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March 25, 2017

Here are all of Nick Foles' pass attempts in 2016, with analysis

Earlier this week, we cut up video of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, showing all of their targets in 2016. Today we'll look another free agent acquisition who is more of a known commodity, Nick Foles.

As you know, Foles started his career in Philly, filling in as the starting QB as a rookie in 2012, going 1-5 down the stretch but showing some positive signs. In 2013, he, of course, had his magical 27 TD / 2 INT season in which he led the NFL in YPA (9.1) and QB rating (119.2). 

In 2014, his play fell off significantly, although he was still able to guide the Eagles to a 6-2 record before being lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

Foles was then dealt to St. Louis, where he played one dreadful half-season before being benched. Now a backup, Foles played in two games for the Chiefs a year ago. Here were Foles' numbers in those two games, both of which were Chiefs wins:

Nick Foles Comp-Att Yards (YPA) TD-INT QB rating 
 At Colts16-22 (72.7%)223 2-0 135.2 
 Jaguars20-33 (60.6%)187 1-0 86.3 
 TOTAL36-55 (65.5%)410 3-0 105.9 

Here's video of every pass attempt in those two games:


• Foles’ numbers were good, but they should have been better because he missed two easy touchdown throws. He missed Charcandrick West on a swing pass that couldn’t have been more wide open. Pop Warner throw. He also missed a wide open Tyreek Hill in the end zone when he threw behind him. Big Red was visibly annoyed after that throw (not shown).

• Foles was also bailed out on an interception when two Jaguars had a chance to pick off his pass, but they ran into each other.

• Still, Foles made several impressive throws:

  1. His deep sideline throw to Travis Kelce against the Colts was money. Kelce was unable to hang on for the completed pass, but Foles couldn’t have put it in a better spot. 
  2. On his first throw in the Jaguars game, Foles dropped one in the bucket to Kelce.
  3. His 30-yard touch pass to the back of the end zone for Albert Wilson was awesome. 
  4. On his TD throw to Hill, Foles read the defense quickly and made an accurate (although easy) throw.

• Against the Colts, Foles entered the game two different times after Alex Smith was injured. Sometimes the mindset of a backup can be, “Just don’t mess it up.” Foles played like he was a starter, looking to take shots down the field, instead of settling for easy throws. Oddly enough, when he started the following week against the Jags, he was less willing to let it rip.

• As we know already, Foles isn’t the fleetest of foot. That hasn’t changed.

• Near the end of his tenure in Philly, Foles developed the bad habit of retreating in the pocket when he felt pressure. There were no hints at all of that in the two games he played last year. In fact, he did a nice job stepping up in the pocket when he felt the outside rush.

• On his deep ball to Tyreek Hill for 50 yards, while it wasn’t the prettiest throw you’ll ever see, I do like that he let his guy make a play against single coverage. In the case of the Eagles, throwing up deep balls to Alshon Jeffery against single coverage and hoping for the best isn’t the worst idea.

Conclusion: While there's certainly a very good argument that the Eagles mishandled their backup quarterback situation, money-wise, there's little question in my mind that Foles is a significant upgrade over Chase Daniel. While Daniel doesn't have much of a resume in actual games, I did get to see him in training camp every day for a month, and obviously, as everyone saw, his play in the preseason was uninspiring.

Foles' name is now tainted after a bad season with a horribly run Rams team, but in my view, he's an excellent backup, and there's an argument to be made that's he's better than a very small handful of quarterbacks that will start Week 1 this year.

Should the Eagles need him at some point, he'll be in an offense he already knows, and should be able to provide competent QB play.

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