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Fan-Demonium: This QB Is For Real

Posted Aug 23, 2012

Fan-Demonium

Eagles fans have every right to be excited by what they are seeing out of Nick Foles.

He's just two games (preseason games that is) into his young career, but already Foles has shown signs that he has a bright NFL future.  Foles leads the NFL in passer rating.  He has led the Eagles on five touchdown drives.  The New York Jets have yet to score a touchdown in the preseason.  They have only three field goals in two games.  Maybe Foles can offer some advice to Rex Ryan on where the end zone is located.  (Can you tell that I'm still a tad bitter that the Jets lost to the Giants in December, costing the Eagles the division title?) 

Back to Foles.

Before we ship him off to Canton, Ohio to get his awkward yellow jacket, let's slow down a bit and remember that Foles has yet to face a true starting defense.  The Patriots had some starters on the field, but their defense was a mixture of players, minus all the key stars.  In the Steelers game, Foles faced only backups, and most of them were of the third string variety. 

That said, Foles is a rookie who is learning the NFL game.  The fact he's lighting up anyone is impressive.  He was the third-string quarterback up in Training Camp.  He had not played well enough to seriously challenge Mike Kafka for the backup job.  That all changed when the games began. 

I don't know if it is the fact that games bring out the best in Foles or if facing the Eagles’ defensive line at Lehigh was just overwhelming.  Whatever the case, Foles looks worlds different in the preseason than he did at Lehigh.  Foles was solid in camp.  He had some very good moments and showed promise.  You just didn't see anything that made you think he'd be atop the quarterback rating list two weeks into the preseason. 

A reporter recently asked Andy Reid if he could recall a rookie quarterback putting up numbers like this for the Eagles.  Reid couldn't think of anyone.  I decided to check out the numbers of the recent rookie passers that have come through Philly.  Put simply, Foles is in a whole other universe. 

Preseason Debuts
Quarterback Game 1 Game 2
Nick Foles (2012) 6/10, 144 yds., 2 TD, 0 INT 18/28, 217 yds., 2 TD, 1 INT
Mike Kafka (2010) 3/7, 76 yds., 0 TD, 0 INT 4/12, 29 yds., 0 TD, 2 INT
Kevin Kolb (2007) 11/20, 77 yds., 0 TD, 0 INT 11/16, 78 yds., 0 TD, 0 INT

Add up the stats for fun and compare. 

Foles is 24 of 38 for 361 yards with 4 touchdowns and one interception.  Kolb and Kafka combined are 29 for 55 for 260 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.  Is that crazy or what?  Kafka's best preseason game came in his sixth outing.  That was game two of 2011 (Kafka's second season) when he took on the Steelers’ backups.  Kafka finished 14 of 19 for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

Numbers aside, is Foles for real?  He sure looks like the real deal.  This isn't a case of him throwing short passes that are going for huge gains.  This isn't a bunch of fluke plays that are pumping up his numbers.  Foles passes the eye test.  The best compliment that I can give him is that he doesn't look like a rookie. 

When you go back and carefully study his play you see a very impressive player, rookie or not.  He shows the physical skills to be a starting quarterback.  Foles has a good arm.  He can get the ball downfield.  He can get the ball out to the sidelines.  He is big and strong.  Foles took a couple of big shots in Monday's game and got right up.  He's more mobile than anyone expected.  He even had a 24-yard scramble in the game. 

Not only is Foles physically gifted, he has good quarterback skills.  Foles threw the ball very well on Monday.  He was accurate.  Too many people think of completion percentage when they hear this.  I'm talking about ball placement.  Foles put the ball where his receivers could catch it easily.  No one was reaching back for the ball.  No one had to bend over to pluck a pass off the ground.  The ball was out in front of the targets.  The passes were delivered at the appropriate speed.   A couple of them were lasers since they had to go through traffic.  Other passes had touch so that the receiver could make a difficult grab. 

A lot of quarterbacking is mental.  Foles was very good in this area.  He generally made good reads and quick, smart decisions.  He spread the ball around, to various players and various spots.  This shows you that he wasn't locking in to one thing.  Foles handled pressure well.  He never panicked.  I liked how he was able to anticipate some plays and then get the ball to the right player on time.  He wasn't just waiting for guys to come open. 

Foles isn't perfect.  He made a couple of errors.  He forced a pass late in the first half that was picked off.  He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.  The defense left a receiver "open," but there were players around him.  The defense is daring the quarterback to throw.  Foles got greedy and went for Maclin in the end zone.  The safety got the ball easily.  Not only did Foles make a poor decision, his throw was too far inside and lacked velocity.  The other error was a pass to DeSean Jackson along the right sideline.  Foles was slow to read this and made the throw late.  That allowed the corner to jump the route.  Luckily, he dropped the ball. 

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

I was blown away by the poise that Foles showed.  He made sure to get out of bounds on his long scramble.  He threw the ball to the sideline on other plays on the drive at the end of the half.  Foles ran the huddle like a veteran.  You didn't see wasted timeouts.  You didn't see players running around confused.  That was his offense and he ran it accordingly.  Put simply, he looked and acted like a veteran quarterback. 

We see this more and more in football.  Kids today play in complex passing offenses in junior high and even pee-wee leagues.  They are accomplished passers by the time they get to high school.  I can remember going to a high school playoff game about 20 years ago.  One team featured a run 'n shoot offense.  Everyone looked at them as if they were cheaters and from some other planet.  While the run 'n shoot is gone, the spread passing attack is a variation of it.  Foles was a great passer in high school. He broke all of Drew Brees’ school records.  He was a great passer at Arizona.  Now, he's in the NFL and being in a complex passing offense just doesn't scare him.  Been there, done that. 

Friday night Foles will start and could play the entire first half.  He will lead the Eagles’ starters against the Browns’ starters.  This is going to be the biggest test yet.  If Foles can continue his level of success, I think he will be the backup quarterback going into the season.  That's a big deal for the Eagles since Michael Vick has only started all 16 games just once in his career.  There is a good chance the backup will start a game or two.  The notion of Foles filling that role seemed crazy to me just a month ago, but now it makes a lot of sense.  He might be a rookie, but he also might be the best man for the job.  He certainly does look like a future starter.  I wasn't a huge fan of the Foles pick, but I am very happy to be wrong on that.  Kudos to Reid and Howie Roseman for picking him and to the coaches for developing him. 

OTHER ROSTER GEMS 

DE Phillip Hunt Stop thinking of him as a guy fighting for a spot.  Hunt is on the team.  He's gone from roster battle to being a player the coaches want on the field a lot. 

RB Bryce Brown Wow, did the Eagles hit a home run with this seventh-round pick.  His combination of size, speed, and running skills is very impressive.  He gets better each game. 

LB Mychal Kendricks - He made significant progress from the opener to Monday's game.  He is fast, smart and skilled.  I think the Eagles finally found us a stud linebacker. 

TE Clay Harbor Forget Visanthe Shiancoe and Jeremy Shockey.  Harbor has looked great since he got to Lehigh and that continued into the preseason games.  He is going to force the coaches to get him the ball. 

WR DeSean Jackson – I was close to being ready for the Eagles to part ways with him in January.  I can’t stand players who don't match their talent with equal effort.  Jackson was a mess in 2011.  He was terrific on Monday.  The new deal has made him a new man.  I hope he's back to being the guy of 2008 and 2009.  That player was terrific. 

S Jaiquawn Jarrett He had a miserable showing in the opener.  I'm very happy to report that he played pretty well against the Patriots.  He still isn't a lock for the roster, but Jarrett showed a lot of heart in bouncing back from a nightmare game.  Good for him.  Keep it up.

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