This is part two of the QB Battle series. If you’d like to read part one, which is on Matt Barkley, check it out here!
Nick Foles was a pleasant surprise for the Eagles last year. A third-round pick out of Arizona, Foles wasn’t considered a true option to compete for the Eagles as they rebounded from the “Dream Team” disaster.
Mike Vick was the starter, Mike Kafka was the up and comer, and Trent Edwards was the long shot vet. Well, Foles shook things up after having a solid camp and preseason. He performed so well that Andy Reid was comfortable releasing Kafka. It was a bit of a surprise but well deserved for Foles.
On a side note, consider what happened to Kafka just a few months ago. After spending time with the Patriots, the Northwestern product was eventually released in favor of Tim Tebow. It appears Reid made the right call.
So with his young rival out of the way, Foles had earned the role as the backup to Vick. The gig couldn’t have been any better for Foles. By the time that he was inserted into the lineup to replace an injured Vick, the team was 3-5, Juan Castillo was fired, and everything had gone to hell. Foles was able to compete in an environment where the expectations were low. He also had the benefit of a coach that inexplicably uses better strategy with backup quarterbacks than his starters.
He finished the season with a 60.8 completion percentage, 1,699 yards, 6 TDs and 5 INTs over seven games with a 1-6 record. While his play didn’t wow anyone it provided some promise, which is all you can ask from a rookie.
However, with Chip Kelly in town, all of the players are working with a clean slate. Therefore, let’s take a look at the basics before looking into whether Foles will start again.
Weight: 243 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 1/2 in.
40 Time: 5.03
Foles has nearly everything going for him in this category, if you’re looking for an ideal QB build. At 6’6″, 243 pounds, Foles is big enough to see over the line and take a hit or two. He also fits Kelly’s requisite mold with huge hands to better control the football.
The only real knock on Foles in terms of a physical standpoint, is that he’s awfully slow. For a team that wants to present the quarterback as a running option, he’s an awful choice in that regard. A great quote from the coach himself: ”If I called 20 read-option plays with Nick Foles in the game, I should be fired“
Now for the big question. Should Foles start?
Having watched how Foles played last year, he’s certainly played well enough to earn the chance to start and likely would be the unquestioned starter if Reid were still in town.
His major issue, and this is the same problem with Matt Barkley, is that Foles didn’t have great arm strength last year and struggled with the deep ball on the NFL level. In fact, he only completed roughly 36% of his passes over 20 yards (account required) last season. That will need to improve, but it’s hard to say how much of that percentage is truly on Foles, so I’m willing to give a rookie pass for now.
What’s impressive about him though is his ability to keep plays alive. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: in this aspect he really reminds me of Tony Romo. His pocket awareness and ability to keep his eyes downfield are great skills for a young QB. Poise is one of those intangibles that really means something on the field.
Consider how he played in the Tampa Bay game last season. He was sacked six times in that game but threw for 381 yards, 2 TDs and led a game winning fourth quarter drive. It was a very impressive and gutsy game for the kid.
Overall, he has all of the tools to be at least an average quarterback in the NFL, if not better. At 24 years old and in an offense based upon mismatches, Foles has every opportunity to succeed this year. He’s also the fan favorite to win the position given his promise from last year and the general hatred of Vick.
But can he actually beat Vick, and should Foles be the starter? These are all questions that I’ll get to in the next two installments. Stay tuned.
Follow me on Twitter @TheWooderCooler