Notes on Nick Foles

Been swamped the past few days, hence the lateness of this post.  I originally intended to just post my normal post-game notes, but I think at this point everyone has already read enough about that game.  It was awesome, encouraging, etc.., but it was also against the Raiders, so let’s try to contain ourselves just a bit.

I do, though, want to talk more about Nick Foles (of course).  A few points:

– First, I promised to update this chart (Foles’ rating by game), so here it is:

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 9.23.18 AM

You can come to your own conclusions.  Remember, I only included games in which Foles threw at least 10 passes.

Nick Foles DID play last year.  In some of the write-ups about him that I’ve seen, its as though the kid’s first action came this season.  It didn’t.  He played in 7 games last year and had 265 pass attempts.  He finished with a QB Rating of 79.1, which as I’ve showed, is VERY good for a rookie.  He did benefit from some dropped interceptions, so have to discount the rating, but he ALSO played behind a bad O-Line and, at times, didn’t have his best “weapons”.

So it’s not as if his performance over the past few weeks came out of nowhere (both good and bad).  Over the entire offseason, I tried to emphasize that Foles’ performance as a rookie was strong, and while he wasn’t (and still isn’t) the definite “answer”, his play certainly should have earned him a chance to start.

– What exactly are Foles’ strengths and weaknesses?  Coming into this year, I thought we had Foles pegged.  He showed good pocket awareness and was very accurate on the short-intermediate throws.  The big question marks involved his arm strength.  He struggled a bit on sideline throws and while he was able to get the ball downfield, his accuracy on those throws was poor.

Well….the past two starts for Foles have completely undercut those assumptions.  Against Dallas, his short-throw accuracy was terrible and his awareness was severely lacking.  Conversely, against the Raiders, he clearly demonstrated an ability to not only push the ball downfield on deep throws, but to do so with good accuracy.  I mentioned at the end of last year and over the offseason that the deep-throw accuracy was something he SHOULD be able to improve upon, whether through better technique or actual strength-training.  It’s possible what we saw against the Raiders was an outgrowth of that type of improvement.

Overall, we essentially have to completely rebuild our assumptions about him.  Barring another Cowboys-like performance, I’d be surprised if Foles didn’t start the rest of the way, so we should get plenty of chances to refine our expectations, but for now we’re back to square one.  Theoretically, he CAN do everything (except run fast).  But we need to know which parts of his game are consistent enough to be called “strengths” and which ones are inconsistent enough to be called “weaknesses”.

– How does he stack up when compared to other notable QBs?  I wanted to do a full post on this, but it looks like ChipWagon beat me to it, at least partially.  However, let me take an abbreviated crack at it.  Here is Nick Foles, in comparison to notable quarterbacks over similar Pass Attempt samples to start their careers.  Note, this is by no means a representative sample.  I picked QBs who are both successful and had a similar number of attempts their first year in the league (so I didn’t have to calculate).  Big note here is that Foles’ numbers are over parts of the first 2 seasons, whereas the rest came from 1 season (I did include the 3 attempts Brady had his rookie season).

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 9.37.29 AM

So…yeah, pretty good.  The interception rate in particular is phenomenal.  Remember that Foles benefited from a relatively high number of dropped INTs last year.  However, this year I don’t recall seeing many, though I haven’t seen the actual count from Football Outsiders (I don’t think it’s available until year-end, if I’m wrong about this please tell me).  Also, despite Foles famous lack of speed, his sack rate is either better or comparable to every player in that table other than Matt Ryan.  To beat a dead horse, POCKET mobility and awareness is much more important that straight line speed or rushing ability.

The biggest caveat, of course, is that we’re looking at these numbers after perhaps the greatest statistical performance by a QB in the history of the NFL.  That’s  a bad time to do it, but I didn’t want to wait.  To rectify, I’ll update Foles’ numbers after this week and maybe each week from here on so we can get a continuing look at how he stacks up.

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12 thoughts on “Notes on Nick Foles

  1. Very cool analysis. Regarding the influence of his OAK performance on the table, remember he also has the deplorable DAL game baked into the numbers as well. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Foles has had 2 games in his first 11 starts with ratings below 60 – exactly the same number as totaled by Luck, Kaepernick, and R. Wilson had in their first 11.

    • Good points, especially about Luck, Wilson and Kap. I’ll probably do a more comprehensive survey of this stuff next week.

      On Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Eagles Rewind

  2. Very cool. I also notice a very distinct upward trend line in Foles’ weekly QBR chart; and it becomes even more pronounced after the midway point. That almost suggests an acclimation period, followed by adjustment and success.

    Also, I know the “win projection” trajectory has sort of gone awry – which is to be expected on an almost annual basis – but it would be interesting to see an update on that after this GB game (which you penciled as a loss, but could now turn out to be a win).

    • The win projection isn’t as far off as you may think, though exactly where they came from has been a surprise. I’ll update that as well. It’s about time to check back in anyway.

      On Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 3:14 PM, Eagles Rewind

  3. So many message board comments pining for Wilson as am Eagle. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Foles turned out to be the elite QB?

    Your posts tend to clarify a variety of numbers in a way that’s quick and simple to understand. Thanks.

  4. “The biggest caveat, of course, is that we’re looking at these numbers after perhaps the greatest statistical performance by a QB in the history of the NFL.”

    Bingo.

    • Hmmm…..so by your reasoning, you throw out the best performance or at least discount it. I’ll play, but you have to throw out the Dallas performance since that was his worst. Without the Dallas performance, Nick Foles is even more impressive and there are no doubts about him. Times yours…..

      • I think “throwing out” is a bit strong. I was just pointing out that we’re biasing the analysis by choosing to do it after an obvious uptick. Had we done the same look last week (before the game), he would have looked a lot different (still good though). Obviously, that’d be just as bad, but from a different angle. Both games, Dallas and Oakland, have to be accounted for. I just wanted people to know that we can’t just draw a line here and compare Foles to others. Instead, I’ll continually update the table, and by the end of this year, we’ll have a comparison that we can feel much more confident in.

        Overall, I’m still firmly on #TeamFoles….

      • Yes, I discount it, and you should. As it is the highest possible score, there’s no possible way that the scores will ever stay as high as they are right now (unless of course, he continues to have perfect scores. He won’t.)

        You don’t need to remember back to Hoying (I don’t) to see what this kind of logic gets you. Ryan Fitzpatrick turned his hot start in Buffalo a few years back into a huge paycheck. It’s not to say that Foles will fall off the same cliff, but the long average of his stats tell a much more accurate story of his skill level than the numbers after the four starts that got him paid. These numbers, like Brent acknowledged, are pretty sweet, and as fans we should relish in them, because that’s our guy. But it’s not going to continue. I’ll be back to eat crow when he does it again, though, so stick around.

      • The real question is: At what point do you become a believer? How many games does he need to play well in to become “the guy”?

        On Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 11:44 PM, Eagles Rewind

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