When you look at Nick Foles’ 2013 numbers, it doesn’t seem like they should be a real thing. And if there was any logic at all in this world, they wouldn’t exist.
Yet there they are at any place which displays such numbers. Staring at you and beaming, telling you to call them a liar. Numbers don’t lie, but they sure can lead to wild, unrealistic expectations. Just as they have this year with Foles.
A few fun facts about those, um, facts:
- Foles averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt in 2013. Only 21 quarterbacks in league history have averaged that or more in a season, and they have names like Montana, Unitas and Stabler.
- Even crazier, only three have met or exceeded Foles’ passing pace since the 2000 season. In the NFL, 15 seasons is roughly the equivalent of 60 years in normal human time.
- He threw only two interceptions on 317 regular-season pass attempts.
- With 27 overall, he threw a touchdown pass on 8.5 percent of his throws. For perspective, Drew Brees finished second in the league last year with 39 TD passes, and he chucked one into the endzone on six percent of his attempts.
That’s how absurdly efficient Foles was with his deep heaving. He finished eighth in touchdown passes, yet 26th in attempts. He ended the season tied for fourth with 13 completions for 40 yards or more. That was only two behind Brees, even though Foles threw 333 fewer passes.
He clicked that quickly in Chip Kelly’s offense, though often his standard default play (other than a handoff to LeSean McCoy) was a massive catapult throw downfield that fell five yards short. No worries, because DeSean Jackson or Riley Cooper would adjust, and everyone would leave happy.
So what’s happening now? An inevitable and swift correction.
In two games and only 48 attempts Foles has already thrown as many interceptions as he did throughout all of last season. He’s spraying throws too, resulting in a completion percentage that’s fallen 7.5 percent since last year.
The amount of concern is limited right now because the Philadelphia Eagles are winning football games, and have a nice round zero in their loss column. Of course they’ve done that by falling behind at least 14 points twice and becoming the first team in league history to begin the season with two such comeback wins. But hey, who’s counting?
In fairness to Foles, a decimated offensive line isn’t helping matters. But even when he has time Foles isn’t connecting deep nearly as often. Both his overall passing yardage Monday night (331 yards) and pace per attempt (8.9) were incredibly deceiving. Of that, 152 yards went to Darren Sproles on screens and swing passes. Foles hit Zach Ertz for 27 yards, but his longest completion to a wide receiver went for 17.
That’s not the deep gunning Foles who thoroughly entertained us last year while connecting for +20 yards once every six throws. But even if he levels out and goes back to being merely good or (big gulp) average, it won’t matter.
The NFC East is just that terrible. More importantly, Sproles and McCoy alone can carry the Eagles offense, as we saw Monday. In a win over the Colts they combined for 280 total yards, 61 percent of Philly’s total offense that night.
The Eagles don’t need a great quarterback if they want to be playing in January. A good or pretty OK quarterback will be just fine, and even a regressing Foles can be that guy.