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Nick Foles Named Starter, Plus This and That

Just like you can’t put all the blame for the poor performance of the offense early in the year solely on the failings of Mike Vick, you can’t dismiss the recent improvement of the offense under Nick Foles as nothing more than the product of improved offensive line play and overall offensive play calling.

November 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) rolls out of the pocket against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the play calling has balanced out.  But Foles, at 23 and as a rookie, already makes better pre-snap reads and audible calls than Vick did as a 32 year old, 11 year veteran. Foles proved against the Cowboys Sunday night that he’s got great footwork, more than enough arm strength, and most importantly of all, room and potential for improvement.

The problem a lot of Eagles fans (or more accurately, Vick fans) seem to have is trying to make an apples to apples comparison with Vick and Foles, when in reality it’s more like comparing an apple to an apple that you picked 3 days ago, chopped up and put in a pie, which you then ate.

Vick and Foles are statistically comparable now, which for Vick is pretty sad. Foles’ QB rating after three starts, missing DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy?  73.3.  Vick’s 2012 QB rating; 79.2.  Better obviously but not by nearly enough, especially when you consider Vick had use of both Jackson and McCoy, and 10 years additional NFL experience.

The massive difference between the two at this point is Vick isn’t going to get better, and instead will almost assuredly begin to seriously decline (further than he already has), while Foles at least has the possibility of continued growth.

To the Vick fans out there, I readily agree that if the Eagles had run the offense they’re running now with Vick at the helm (ie; running the ball consistently, WR screens, quick timing passes), he’d have done better than he did. But that wouldn’t have stopped him from turning the ball over all the time (9 interceptions and 10 fumbles). Or cause him to make better audibles.

On that point, I keep reading pundits lament that Foles locks onto his first read, leading to picks and/or near picks.  The funny part of that?  That was Vick’s exact problem. He did it constantly and that’s why he threw so many interceptions.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t blame Vick for putting on the show he did in 2010 and making everyone in the tri-state area think he could be the franchises savior at QB.  But we also can’t blind ourselves to the facts because of respect and admiration based on prior performance.

The o-line was bad all year, and is still bad. The play calling was bad, and while better, is still questionable. But Vick was also playing bad.  Really bad. Historically bad.

So much so that it exacerbated the existing issues with the offensive line and play calling, leading to an offense that couldn’t score and couldn’t stop turning the ball over. The Eagles scored more points as an offense on Sunday night with a rookie QB, than they did in any game this year with Vick. That should tell you all you need to know.

This and That:

-DeSean Jackson is averaging .22 touchdowns per game for his career.

I think there’s a prevailing viewpoint among the fanbase that DeSean is this amazing, top tier player. He’s a special talent. No doubt about that. But he’s a talent that does a few very specific things really well, and some other things not so well.

He’s a small guy, with incredible quickness who fit really well into what Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg wanted to do because he took the top off defenses and opened things up in the middle of the field (Not taking advantage of those openings in the middle of the field by say, running the ball, is a whole other discussion).  But the fact that he himself doesn’t score more often far outweighs the idea that he may open things up for other people.

At this point it’s pretty safe to say he’s a scheme specific guy who will have a hard time really thriving in another type of offense where he doesn’t get to run deep posts and fly routes all the time.

As for his role on the Eagles, DeSean is a special talent so he needs touches. But he’d be perfect getting his hands on the ball as a punt returner, on end-arounds, bubble screens, while still trying shots deep to him several times a game.

It’s not just his deep speed, but his short area quickness that’s so impressive. Problem is, as a little guy all it takes is one play where the QB leads him too far and he get’s destroyed trying to extend for the ball.

-Bryce Brown is officially just…wow.  I’m not sure there’s anything else really to say.  He’s got an incredible speed/strength combination and his burst through the hole and into the second level is truly special.

He’s a young guy so we’re going to keep watching him do some stupid things though, like say fumble the ball away at crucial times.  But if he learns to hold onto the ball and take the what offense gives him instead of trying to hit the home run all the time, it’s hard not to salivate at the thought of he and McCoy in a backfield together next year.

Couple that with a new coach who likes to run the ball and we could have ourselves something amazing brewing.  Key word?  Could.

-If all the stuff that’s coming out about Jim Washburn is true, then I say good riddance.  I, like many Eagles fans, was really excited at the thought of Vick and the Eagles racing out to leads, allowing the defensive line, led by Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Washburn to pin their ears back and sack the crap out of opposing QB’s.

Never happened.

Even last year, when the Eagles had 46 sacks by defensive linemen, the team still stunk.  The common denominator?  Washburn and the wide-nine.  And now Andy Reid has essentially come out and said that he fired the wrong coach during the bye week.  Poor Juan Castillo.  He’s my defensive MVP at this point.

Hopefully with the wide-9, and Washburn, gone there will be some more cohesion between the d-line pressure and coverages called.  Come to think of it, how ridiculous of a premise is it to even think you could have a unit on either offense or defense acting independently of the rest of the group and not expect there to be issues?

Another decision that will doom Andy Reid.

-Speaking of poor Juan Castillo, how about poor Todd Bowles.  This isn’t going to be a popular opinion at this point but I hope whoever the next coach is gives serious consideration to keeping Bowles on as Defensive Coordinator.  He’s been handed an awful situation, with a scheme that’s not his own and an openly subordinate defensive line coach.

Yes, it’s been an abject failure.  But his strength is in designing coverages, and with the way the league is trending in terms of pass, pass and then pass some more, that kind of scheme is going to become very, very valuable.

Topics: Andy Reid, Bryce Brown, Mike Vick, NFL, Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

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