Monday, November 4, 2013

Foles on Parade

More thoughts on Nick Foles. (cbssports.com)
Growing up in the burbs of Philadelphia, my life has been nestled in the warmth of Philly sports for as long as I've been alive. They're my passion, but for fantasy football purposes/writing something a lot of people want to read it doesn't make sense to breakdown every fleeting moment or hot topic story that goes on in the City of Brotherly Love. However, I'm going to indulge myself a bit with some Nick Foles thoughts. Thoughts which I've shared the past two weeks so this will be a third.

Trying to understand Foles to this point has been an impossibility. One week he looks to be collapsing under the pressure of a starting quarterback, while the next time he takes the field he's throwing 7 touchdown passes in a game. There really is no way to compute that in your brain. To rectify that this is the same person in both instances. A player with a 7.5 QBR one week and in his next start tallys a 99.1 QBR. Once more and for a final time, my stance on Foles is that he has the ability - through his accuracy, ability to protect the football, and quick decision making - to serve as a league average quarterback in this league, but I'm not sure he has the elite skill level to elevate to a Top 5 QB in the NFL. If he can become one of those 27 TD 4 INT type guys, then that is a huge win for him as a player. 

Clearly, hardly anyone knows what they have in Foles. What he needs to do is prove he can play week in and week out in the NFL. These sporadic performances won't fly, especially when it's against lesser opponents in games that don't matter or don't have a lot of pressure going into them. At that point, the Eagles will have a better idea about how to move forward.

Watching the game yesterday, if it's easy to pick apart a 7 TD performance, you probably can with Foles. The Raiders looked horrible both on the pass rush (give some kudos to the Eagles' o-line) and in the secondary. Two of Foles' TD's came off of Raider players falling down, and LeSean McCoy's TD catch appeared to  be the result of the Raiders not covering him and then not really feeling like tackling him as he scampered 25 yards for another touchdown, but hey, there's still 4 really nice scoring throws Foles made as well as other deep and intermediate routes. Foles has more to prove, but after that disastrous Cowboys performance, he did all he could to get right back in the driver's seat next week against Green Bay.

What the main takeaway from this game should be is a huge boost of support behind Chip Kelly. It's amusing that the most vociferous critics come out after two weeks in which Kelly started an injured Michael Vick and Matt Barkley. Scoring zero touchdowns is never acceptable, but I think Kelly deserved a bit more of a break than he was getting. Trotting those two quarterbacks out there in the condition they were in is basically sabotaging your own team. 

Locally, the build up during the week has been that people have been losing faith in Kelly. Rumors start churning, skeptics get big mouths, and it's an easy argument to win based on the past couple of games, but the video shows that there are opportunities created in this offense. The main priority is making the right decisions when those opportunities show themselves. Foles was able to do that and the team won despite losing time of possession and the Raiders racking up more total yards (the former is part of the plan and the latter is due to the Raiders playing catch-up most of the game).

The main issues moving forward with Kelly are more involved with his in-game coaching/decision making (play calling, replay review, time management, adjustments, etc.) that come along with being a head coach with zero NFL experience and his personnel decisions. His system is effective. It works. It's not tricks or magic, it's about creating mismatches out of a base offense and personnel on the field. Running a hurry up offense with versatile players that can line-up as needed to best expose those advantages his system creates (a must-read at Grantland). 

Ultimately, if Foles can become more consistent then he can play in the NFL. The Eagles won't have a top 10 pick in this year's draft and with so many holes on this team maybe going for a mid-range quarterback in the draft isn't necessary. Foles can function for the time being as the other weaker areas of the team are addressed. But if a quarterback the Eagles really want does fall to them in the upcoming draft, I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled the trigger. Like throwing passes, making a move for a franchise quarterback is best made when the play develops as it should and not forced under pressure.

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