESPN analyst Bill Polian, for one, believes Mariota will go in the top three and possibly first overall. Read more »
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today
One of the Eagles’ priorities this past offseason was to find a way to reduce the number of hits on Nick Foles. Feeling that he held onto the ball too long at times, they wanted him to “ditch the ball earlier in the down” and reduce the number of shots he was taking in the name of staying healthy.
“We want him to be smart late in the down both with the football and also with his body,” said quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
Understandably, they were worried about their signal-caller staying upright. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, Foles was banged around quite a bit over the first eight games before Whitney Mercilus delivered the knockout blow in Houston. The fractured collarbone kept Foles out of action for the final eight games.
Foles has missed time in each of his three seasons at the NFL level because of injury. He broke his throwing hand late in his rookie season, and suffered a concussion against Dallas last year. Is there a concern that he is injury-prone? Read more »
Nick Foles did not receive a full endorsement from Jeffrey Lurie or Chip Kelly this week. But one key piece to this offense moving forward sounded quite confident that Foles would be the one throwing him the ball in 2015.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” said Zach Ertz. “Obviously I don’t make those decisions but as a player that has played with him, we’ve won a lot of games together. I think that’s the ultimate key of a quarterback is to win games, put your team in a very good position to win games, and at the end of the day we did that.
“I think we know what we have in Nick, I think management knows what they have in Nick, and we think he’s a franchise quarterback.”
Ertz and Foles developed a relationship early on last season when Ertz was playing sparingly as a rookie and Foles was still the backup to Michael Vick. Watch the pre-game warm-ups, and you’ll see them routinely emerge from the tunnel together to get in a one-on-one catch hours before kickoff.
The second-year tight end has always been complimentary of Foles. On Monday, he referenced one of the best signal-callers in the game when speaking about his quarterback’s potential. Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Until today, Nick Foles had not said a word publicly since injuring his collarbone against the Houston Texans in Week 9.
He tried to assist Mark Sanchez and his teammates behind the scenes the best he could, and Foles was the NovaCare Complex daily. He watched his teammates drop three in a row in December to fall out of the playoff race, but there was nothing he could do to get back on the field.
“It’s definitely been tough,” said Foles. “Any time you’re injured and you can’t be out there with your teammates, it’s difficult to grasp that with all the preparing you do in the offseason during camp and through the first eight games. But at the same time, it was the hand I was dealt, and I knew that when it happened.” Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Jeffrey Lurie said that quarterback always needs to be the top priority, and that the general approach when it comes to the position is to “try to win big and focus on that position at all times.”
So, will the focus be on upgrading that position this offseason?
Chip Kelly wasn’t ready to say anything definitive one way or the other.
“We haven’t made any evaluations of anything at any position,” he said.
“We have a long evaluation process. Time is on everybody’s side here. We don’t have to make any decisions today. You don’t have to make any decisions really until you get close to free agency in terms of how we want to start to shape the roster for 2015. I think we have a real good process in terms of how that works. There is no reason to be hasty in any decisions from that standpoint. You take a look at anything and everything you can. Our goal is to win this thing, and to do that you have to look at everything, no matter what it is. You don’t know what presents itself.”
What you haven’t heard, from the owner or the head coach, is a commitment to Nick Foles. Read more »
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There was a change in approach and personnel Sunday, but the results were in many ways the same.
The struggling Bradley Fletcher was inactive for the regular-season finale in New York (Chip Kelly said he suffered a hip injury in practice during the week), moving Nolan Carroll into a starting role and rookie Jaylen Watkins into the rotation. Because of the new pieces, Billy Davis opted to have Cary Williams shadow Odell Beckham Jr. instead of keeping the starting corners on their respective sides as is custom. And to try and minimize the amount of big plays, Davis went with more split-safety looks.
The Giants, though, still racked up 429 passing yards and the Eagles yielded five plays of 20-plus yards through the air, adding to their league-leading total. Read more »
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jeffrey Lurie believes that the overall state of the union is strong. He backed his general manager and head coach, and spoke optimistically about what lies ahead for this team despite the step backwards in Year 2 under Chip Kelly.
“I think we’re pretty close,” said the owner, addressing reporters in the MetLife Stadium visitors locker room moments after the Eagles season came to a close. “I think we know exactly what we have to upgrade. You see certain teams, they go 8-8, 8-8 and then they break through. We’re at double-digits, double-digits, it doesn’t mean we’ll be double-digits next year but I think we’ve got a really good nucleus of young players, mostly under 27, a lot of players below 30, a lot of up-and-coming stars in this league. It’s all in front of us, but I don’t want to sound overly enthusiastic because we have to fix those three things.”
Those three things, which Lurie called the team’s “Achilles heels that really in the end were not solvable,” were turnovers, red zone offense, and big plays allowed on defense.
“Great, great front seven and outstanding improvement on ‘D’ all over except giving up the deep ball. You can’t do it,” he said.
When Lurie says he knows exactly where the upgrades need to be made, it’s fair to conclude that he is pointing right at the secondary for starters.
Who will be in charge of making the appropriate changes? Read more »
Photo Credit: Troy Taormina – USA Today
Instead of doing a true Eagles-Giants scouting report, we’ll take a look at the offseason/future with this week’s piece.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
Turnovers have been the issue all season. The Eagles have given the ball away on 18.2 percent of their drives; that’s the worst mark in the NFL. Quarterback play has been a problem throughout.
Mark Sanchez is completing 64.1 percent of his passes (13th) and averaging 7.79 YPA (sixth). But his 3.7 percent interception rate is fifth-worst among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 200 passes. Only Kirk Cousins, Josh McCown, Blake Bortles and Geno Smith have been worse.
Asked how Nick Foles’ injury clouds the offseason outlook at quarterback, Chip Kelly said: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll sit down and thoroughly evaluate everything. But it’s no different than any other position when you look at it. You just tell us what we have available right now we’ll take a look at it, let’s detail it, let’s go through the film again, let’s put our heads together, let’s get everybody’s opinion on it and make valid decisions. I don’t think we can look back and say this clouds this, this doesn’t cloud this. It doesn’t matter how much it clouds or doesn’t cloud. That’s the reality of it. He got hurt, so we have to make decisions moving forward in terms of what we’re going to do.” Read more »