Philadelphia Eagles: Dissecting Nick Foles' Performance vs. Dallas
The Philadelphia Eagles have some big decisions to make in the very near future, one of which involves who'll be their starting quarterback as another disappointing season winds down.
Michael Vick wasn't playing well before suffering a concussion in Week 10, but Vick still likely gives the Eagles their best chance to win right now. With Vick out for the entire second half and most of the second quarter Sunday against Dallas, rookie third-round pick Nick Foles threw his first regular-season passes as an NFL quarterback.
So was Foles' performance good enough for the Eagles to consider sacrificing a little right now in order to get him more work before time runs out on 2012?
On paper, it was. Foles completed 69 percent of his passes, threw a 44-yard touchdown pass and was only intercepted once on 34 drop-backs. But let's look beyond that basic stat line to get a deeper read on the Arizona product.
Foles' 44-yard touchdown completion to Jeremy Maclin wasn't as special as it sounded. It was a blown coverage from the Cowboys, leaving Maclin wide open in the end zone. Foles' throw was in the general vicinity, but it's a throw every single quarterback in the league is going to connect on 95 percent of the time.
A look at how open Maclin was...
When you break it down beyond the Maclin completion, Foles only averaged 5.6 yards per pass attempt, which would rank dead last in the NFL by a wide margin if he were eligible. The only eligible quarterback below 6.0 in that area is Blaine Gabbert (5.9).
Of course, it's not completely fair to blame Foles for that. The Eagles, smartly, drew up a fairly safe game plan for him and we don't know what he would have done on that Maclin play had the coverage not been blown by the Dallas secondary. Plus, that number would have been boosted had Jason Avant not let Foles' first career pass hit him right in the helmet.
So he wasn't tested a ton, but that only causes me to want to see more, especially considering that he held up well under pressure. When facing heat, PFF reports that Foles completed seven of nine passes and didn't turn the ball over. That's a small sample size, and it involves a lot of short passes, but it's still a completion percentage of 77.8. Vick's, for the sake of comparison, is 40.7.
An example of his brave pocket presence came on his first completion, when he managed to complete a pass to Clay Harbor despite being hit hard by DeMarcus Ware on the blind side.
It was also established by PFF last week that Vick spends more time in the pocket waiting to throw than every other quarterback in the league except Russell Wilson. But Sunday, Foles spent, on average, 34 one hundredths of a second less in the pocket than Vick has thus far. I'll reiterate one more time that the sample size is small, but that's encouraging nonetheless.
There were a few glaring mistakes, namely his interception in the fourth quarter. The pick came off a deflection, but it was still Foles' fault. He threw it well behind DeSean Jackson, who nearly still made the play in spite of the bad pass.
What made that so much more painful was that Foles had gotten away with a terrible decision only one possession earlier, when a Morris Claiborne penalty negated this throw right into Anthony Spencer's hands...
Here's hoping Andy Reid does what's best for the future of this franchise, even if it might conflict with what's best for the future of Andy Reid. Or that, in the latter scenario, Reid finally gets overruled by a superior.
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