Since taking over for an injured Michael Vick in early October, Nick Foles has been on a historic passing rampage. He stands 1st in NFL QB Rating (125.2), 1st in PFF QB Rating (100.07), 1st in yards per attempt (9.1), and the feat to top all feats, 19 touchdowns against ZERO interceptions.
An Eagles offense that was expected to be run-dominant under Chip Kelly has transformed into a potent, balanced attack. Their run/pass distribution is nearly 50/50, with 371 rushing plays and 386 pass attempts on the ledger. With that said, Foles is not exactly dropping back and slinging the ball all over the field – in his six starts he’s averaging a shade under 28 pass attempts per game – he’s just been otherworldly efficient. When he throws underneath his accurate arm gives receivers a chance to catch in stride and rack up YAC (52% of yards in air). And when he goes vertical – shall we say… too good?
Despite being dwarfed in drop-backs by 12-start quarterbacks, Foles ranks 15th in deep passing yardage and first in 20+ touchdowns (12). He’s connected on 16 deep throws at a clip of 34 yards per completion – and zero drops. He throws an exceedingly catchable ball, as buttressed by his 4.1 drop percentage (5th).
Foles and his production/efficiency off the play-action is a fascinating study. The optimal balance Philadelphia has achieved is a product of its dynamic running game. The presence of LeSean McCoy in the backfield opens up the field for everyone else – a respected PA fake can turn a mediocre receiver into a playmaking force, e.g. Riley Cooper. And thus, 29.6% of the Eagles pass attempts come off some adaptation of the PA.
As opposed to his 67.6 completion% on straight drop-backs, Foles is completing only 53.3% off the play-action. Why? Because he’s taking shots (+3.4 Y/A) and looking to milk one-on-one matchups in space. 689 of his 1791 passing yards have come off the PA, at a clip of 22 per completion… and TEN touchdowns. His 134.0 NFL QB Rating in these situations ranks 2nd only to Philip Rivers. As you can see, supposed accuracy takes a backseat when you’re lighting up the scoreboard with regularity.
To further complicate matters for opposing defenses, his ability to scan the field and divvy up targets is a work of art. Check out these pass distribution figures from the past four weeks (by # of targets):
Week 9 @ Oakland – 6/6/6/4/4/1/1
Week 10 @ Green Bay – 5/5/4/2/1/1
Week 11 vs. Washington – 7/4/4/3/3/2/1
Week 13 vs. Arizona – 6/6/6/6/6/4
Indeed, October 20th versus Dallas must feel like moons ago to Foles owners: 11/29, 80 yards and 2.8 yards per attempt. He’s been a top-4 QB – without debate – since returning from his concussion. His composure under pressure will be tested against a lethal Detroit defensive front. For all his strengths as a pure passer, Foles is not a mobile cat.
*Premium Stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com*
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