As a second year quarterback out of Arizona with a goofy haircut, Nick Foles recorded one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in the history of the NFL.
With only 16 starts under his belt to this point, you can find a Nick Foles jersey in Canton, Ohio. He was put on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after tying the record for most touchdowns thrown in a game (7) against the Oakland Raiders in week 9. He also threw the least amount of interceptions ever recorded in a season (keeping in mind he didn’t start every game). All of this to go along with his 27 touchdown passes while leading the Eagles to a division championship and playoff berth.
All of that being said, there is still an astounding amount of doubt about the Eagles starting quarterback going into season number two under Chip Kelly. While some argue other teams will have film of him now to study and devise schemes to expose his weaknesses, the biggest point of emphasis may not even be on the Eagles.
The blowout and eventual departure of Desean Jackson leaves a large void on this Birds offense, particularly in the passing game. He accounted for over 1/4 of the Eagles pass game with 82 catches and 25 grabs resulting in 20 yards or more. They added two rookies in the draft, but still have no one on the roster with the body of work that Jackson has developed over his career. Not even mentioning the fact that we will be playing against him twice a year now, he is most likely a top 10 big play threat in the entire league.
As for Foles, he will be facing a lot more press coverage and lower safeties without the threat of a speedy receiver to take the top off the defense. Nick’s best friend, the running game, will also likely take a hit with defenses stacking their fronts more often for the same reason.
But as the motto goes, ‘In Chip we trust.’ Head coach Chip Kelly has this fanbase brainwashed that anyone can succeed in his system and until proven otherwise things will stay that way. If Kelly is confident enough to just cut ties with an offensive weapon of that caliber, he must be very confident in his philosophy. With the return of Jeremy Maclin and the addition of the two rookie wideouts, Kelly is basically saying you can plug anyone into this offensive scheme and they will succeed.
A gutsy attitude (especially with the questionable health of Maclin, back on the sideline after a recent hamstring miscue) but it is far from foolish if you look at the success he had at Oregon. Key players leaving, going to the NFL and coming back year in and year out, plugging new kids in and posting the most productive high scoring offenses the NCAA has ever seen.
Getting back to his quarterback, regardless of this year’s circumstances, Foles has built the foundation of a brilliant resume in his young career and a full offseason under his belt as the starter in this system certainly will not hurt his cause. He is an offensive coordinator’s dream come true when it comes to protecting the football. The term turnover and #9 on the Eagles is hardly ever brought up in the same context and this isn’t luck. There was a statistic devised to demonstrate how often a quarterback throws into coverage. Foles’ passes were dead last in passes defended (Matt Cassel being first). A lot of times interceptions are balls that are tipped and land into defenders hands, well that doesn’t happen if the defender never gets his paws on the ball at all. He also completed 64 percent of his passes (while the league average was 61.4) with a passer rating of 119.2 (while the league average was 87).
The Foles success argument can be made into a never ending one and will not be fully resolved until we finally get into this 2014 regular season. Foles will be back on the gridiron on Friday in Foxboro after a week of dual practices with the Patriots. Following a rough start to the preseason, matching his interception total from all of last season in the 1st quarter, he will be looking to get back on track.
[Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports]