As the regular season rapidly approaches, many sports analysts commence fantasy frenzies and creating speculative top 5 or 10 rankings of nearly every position on the field. Yet the quarterback position leaves many to ponder the extrapolation from Nick Foles‘ last season.
There’s no secret that Foles exploded onto the scene in 2013, racking up a sensational 119.2 passer rating on the season to lead the league. He also became the first quarterback in history to throw seven touchdowns and maintain a perfect passer rating in a game.
Foles started 10 games last season (playing in 13) and ended with 27 TD and just 2 INT, propelling the Philadelphia Eagles to a season total of 6,676 net yards on offense, good for second in the league, while getting help from the league’s leading rusher LeSean McCoy.
So, why are people so skeptical to place Foles higher up among the league’s elite at the quarterback position?
The obvious answer stems from a predilection of the sports viewer to give the credit to Chip Kelly’s rapid-paced, college-style offense for which the NFL was unprepared. While these skeptics have reason to doubt the likelihood of a repeat of the numbers put up by Foles in 2013 when considering the departure of the Eagles’ leading receiver DeSean Jackson, they may be searching in the wrong place.
The offensive line for Philadelphia in 2013 was one of the most in tact units in the entire league. LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans, and RT Lane Johnson were on the field for 5,426 of their collective 5,520 offensive line spots on the Eagles’ offensive plays, equating to 98.3%. Familiarity and consistency among players on the field is key when trying to develop a level of comfort needed to run an offense at Chip’s pace.
However, even with the injury count on the offensive side of the ball so low and the line being so consistent in personnel, Foles still managed to be sacked a total of 28 times in those 13 games, keeping in mind that only 10 of them were starts.
Where Foles has a right mind to get rid of the ball and avoid the unnecessary hits of the more mobile, new generation of quarterback (Kaepernick, RGIII, Wilson), he takes an unusually large number of sacks, which may end up being just as bad as deciding not to slide on a tuck and run.
It would seem that the number of sacks did little to rattle Foles’ confidence in still managing to produce such impressive numbers, but one has to wonder about the one unlucky hit that could damage a season.
Foles faces a new challenge to start this season in handling the 4-game suspension of RT Lane Johnson due to violating the NFL drug policy.
Allen Barbre will handle the duties filling in for Johnson. Barbre played a majority of his 89 snaps last season at LT filling in for Peters, making this transition to the other side of the line and forming new chemistry a particular spot of worry.
Such consistency in the offensive line leading to 28 sacks has to be a red flag to many when projecting the number of hits Foles will take to begin this season and how comparable his numbers will be to last year’s.