Part of a new campaign the SB Nation NFL blogs will be participating during this 2014 season involves answering questions posed by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk, who is also an analyst at NFL Network, asked his latest question in the video above.
"To be Professional Grade, you must be prepared for every situation. Imagine your team facing its next opponent. You’re down by six, with 2 minutes left, on your own 30. I wanna know right now, what does your team do. Do they win, or do they lose?"
Well, Marshall, the Eagles already faced a similar situation just a few weeks ago in San Francisco. After being denied on 4th and goal from the 2-yard line, Philadelphia burned their timeouts and forced the 49ers to punt. The Eagles were down five points and had the ball at their own 31 with 1:23 remaining. The last-ditch effort didn't go very well. The Eagles ran 4 plays for -14 yards and the game ended with a Nick Foles interception.
With this is mind, the Eagles were in a really bad spot. They only had one of their five starting offensive lineman in place (Jason Peters at left tackle). They couldn't stop the clock. The run game was non-existent and the offense barely showed any signs of life.
Put in the same situation now, the Eagles would probably have a better chance. Three of the team's five starting offensive linemen (as opposed to just one) are now back in place. In turn, LeSean McCoy's struggles have lessened.
With two minutes to go and counting, however, most of the pressure would be on quarterback Nick Foles to move the ball down the field through the air. Right now, it's a little unclear how he would perform in that situation. Foles currently leads the NFL in turnovers; he's thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles. That's ten turnovers in just six games for a pace of 27 on the season (compared to 27 on pace touchdowns). Make any excuse that you want, but he just hasn't taken care of the ball very well.
Of all NFL quarterbacks with a minimum of 50 passes attempts, Foles is just one of eight quarterbacks to complete less than 60% of his passes and average lower than 7.0 yards per attempt. The other seven quarterbacks include: E.J. Manuel, Matt Cassel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Chad Henne, and Drew Stanton. Not exactly great company.
Even in Philadelphia's most recent game against the New York Giants, where Foles showed signs of improvement, he made two crucial mistakes. His first interception took points off the board while the second one almost handed points to the G-men on a silver platter.
Here's a look at the first mistake again.
Really just a terrible decision. Keep in mind, the Eagles were up 20-0 and it was first down!
My intent was not to make this a Foles-bashing piece. But given his less than stellar play, I'm really not sure how to answer Faulk's posed question. Given the offensive talent and coaching on this 5-1 team, I do think there is a good chance the Eagles can win in a pressure scenario. At the same time, I question the amount of confidence there is in Foles. Keep in mind the Eagles took the ball out of his hands on third down late against the Rams when they could have tried to pick up a first through the air.
There's still plenty of time left in the season (see: 10 games) for Foles to turn things around and cut down on the turnovers. His performance against the Giants was generally encouraging.
So, what do you think? And how would you grade Foles' performance this season so far? What's your confidence level in Nick Foles?