As we break into the top 10 of the Top 25 I wanted to highlight one of favorite Nick Foles throws of last year. Perhaps this one doesn't deserve a #9 ranking considering some of the other plays we've highlighted in this series, but I thought it was only appopriate to highlight the flawless execution of a fade route, a play that was largely absent from the red zone playbook during the Andy Reid era. In fairness to Andy, Donovan McNabb nor Michael Vick ever demonstrated the consistent accuracy and anticipation to make this throw and include it as a staple in the playbook:
The play starts with Desean on the top of the screen in one-on-one coverage against Prince Amukamara. The Giants DBs are quite physical and the scouting report on them is that they like to get their hands on receivers. As you see below, the beginning of the route starts with Desean stopping and looking back for the ball on the 1 yard line. Amukamara reacts and extends his hands out to Desean. At this point, Amukamara is cooked because as you can see the ball is well in the air from Foles' release:
Desean switches to the designed fade pattern and Nick throws an absolutely gorgeous ball and 5'9 Desean Jackson high points it over a helpless Prince:
Perhaps one of the more impressive things about this play/call was that Nick was not the starting QB at this point. He actually subbed into this game after Michael Vick got hurt. The fact that Chip Kelly had the confidence to call a play which requires excellent chemistry, timing, accuracy, and trust in a key spot in the game with a back-up QB tells you a lot about him. Furthermore it also highlights the importance that Chip Kelly placed on practice reps. No doubt, that Nick Foles took more practice reps than any #2 QB in the NFL during preseason and regular season leading up to this game. I am sure that went a long way in helping Foles develop the type of chemistry required to make these plays.
Finally, it's worth noting that fade patterns are often called for bigger WRs who can use their size as an advantage to out-jump the defender for the ball. Here we saw flawless execution with one of the shorter wide receivers in the NFL. This is notable considering the overhaul we've witnessed by Chip and Roseman during the offseason with more emphasis on size at the WR position. It's fair to assume that we'll see more fade patterns in the red zone in 2014. Hopefully enough of them to help our memories of Desean Jackson fade away.