Nick Foles strengths and weaknesses

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What does Nick Foles do best? How can he improve?

Throughout the past couple of weeks we've taken a closer look at Nick Foles by the numbers thanks to data from a Pro Football Focus series on NFL quarterbacks. PFF has now shifted gears in their QB series by focusing on individual quarterbacks instead of non-specific QB data. Eagles starting signal caller Nick Foles was the most recent QB to be put under the microscope. (So was former Eagles and current Jets QB Michael Vick, if you're interested in seeing his numbers.) You can check out the entire data graphs on PFF's website but for now I'm going to do my best to give context to Foles' highlighted strengths and weaknesses. Note that these numbers are based on PFF's grading system (everyone's favorite!).

Strengths

•  Ranked second in the league at +11.2 on passes in the 11-to-20-yard range.
•  Among the league’s best on throws of 30+ yards (+3.3) and 40+ yards (+3.0).
•  Graded at +10.5 on throws between the numbers and +7.3 outside the numbers on the right.
•  Graded at +3.7 with a 131.8 passer rating against the blitz. Those numbers rose to a +7.2 grade and 153.5 rating when the blitz didn’t result in pressure.
•  Ranked fourth with a +10.7 grade on drop-backs of 9 or more yards.
•  Ranked fourth on passes lasting at least 3.6 seconds at +9.1.
•  Best routes were the posts (+4.3) and in routes (+3.1).

The first thing that stands out is Foles' success throwing the deep ball. Foles attempted yards of 20+ yards more  on 17.4% of his snaps, which was more than any other QB. He threw for 803 yards and 14 TD (1 INT) on 25/55 passing. Having one of the best deep threats in the league in DeSean Jackson certainly helped in this respect: 16 receptions of 20+ yards for 553 yards, 8 TDs.

Foles held up well against the blitz. A combination of good protection from the offensive line and composure helped in this area. When the blitz was sent and didn't get home, Foles absolutely shredded defenses.

It's not a surprise to see Foles grade positively on long-passes because he drops back far and holds onto the ball for long amounts of time. These factors likely tie into his deep ball success. Out of all NFL QBs that recorded 50% snaps played, Foles took the longest to attempt at an average of 2.88 seconds.

Weaknesses

•  Graded at -2.3 on passes in the 21-to-30-yard range.
•  Strugged on passes outside the numbers to the left at -3.5.
•  Graded at -3.5 against blitz pressure.
•  Posted negative grades on passes that lasted up to 2.5 seconds; graded positively on those lasting at least 2.5 seconds.
•  Lowest grade by route was a -0.1 on go routes.

The weaknesses are more interesting to me. From a statistical standpoint, Foles was so good last year. The numbers almost make it seem like he was flawless, but I'm not sure that always matched up with what the tape looked like.

Foles' struggles between the 21-30 is interesting. It was just noted above how he really excelled in the 11-20 and 30+/40+ ranges. So why the struggles in the intermediate passing game? Perhaps this an area that could see improvement with the upgraded additions (see: Jordan Matthews) at the slot receiver position and the emergence of Zach Ertz.

Foles is right-handed so it's no surprise to see he struggled on passes to the left. He doesn't have the advantage of rolling left and throwing a good ball without getting his body turned around.

It was already noted that Foles performed well against the blitz. The exception was when the blitz was really effective. Seems like an obvious statement because, well, it is. The takeaway here is that Foles lacks the ability to escape from these situations. What makes matters more difficult is Foles' tendency to hold onto the ball which give defenses time to get to him.

Tendencies

•  Led the league with 92.5% of his drop-backs coming from the shotgun or pistol.
•  8.0% of his passes came on scrambles outside the pocket, above the league average of 5.6%.
•  Threw the highest percentage of passes at 20+ yards (18.9%) and 30+ yard (7.0%).
•  Threw 31.6% of his passes outside the numbers to his right, third-highest in the league.
•  Overall, 54.6% of his passes went outside the numbers, fifth-highest in the league.
•  Dropped back to 9 or more yards on 38.5% of his drop-backs, sixth-highest in the league.
•  26.6% of passes lasted at least 3.6 seconds, fourth-highest in the league.
•  Threw the highest percentage of screens in the league at 17.5% of his total drop-backs.
•  Threw crossing routes on 16.1% of his drop-backs, highest percentage in the league.
•  Threw the lowest percentage of slants in the league at 3.1%

I already wrote about Foles tendencies. More on that here.

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So what do you think? What are the biggest strengths/weaknesses in Foles' game? How can he improve?

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