Sep 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) is chased down by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium.
28th in the National Football League. That is where Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles ranks in completion percentage out of all quarterbacks with at least 14 passing attempts per game. After last week’s rollercoaster performance against the Arizona Cardinals, Foles finished with a stat line of 36-62 for 411 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Completing just 59.2% of his passes this season, the Foles that we were all used to seeing in 2013, the quick-decision making playmaker, has regressed.
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Foles is attempting an absurd 42 passes per game, trailing only Andrew Luck. Luck however, is ranked in the top half of the league in completion percentage, leads the league is passing yards, and is tied for throwing the most touchdowns with Peyton Manning. Foles on the other hand, ranks 12th in passing yards and 13th in touchdowns. The two signal callers from the 2012 draft class may share a similar volume in drop backs, but the results are far from identical.
To date, Foles has yet to prove he can consistently perform whether it be from week to week or play to play on the same drive. After an outstanding game against the Washington Redskins, Foles put up a clunker against the San Francisco 49ers. On one play during a drive he’ll make an amazing throw towards the sideline on a deep out, then the next will be a pass thrown into double coverage when he’s pushed outside the pocket. Franchise quarterbacks aren’t necessarily always putting up 3-4 touchdowns per game, but they are consistently providing their team with a great chance to win the game by putting them in the best place to succeed and minimizing turnovers.
Nick Foles’ accuracy this year has been his major downfall. The departure of quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor may have provide some reason behind Foles’ lack of consistency, but he needs help around him before he can progress his game to take this team to the next level. His footwork has been called out as a weakness this year when under duress as he is not stepping into his passes and throwing them with conviction. He’s having difficulty maneuvering in the pocket with sloppy footwork and consequently is missing open receivers. There are throws available for Foles to make, but quite simply, he’s not the same quarterback as last year and is failing to make those plays.
The Eagles are rushing the ball 39.1% of the time, ranked 26th in the league. This number is eye popping considering Chip Kelly developed a culture for his rushing game while at Oregon and brought that to Philadelphia in 2013 when they ran it the 6th most in the league. Foles dropped back to pass 62 times last week. 62! Kelly is not helping his quarterback out by having his struggling quarterback drop back so many times in a game. Possessing All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, Kelly needs to get back to running the ball more often, even with an offensive line overcome with injuries.
“The stat line is whatever. I’m upset because we gotta get those points. It’s my job – I gotta put us in position where we can have more points on the board and win the games.” – Nick Foles
Injuries to the line may be effecting lanes in the running game, but the problems associated with Foles derive from something else. Foles has now had four games this season where he has gone without a sack, so putting the blame solely on the line is a somewhat mute point. Tied for the 3rd fewest sacks allowed this season, the offensive line has done their job for the most part providing Foles time to find his targets downfield.
Nick Foles is still trying to “prove” his worth right now to general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly. After an offseason filled with big spending on quarterbacks around the league, the Eagles’ brass needs to make sure they make the right move if they decide to lock up Foles as their franchise quarterback and invest that kind of money and resources into him. 27 touchdowns and 2 picks is nothing to scoff at, but is it repeatable? Highly unlikely. Is a minor regression toward the NFL mean more likely? Yes, that is undoubtedly more probable. The Eagles are not in any rush to make a major move with Foles as he’s still under contract throughout the 2015 season on his rookie deal, but they need to see more out of him before signing him for a franchise-altering deal.
If Foles wants to take this team to the next level, he and Kelly need to find a way that they can use Foles in a manner in which he’s set up to succeed. Only rookie Blake Bortles has more turnovers than Nick Foles this season, and the Eagles need to remedy this situation immediately before the losses start piling on. Running the football heavily and setting Foles up in high completion percentage plays should be part of next week’s script against Houston if they want to turn Foles’ accuracy problems around. Offensive guru Chip Kelly needs to get his quarterback back on track if he has any hopes of seizing the NFC East again as the Eagles enter a tough next two months of football.
The Eagles got lucky with a Dallas Cowboys loss last week, but if they want to take control out of their division, they need Foles to be more accurate and protective of the football before it’s too late.