Are Foles' Mechanics Fixed?

At 5-1, Nick Foles' viability as the franchise quarterback is still in question. Should Foles still be under the microscope?

At times it was like watching an impostor. Nick Foles didn't seem like his 2013 self in parts during the month of September. His deep passes were a hair off. He danced around the pocket with the antsy-ness of someone waiting outside of a locked bathroom. Foles was poorly setting his feet, or not setting them at all, prior to making a number of throws.

Even Chip Kelly conceded at a press conference that Foles' fluctuations were likely mechanical, and theoretically fixable. A little bit of work would presumably get Foles back to his old self.

The optimist would look at Foles' performance from the shutout win against the Giants and notice a marked improvement in his overall structure. His passes were not only sharper, but I'd argue he looked confident. With Jason Peters boxing Jason Pierre-Paul out, a fight as one-sided as Tyson vs. McNeeley if McNeeley flunked basic math, Foles was putting passes where only his tight ends could get them, and an opened-up running game did have a hand in the team's success. More snaps from under center (where Foles could communicate better with inexperienced surrogate David Molk) benefitted the whole offense, and Foles capably led five scoring drives.

Then again, the pessimist would look at his two interceptions and wince. ESPN's Greg Garber did, since he's all for trading LeSean McCoy to the Raiders for a first-round pick, in order to acquire Marcus Mariota. I'm utterly shocked that something so rash and ham-handed would come out of Bristol, but we do live to be surprised.

Still, were those two interceptions the result of faulty mechanics? The one thrown to Antrel Rolle was inexcusable, with Foles staring down Darren Sproles with the tunnel vision of a dog-track greyhound, so you could easily say Foles made a careless red zone mistake, and just rushed the screen pass.

The other, jumped on by Zackary Bowman, was on a play where Foles was flushed out of the pocket, desperately heaving to Jeremy Maclin when a wary Bowman jumped the route. Not to blame Maclin for the play, but had he run toward the ball instead of waiting like a first baseman, there's no pick. Either Maclin catches it, or he and Bowman collide, potentially drawing an interference penalty.

If you write off the interceptions as mere incompletions, Foles' rating for the shutout win soars to 103.5, and ends up his second best performance of the season after a 2013 throwback of three touchdowns, no picks, and 325 yards against the Redskins (114.3).

Instead, a couple of mistakes sinks Foles' October 12 performance to 79.04, which is to undercut how well he played outside of the picks.

After bombing out so horribly against the 49ers (less than 49 percent of his passes completed), Foles has completed 63.4% of his throws in the games with the Rams and Giants, almost at his 2013 form. Four touchdown passes came in those games, while, yes, there are three interceptions: the two aforementioned, and a long one to E.J. Gaines, who had the inside track on Maclin, even as Foles was releasing the ball.

Foles' recent mistakes (not even counting the lost fumble on his awkward slide) have been mental errors, not mechanical. Two of the picks, to Gaines and Rolle, were borne of impatience, not a flaw in his motion or feet setting. His rating with the picks in those two games: 82.8. If Foles played a bit smarter, it's up to 100.3.

Knowing this should make an Eagles fan breathe a tad easier, though it's understandably not easy to exhale at mental mistakes. His completion percentage is improving, he's remastered the fundamentals, and he's still good for two scores a game. The bad throws have mostly gone away, the fluttering variety in particular, and he's slowly returning to form as someone capable of leading a very good team.

To have overcome an offensive line missing marquee talent, the loss of a Pro Bowl receiver, and to readjust after teams have taken a full-offseason to brush up on what Nick Foles brings to the table, he's the quarterback of a 5-1 team that just shutout an opponent whose defense was allowing 17 PPG in their prior three wins.

I wouldn't be trading McCoy just yet.

Follow Justin Henry on Twitter


War Nest Top Stories