Is Nick Foles a Franchise Quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles?
Philadelphia Eagles 2014
First full season as a starting quarterback
Last season marked the first year that Nick Foles produced a significant sample size of production in the NFL as a starting quarterback. In 13 games played last season, Nick Foles produced excellent numbers and demonstrated that he is a great decision maker at the quarterback position. Early on in the 2014 season though, Nick Foles and the Eagles offense have gotten off to slow starts in ballgames. This has led to questions arising about Nick Foles efficiency and ability as a player that the Eagles currently consider as their franchise quarterback. With a significant array of talent at the various skill positions for the Eagles, in each of the first three games Nick Foles has found a way to get his teammates the ball enough to win each ballgame. The early game inconsistency however, is what creates questions about whether or not Nick Foles really is a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
Efficiency in over 700 career passes
Even though Nick Foles has only played in 23 games in his NFL career, this is his third season in the NFL. As a rookie in 2012 he did play in seven games for the Eagles while filling in for the injured Michael Vick. In those seven games, Nick Foles was not asked to make many downfield throws, but when he dropped back to pass he was able to complete 60.8 percent of his passes. At that point Nick Foles was not considered a franchise quarterback, but his potential as a quarterback in the NFL for the future, was recognized. After a fantastic season in Foles' second season in the NFL, the Eagles coaching staff and many of the fans started to believe that Foles was an NFL franchise quarterback. Passing for 2,891 yards with a 64 percent completion rate, 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions is what had people believing in Nick Foles after the 2013 season. In three games to start the 2014 season, Nick Foles is completing 61 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Foles also has already passed for 978 yards this season, which has him averaging well over 300 yards passing per game. The downturn in pass completion efficiency is what has some people worried, but Eagles coach Chip Kelly obviously is not worried, as he continues to have Foles drop back to pass more than 30 times per game.
What makes a franchise quarterback?
In the NFL a franchise quarterback has to be an efficient passer, who can make all the throws on the field, as well as being a great decision maker. Typically a franchise quarterback will have height and great arm strength to go along with the mental ability to be a great decision maker. In 2013, Nick Foles measured up to all the franchise quarterback standards and excelled beyond them in way that some thought was impossible. As with any player that takes the league by storm, the homework has been done on Nick Foles for opposing teams to try to attack his weaknesses. Nick Foles in turn has had to adjust back to the league within the games that he has played so far this season. Even though Foles adjustments have come quick enough to help the Eagles win each of their first three games, the adjustment period has led to the slow starts in all three games. With opposing defenses crowding the box to take away the Eagles running game along with disrupting the routes of their pass catchers, Nick Foles has had to make tougher throws into tighter windows early on in each of the first three games. Since Nick Foles has ultimately been able to do enough to win games against very competitive opponents, for now he is once again passing all the tests that come his way.
Foles being asked to do more this season
If Nick Foles is a franchise quarterback, this is the season that he will prove it. Last season he performed like a franchise quarterback in Chip Kelly's offensive system that included a strong running game from the spread formation and many quick passes. This season teams are taking away space against the Eagles spread formation looks, and trying to make Nick Foles beat with downfield throws. While it has taken Nick Foles a little while to the touch and rhythm for a downfield passing game in each game played for the Eagles so far this season, he has been able to deliver so far. The Eagles would like to see Nick Foles find more consistency early against some of the tougher defensive looks, but with his performances so far this season, he is well on his way to putting together another year in which he performs like a franchise quarterback. With Foles being asked to do more this season, his limitations have become apparent. Since Foles does not have the ability to lasers all over the field, he has to anticipate his receiver's break more so than quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton who possess outstanding arm strength for line drive throws. This limitation however, did not prevent him from connecting multiple times with Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews coming out of the breaks in Sunday's game against the Redskins. While Foles could be more efficient, to this point he has delivered after slow starts in each ballgame.
Ultimately Nick Foles possesses the size, arm strength and decision making abilities necessary to be a franchise quarterback at the NFL level. Last year's strong performance was a huge step in the right direction for Nick Foles, with all the great weapons around him on the Eagles. With the current state of the Eagles offensive line and running game, if Nick Foles is able to continue leading his team to victories, that would go a long way towards solidifying his spot among NFL franchise quarterbacks. The limitations for Foles are small, but they do exist. He makes up for those limitations though, by doing a better job in the areas that quarterbacks without those limitations do not excel. As one of the emerging young quarterbacks in the NFL, Nick Foles has a chance to be mentioned as one of the best quarterbacks from his draft class, in future conversations.