Philadelphia Eagles: How Offense Would Change If Nick Foles Were at the Helm
Despite not committing any turnovers against the Giants in Week 4 (surprisingly), the Eagles still enter Week 5 ranked second in the league in turnovers with 12. Of those 12 turnovers, eight belong to Michael Vick (six interceptions and two fumbles).
This season is crucial for Vick.
With a full offseason—one with OTAs and a training camp—he was expected to take the next step in his development as a pocket passer. But so far, nothing has changed. Aside from last week's game against the Giants, Vick looks like the same guy from the "Dream Team," with a dash of regression here and there.
After the Eagles' crushing loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Andy Reid inadvertently started a quarterback controversy by saying, "Right now, we're with Michael (Vick) and that's what we're doing. We'll evaluate as we go."
He then quickly backtracked on his comments, expunging any doubts or rumors that may have come as a result. "Michael's our quarterback. Period. Michael's our quarterback. Listen, does he need to get better? Do we all need to get better? Yes. We're all going to do that."
So there, problem solved. Quarterback controversy avoided, right? Wrong.
Regardless of what Andy Reid said to the media, there's no doubt that he considered giving Nick Foles a shot. Otherwise, why would he have said what he said? After all, his job is on the line too.
So, if Nick Foles were to start a game this season, be it due to Michael Vick's health or play, what would the offense look like?
Well, let's examine.
For starters, Foles has great size at 6'6", 243 lbs and a strong arm to get the ball downfield.
In the three years he started for Arizona, Foles' completion percentage steadily increased from 63.6 to 67.1 to 69.1 percent. In addition to impressive accuracy, Foles accumulated a 2-to-1 touchdown ratio during his time at Arizona.
What does that say? It says that Foles is exceptionally accurate and makes good decisions with the football. Unlike Vick, Foles' height is a huge advantage, allowing him to see more of the field and get the ball out quickly over outstretched hands of defensive linemen.
With Vick under center, the offensive line has to block for extended periods of time due to his indecisiveness. By getting the ball out of his hands quickly, Foles is limiting his chances of being sacked and also making life much easier on the offensive line.
While Vick was out during the preseason, Foles had the opportunity to showcase himself, and he did not disappoint. He compiled 553 yards on 63.5 percent passing with six touchdowns to two interceptions and a 110.1 passer rating.
Not bad, huh?
Granted, it was the preseason, but even still, Foles was consistent through every game—staying within his limitations, making the right throws and effectively managing the game. He displayed a level a comfort that isn't normal for most rookie quarterbacks.
"His challenge is the whole offense and getting all those reps, because it appears he's quite a natural player," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Since 2010, Vick has been a model of inconsistency, throwing just as many touchdowns as interceptions (22). As an Eagle, he has yet to complete a full 16-game season in large part (but not completely) due to his recklessness and unwillingness to throw the ball away.
With Foles at the helm, you wouldn't have to worry about him making rash, irresponsible plays that jeopardize his health. Instead, you'd have one who consistently took care of the ball and his body.
This area of his game would have the biggest effect on the offense. For so long, Philadelphia has depended on the dual-threat quarterback. Foles is a different animal.
If given the chance, could Nick Foles lead the Eagles to the playoffs?
He's a pure pocket passer, the prototypical West Coast offense quarterback—big, strong and accurate.
Within the pocket, he has good maneuverability and keeps his eyes down the field. But in terms of scrambling, he's not very effective. He has the ability to extend plays, but don't expect him to outrun anyone.
Foles’ lack of mobility would make it easier for opposing defenses to game plan for the Eagles. They'd no longer have to worry about containing the quarterback. Nor would they have to second guess blitzing because the chances of him escaping are slim.
Their only focus would be on stopping the run and covering the receivers.
Nevertheless, it's these types of quarterbacks, the pure pocket passers, that have had the most success in the NFL.
Overall, Foles is a very promising quarterback that has a lot of desirable traits, but he's still a rookie. He has no experience. He hasn't played a full-speed regular-season game.
His preseason was impressive, but you can't take it at face value. It’s the preseason.
In spite of Michael Vick's sluggish start, the Eagles are 3-1, and he's lead them to three fourth-quarter comebacks already this season. Three more than last season. The Eagles know that he's the key to their Super Bowl dreams.
But if he doesn't cut back on the turnovers, Andy Reid might not be so quick to "clarify" his comments next time.
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