The Eagles scored 49 points last week. Nick Foles threw seven touchdown passes. Maybe an even more impressive stat is that the Eagles went 4 for 4 in the red zone. It's been a long time since that happened.
There were a variety of reasons for the red zone success, but one of the keys is the play of Foles. Put simply, he found the open guy and got him the ball. Foles ability to find the open receiver isn't as easy as it sounds.
The red zone is a tight, congested area. You have 20 yards of field and 10 yards of end zone. The defense doesn't have to worry about getting beaten deep. Defensive backs still want to keep everything in front of them, but they can play more aggressively knowing that there is limited space for the offense to work with.
Since the red zone is more congested, that means tighter passing windows. Receivers aren't going to be as open as they might in other parts of the field. Quarterbacks must do two things. First, they must be willing to throw to a receiver that is covered. You don't force the ball to a spot where the defender can get it. The quarterback has to put the ball in a spot where his receiver has a chance to make a play.
The quarterback also has to anticipate plays. He needs to make good pre-snap reads. He then has to have a feel for who is likely to be open. You can't react in the red zone. You must anticipate so that when the player does come open you can get him the ball immediately.
Foles has proven to be good at both things. Michael Vick struggled with them.
Just how good has Foles been in the red zone? The Eagles are 8 for 11 in red zone chances with him at quarterback. That's incredibly impressive, but it gets even better than that when you go inside the numbers.
The first red zone "failure" came in the Giants game. Foles came off the bench late in the first half and led the offense from the Eagles seven-yard line down to the Giants 18. The drive didn't stall. The Eagles just ran out of time and kicked a field goal.
The next "failure" came late in the Tampa game. The Eagles held a 28-20 lead and drove the ball from midfield down into scoring position. The goal was to work the clock and control the ball. The Eagles didn't throw a single pass on the drive. They kicked a field goal and won 31-20.
The only legitimate red zone failure with Foles at quarterback came in the Dallas game. Even then, Foles had Jason Avant open for a touchdown and just made a sloppy throw.
The Eagles are really 8 for 9 in the red zone with Foles. That is incredible.
Now think about this. The eight touchdowns with Foles came on seven touchdown passes and one touchdown run. That scoring run was Foles quarterback draw against the Buccaneers. Foles is responsible for all eight scores in the red zone. LeSean McCoy has not scored a red zone touchdown with Foles on the field. His only score is a 25-yard touchdown reception from last week.
That isn't to say McCoy hasn't helped. You can bet defenses are focusing on him. It just seems crazy to think that Foles is doing so well in the red zone with minimal production from McCoy.
As a passer in the red zone, Foles is 12 for 15 for 95 yards. He has seven touchdowns. His rating is 132.6. He hasn't turned the ball over and he's only been sacked once. Michael Vick is 5 for 19 for 38 yards. He has one touchdown pass in the red zone. Vick has run for two scores.
Even as a rookie, Foles was effective in the red zone. He threw four touchdown passes and finished with a rating of 88.1. He didn't throw any picks and was sacked twice. Foles did get lucky that some potential picks were dropped. He made some questionable decisions, as you would expect a rookie to do. Foles has shown great improvement in the red zone this season.
Red zone play is really crucial in today's NFL. Games are generally close and setting for field goals can directly lead to losses. Foles obviously won't be able to keep up an 8 for 9 pace. That's 89 percent and beyond ridiculous. Good teams score touchdowns 60 percent of the time. The Broncos record-setting offense is up above 78 percent this year.
Foles doesn't need to be great in the end zone. When that happens, you score 49 points. He just needs to show that he can be consistently good. That's how you score touchdowns and win games. And keep your job as the starting quarterback.