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Nick Foles: Quarterback of the Future

Just hopefully not our future.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With all of this “Big [you know what] Nick” talk, I’ve become afraid that people actually think keeping Nick Foles in lieu of Carson Wentz moving forward is the answer. Because of this, I thought it might be fun to embark on a journey to determine which quarterback is definitively better and why. To do this, I collected 5 quarterbacks, all of who have thrown at least 600 passes since at least 2015, collected their data over the past 4 seasons, playoffs included, and given them aliases to blindly compare them. 1 of these quarterbacks is Carson Wentz, 1 is Nick Foles, and the other 3 are relevant quarterbacks who will be revealed later on.

Metric 1: Productivity

To begin, lets look at some spider graphs because who the hell doesn’t love some spider graphs:

QB ‘A’ has been very middle of the road in terms of passer rating. His weakness seems to be when facing pressure, but otherwise he seems to be a very middle of the road quarterback in terms of passer rating, which admittedly, is not a “tell all” statistic.

QB ‘B’, who has been a top 10 player in terms of passer rating, seems to excel all over the board, but especially when using the help of play action.

Even more impressive is QB ‘C’ who is a top 10 QB in all categories except for when facing pressure. In terms of passer rating along, QB ‘C’ is the Belle of the Ball, if you will.

While at initial glance, QB ‘D’ does not look too impressive. It must be noted that when throwing from a clean pocket, however, this player has been a top 10 quarterback. This is significant because success from a clean pocket is generally one of the most stable statistics for a quarterback, while success when facing pressure can fluctuate much more.

Introducing QB ‘E’. Every mountain has a valley and this QB is certainly the worst of the bunch when comparing the players from their passer ratings alone.

QB ‘C’ - 31
QB ‘B’ - 29
QB ‘A’ - 21
QB ‘D’ - 20
QB ‘E’ - 4

Metric 2: Accuracy

ACC% is a Pro Football Focus “Premium” statistic that is calculated as follows:

I prefer to use this completion percentage mostly because it helps eliminate all of the excuses people make for their quarterbacks. Spikes and drops obviously should not be used when evaluating a quarterback. Batted passes, hits as thrown, and throwaways are all situational, but shouldn’t be used to evaluate a quarterbacks accuracy. Anyways, here’s how our five quarterbacks stack up against each other:

QB ‘C’ - 34
QB ‘B’ - 28
QB ‘A’ - 24
QB ‘E’ - 14
QB ‘D’ - 13

Metric 3: Escapability

An important thing for a quarterback to be able to do is survive pressure. As noted above, a QBs passer rating when facing pressure is generally considered to be an unstable metric, but when simply looking at the average yards gained (or lost) per play when facing pressure can be a better way to evaluate their “Escapability”.

Since 2015, 1646 interceptions have been thrown. Those 1646 picks were returned for a total of 23,298 yards. Because of this, I will treat every interception as a loss of 14.15 yards. I am standardizing this value because the length of the return is rarely directly dependent on the quarterback himself. This will be subtracted from the total yards gained when facing pressure (passing or scrambling). The yardage lost from sacks will also be subtracted from this. Finally, this value will be divided by the number of times said quarterback faced pressure.

Yet again, QB ‘C’ is dominating the competition. Any clue who it is yet?

QB ‘C’ - 27
QB ‘B’ - 22
QB ‘E’ - 20
QB ‘A’ - 7
QB ‘D’ - 6

Metric 4: Ability to Win

To put it simply, advanced stats have shown that quarterback play is, far and away, more correlated with winning than the play of any other position. Because of this, a quarterback who wins more is likely the quarterback who plays better, right?

Finally a metric that has QB ‘C’ taking a step back. QBs ‘B’, ‘D’, & ‘E’ are all top 10 as far as winning quarterbacks go.

QB ‘B’ - 35
QB ‘D’ - 31
QB ‘E’ - 29
QB ‘A’ - 26
QB ‘C’ - 17

Metric 5: The “Eye” Test

Since I am not going to pretend that I have watched all 37 quarterbacks over the past 4 seasons, I am going to leave this metric up to PFF. Averaging the grades of all 37 quarterbacks over the past four seasons, our 5 QBs ranked out as follows:

QB ‘A’ - Average Grade: 78.1 (9th)

QB ‘B’ - Average Grade: 76.8 (11th)

QB ‘C’ - Average Grade: 75.4 (15th)

QB ‘D’ - Average Grade 68.0 (27th)

QB ‘E’ - Average Grade 68.4 (25th)

QB ‘A’ - 29
QB ‘B’ - 27
QB ‘C’ - 23
QB ‘E’ - 13
QB ‘D’ - 11


So if you’ve been wondering why I would keep the scores in such a wacky way, its so I could keep all 37 qualifying quarterbacks in the mix. From our 5 selected ones, here is how they finish:

Total Scores (Rank out of the 37 QBs):
QB ‘B’ => 38 - (29 + 28 + 22 + 35 + 27) / 5 = 9.8 (6th/37)
QB ‘C’ => 38 - (31 + 34 + 27 + 17 + 23) / 5 = 11.6 (9th/37)
QB ‘A’ => 38 - (21 + 24 + 7 + 26 + 29) / 5 = 16.6 (16th/37)
QB ‘D’ => 38 - (20 + 13 + 6 + 31 + 11) / 5 = 21.8 (22nd/37)
QB ‘E’ => 38 - (4 + 14 + 20 + 29 + 13) / 5 = 22.0 (23rd/37)

As for our mystery men, QB ‘B’, unfortunately, is none other than, Dak Prescott. Dak is the only quarterback out of the five who finished in the top 16 in all five metrics.

QB ‘C’ is Kirk Cousins. Cousins fell behind in the win %, but otherwise was able to finish among the top 16 in 4 of the 5 categories.

Our own Carson Wentz was QB ‘A’. Wentz, somewhat surprisingly, finished 31st/37 in the escapability category, which really brought his overall ranking down. While his ability to make spectacular plays when facing pressure is good for some highlight reels, the yards he’s lost via sacks as well as his poor TD/INT ratio (when under pressure) brought his ranking down significantly.

In 4th place was QB ‘D’, aka Jared Goff. Its refreshing to see Carson beat out the number 1 overall pick from the same draft class. Although it must be noted, if we were looking at 2018 alone, Goff would have been one of the top QBs of the bunch.

Finally, in last place out of the 5, was the guy we are rooting for to take us to the dance, again: Nick Foles. Foles has an excellent win% (9th/37) but otherwise rated very low in four out of the five categories. There is something to be said about a leader who can make his team win, and in Nick’s defense, he seemingly very good at this.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how all 37 quarterbacks rated against each other:

While I truly did this exercise blindly, it is no surprise to see names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan at the top of the table. Its also not a surprise to see names such as Blake Bortles, Eli Manning (2015 and on, remember), and Brock Osweiler at the bottom of the table.

While these results should not necessarily be taken as me proclaiming that Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott are better than Carson Wentz, it absolutely should be taken as a warning to those who believe Carson is the best QB in the league. He has played relatively average all things considered, and while I believe he has all the tools to be one of the premier QBs in the league, truth is, he really hasn’t been. On the flip side, I don’t think Nick Foles is quite as bad as this exercise made him look, but it is curious that when blindly graded quarterbacks by five key metrics that I believe encompass QB play, Foles graded in the lower half of the league.

Here’s to hoping I’m wrong and that Nick Foles is ready to get his second Super Bowl MVP in February!

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