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Re-examining Nick Foles

How does the start of his career compare?



Been swamped the past few days, hence the lack of posts. I originally intended to just post my normal post-game notes, but I think at this point everyone has already read enough about that game. It was awesome, encouraging, etc.., but it was also against the Raiders, so let’s try to contain ourselves just a bit.

I do, though, want to talk more about Nick Foles (of course). A few points:

- First, I promised to update this chart (Foles’ rating by game), so here it is: Screen-shot-2013-11-07-at-9-23-18-am_medium

You can come to your own conclusions. Remember, I only included games in which Foles threw at least 10 passes.

- Nick Foles DID play last year. In some of the write-ups about him that I’ve seen, its as though the kid’s first action came this season. It didn’t. He played in 7 games last year and had 265 pass attempts. He finished with a QB Rating of 79.1, which as I’ve showed, is VERY good for a rookie. He did benefit from some dropped interceptions, so have to discount the rating, but he ALSO played behind a bad O-Line and, at times, didn’t have his best "weapons".

So it’s not as if his performance over the past few weeks came out of nowhere (both good and bad). Over the entire offseason, I tried to emphasize that Foles’ performance as a rookie was strong, and while he wasn’t (and still isn’t) the definite "answer", his play certainly should have earned him a chance to start.

- What exactly are Foles’ strengths and weaknesses? Coming into this year, I thought we had Foles pegged. He showed good pocket awareness and was very accurate on the short-intermediate throws. The big question marks involved his arm strength. He struggled a bit on sideline throws and while he was able to get the ball downfield, his accuracy on those throws was poor.

Well….the past two starts for Foles have completely undercut those assumptions. Against Dallas, his short-throw accuracy was terrible and his awareness was severely lacking. Conversely, against the Raiders, he clearly demonstrated an ability to not only push the ball downfield on deep throws, but to do so with good accuracy. I mentioned at the end of last year and over the offseason that the deep-throw accuracy was something he SHOULD be able to improve upon, whether through better technique or actual strength-training. It’s possible what we saw against the Raiders was an outgrowth of that type of improvement.

Overall, we essentially have to completely rebuild our assumptions about him. Barring another Cowboys-like performance, I’d be surprised if Foles didn’t start the rest of the way, so we should get plenty of chances to refine our expectations, but for now we’re back to square one. Theoretically, he CAN do everything (except run fast). But we need to know which parts of his game are consistent enough to be called "strengths" and which ones are inconsistent enough to be called "weaknesses".

- How does he stack up when compared to other notable QBs? I wanted to do a full post on this, but it looks like ChipWagon beat me to it, at least partially. However, let me take an abbreviated crack at it. Here is Nick Foles, in comparison to notable quarterbacks over similar Pass Attempt samples to start their careers. Note, this is by no means a representative sample. I picked QBs who are both successful and had a similar number of attempts their first year in the league (so I didn’t have to calculate). Big note here is that Foles’ numbers are over parts of the first 2 seasons, whereas the rest came from 1 season (I did include the 3 attempts Brady had his rookie season).


So…yeah, pretty good. The interception rate in particular is phenomenal. Remember that Foles benefited from a relatively high number of dropped INTs last year. However, this year I don’t recall seeing many, though I haven’t seen the actual count from Football Outsiders (I don’t think it’s available until year-end, if I’m wrong about this please tell me). Also, despite Foles famous lack of speed, his sack rate is either better or comparable to every player in that table other than Matt Ryan, including noted mobility expert Tony Romo. To beat a dead horse, POCKET mobility and awareness is much more important that straight line speed or rushing ability.

The biggest caveat, of course, is that we’re looking at these numbers after perhaps the greatest statistical performance by a QB in the history of the NFL. That’s a bad time to do it, but I didn’t want to wait. To rectify, I’ll update Foles’ numbers after this week and maybe each week from here on so we can get a continuing look at how he stacks up.

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