I know a fair share of people get upset when we write about former Eagles players ("THEY'RE NOT ON THE TEAM ANYMORE!"), but I couldn't help but notice Nick Foles has been a big topic of discussion in St. Louis this week. Quite a few Rams writers have identified him as the primary weakness of the team.
Here's what Benjamin Hochman wrote in a column titled "Foles looks like weak link":
"The truth was in the dare. I was telling the boys — ‘Are they serious, do they really want to give us the ball?’" recalled Rams receiver Kenny Britt, in what surely sounded like loquacious squawking. But they were serious — the Vikings dared Nick Foles to try to beat them with a touchdown ... and Nick Foles responded like Nick Foles. Yup, the Rams signed a guy to be a franchise quarterback, and Rams opponents want him to have the ball in overtime. Even an overtime win Sunday wouldn’t have masked the overall issue — Foles is flimsy and fallible, and the Rams’ offense has been reduced to surviving with him at the helm."
Think about that. The Vikings were so unthreatened by Foles, who ranked as THE worst quarterback in Week 9, that they gave him the ball first in overtime. Hochman also points out point how the Rams even ran the ball on 3rd-and-11 at one key point because they didn't trust Foles to get them a first down with his arm.
Bernie Miklasz weighed in on Foles with a column of his own: "Question on Nick Foles: Is This As Good As It Gets? Hope Not."
I keep saying and writing that Foles has yet to fully define himself … and that we’re waiting to see exactly what the Rams have in Foles, who came here from Philadelphia in the offseason trade for Sam Bradford.
The problem: the more Foles plays, the more he’s exposed.
Foles has had some excellent turns in games; he was superb in his team’s two finest wins, over Seattle and Arizona. But the negatives are more prevalent and can’t be ignored or finessed. Foles simply isn’t getting enough done, and the weakness of this pass-game offense makes the coaching staff even more determined to run the football. We saw that in Minnesota, when the Rams had such little interest in passing they might as well as have adopted the Navy triple-option offense. Fisher has little confidence or trust in his offense to move the ball through the air. It couldn’t be more obvious.
The Rams’ third-down futility is the most corrosive element in their frequent breakdowns. As I mentioned in another piece here on 101sports.com, the Rams’ current third-down conversion rate (23.7%) is the worst by an NFL team since STATS LLC began officially tracking the stat in 1972. I believe that speaks for itself; this is brutal.
Personally, I’m still waiting to see a reason to believe that Foles is an upgrade over Sam Bradford.
The offensive ineptitude is apparent. The Rams' passing offense ranks 30th overall by Football Outsiders. Check out this stat:
Since the bye, the Rams have converted four of 37 third downs.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) November 8, 2015
There are obviously more factors to this number than Foles alone, but he's a big part of their struggles. Foles has only managed to throw 1,310 yards through eight starts this season. Look what kind of terrible company that puts him in:
QBs with 1,310 yards or less thru 8 starts since 2000: Rick Mirer, V. Young, B. Quinn, A. Brooks, Q. Carter, Doug Pederson, and Nick Foles.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 8, 2015
Yikes. Here's how Foles ranks in several key stats so far this season: 30th in completion percentage, 28th in yards per attempt, 29th in passer rating, 27th in DVOA, 29th in QBR, and 28th by PFF grade.
It's true that Sam Bradford hasn't been much better. In fact, he's been a little worse in some respects. Bradford ranks 22nd in completion percentage, 31st in yards per attempt, 31st in passer rating, 25th in DVOA, 32nd in QBR, and 17th by PFF grade. But Bradford being bad doesn't mean Chip Kelly was wrong to get rid of Foles. It just means that the "upgrade" Kelly envisioned was the wrong pick so far.
For those saying keeping Foles would have been the better option because the Eagles would at least have their second round pick and more cap space ... that's a non-starter. The Eagles would still be in a bad position because Foles clearly wasn't the answer. It's like picking between driving two broken cars, except one has a nice air freshener. You're still not driving anywhere either way.
And for all the complaining about the lack of a second round pick, keep in mind the Eagles do have a very high 2016 third round pick if the Lions continue to lose. And were the Eagles really going to use that second round pick to find their franchise quarterback answer anyway? It's not impossible, but it's probably not very likely. When it comes to cap space, that has never been the issue when trying to find a franchise passer.
There's still a lot of season left for Foles and/or Bradford to turn things around. For now, it's pretty clear the Foles-Bradford trade hasn't worked out too great for either side.