In honor Nick Foles being named #70 on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players we'll dedicate #16 of the ChipWagon Top 25 to our newly crowned franchise QB. Of course until Nick can prove for another season, and earn a long-term contract with the Eagles, the debate around Nick Foles' 2013 season will rage on. Seems Gregg Rosenthal from NFL.com is the latest of doubters:
If you want to crown Nick Foles now, then crown him. But he is not who you think he is. Not yet anyhow.
After 11 starts, we know that Foles has great numbers. But he often doesn't play to his box score when you turn on Game Rewind. Foles benefited from fantastic pass protection and a quarterback-friendly scheme around him. He took advantage of his surroundings with good decision-making and a surprisingly accurate deep ball.
Foles was usually not the primary reason Philadelphia won games. One typical example: TheEagles beat a very good Arizona team despite Foles not being sharp. (Carson Palmer was mostly better that day.) Foles was a cog in the bigger Eagles offensive machine, which is a sign of good coaching. The Eagles tried not to ask him to do too much.
I'm not sure naming Nick Foles #70 after the phenomeonal 2013 season he put up is "crowning him". There are still 10 QBs yet to be named on that list. QB is the premier position in the league. Of course guys that register 27 TDs and 2 INTs in 10 starts are going to get some recognition. Rosenthal is acting as though Foles made the Top 10 on this list.
Also, anyone who finds that 2nd paragraph a little contradictory, raise your hand. I also like how he used one game as a "typical" example. So does that mean I can use the Raiders game to simply counteract that argument? Also, should I point out that the Cardinals had a top 10 defense last year, one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and an excellent pressure defense. The Cardinals defense was Top 10 in points allowed, run defense, sacks, and INTs. The held Lesean McCoy to one of his lowest outputs of the season all day and Foles got pummeled for 5 sacks.
Yet, in a game where you can't get your running game going, and your QB gets sacked 5 times, how often do they end up with a statline of 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and 0 fumbles. I'd say Nick more than held his one in that game. Did the Cardinals make him uncomfortable at times? Of course, but that's what they do. You might recall that's the game where we thought Nick threw his first INT of the season on a terrible decision under pressure. Turns out he got lucky and that was called back on a penalty.
Either way, I find it curious that Gregg Rosenthal chose to pick the Cards game as his main point of evidence that Nick Foles doesn't play to his box score when you turn on Game Rewind. Just so happens to be a game where I broke down the Game Rewind to highlight how good Nick was in that game beyond his box score. I also just happened to feature a couple great plays from that very game in my post yesterday. This was the first game that showed Nick could "handle" a pressure defense. Other things to note from that game not in Nick's favor was that his Pro Bowl WR was neutralized by fellow Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. Desean was 3 for 36 and one catch came on a 25 yard wheel route with Desean lined up in the backfield. So Nick and Chip Kelly responded by featuring the tight ends in this game for 97 yards and 3 TDs.
Anyway, it turns out that #16 is one of the plays from this very game. One thing I wanted to emphasize about Nick Foles' performance in 2013 was behind all those gawdy stats and highlight deep balls down the field, one of the most impressive and encouraging things about Nick Foles the QB is his poise and instincts when the play breaks down. We'll feature a lot of these "little things" in the Top 15 over the next coming weeks but I think it's important to show that there is more to Nick Foles that a fantasy stat line. Through the course of the 2013 season Nick made a lot of subtle plays that caught my eye oftentimes more than the highlight plays. Here are a couple that highlight live instincts that you just can't coach:
It's 2nd and 1 and the whole left side of the offensive line go for the cut block in hopes to get a quick out to Zach Ertz at the top of the screen:
The two Cards defenders do a nice job of staying on their feet and both are bearing down on Foles. Nick doesn't panic (many QBs we'll see either surrender to the ground at this point, or try to run out of the pocket). Instead he pump fakes to Ertz and gets Campbell and Shaughnessy up in the air for the batted pass:
Foles then steps up, improvises and find an open Brent Celek underneath for the first down. It's also comical to watch Daryl Washington in coverage on this play. He initially has Celek blanketed but he also bites hard on the Nick Foles pump fake:
It should be noted he ends up taking a pretty big hit for this, so credit to Foles for keeping the play alive and converting a key 1st down in the 4th quarter.
Here's another great example from the Raiders game where the Raiders do a great job taking away the bubble option at the top. Rolando McClain (highlighted below) is left unblocked. He reads it well and doesn't crash down on McCoy. Foles should be dead in the water, but again he pumps, gets McClain up in the air and scrambles for a first down: