As I watched Nick Foles systematically pick apart one of the greatest defensive minds in NFL history, on the biggest stage in the sport, I couldn’t help but wonder how this was happening.
Foles wasn’t rattled at any point, not early, not late, not after a fluky interception. In just two months, we saw Foles look impressive vs a horrible defense (Giants), terrible vs a bad defense (Raiders), ordinary (Falcons), tremendous (Vikings) and now here we were again with a spectacular showing.
How are we supposed to make sense of this? Who is the real Nick Foles?
If you take the 27 TD, 2 INT run Foles had under Chip Kelly, and combine it with this postseason run under Doug Pederson (72 percent completions, 6 TD, one INT), what you get is … a quarterback running an offense loaded with college football elements – RPO, spread, shifts, motions, formations, tempo, virtually nothing under center – and succeeding. Easily.
But then you think of the Foles season in St. Louis with Jeff Fisher, and you get ugliness: 56 percent completions, 10 INTs, 7 TDs.
It’s pretty clear: Put Foles in a system that fits his skill set, and you’ve got a winner. Take him outside of his comfort zone, and it’s going to get ugly. Here’s his Super Bowl chart:
Like a college offense, there are a few chances down the field (4-for-13 on passes 10+ yards past the line of scrimmage). There is tons of success on short passes, and six passes behind the line of scrimmage.
What does Foles’ success in a college-heavy offense mean for the 2018 draft? Well, you’ve got three QBs who, would make complete sense: Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) and Lamar Jackson (Louisville).
Jackson has the worst accuracy of those three, and is viewed as the biggest project. The Eagles went with a coach and offense that fit their QB (Carson Wentz) and it fit the backup (Foles), too.
The Chiefs just traded up to draft a QB (Pat Mahomes) who should fit their offense.
But what about teams that need QBs? Teams like the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and New York Giants. Are they willing to break from the traditional football mold of having a QB under center, huddling up on every play, and start running an offense featuring elements from the college game to suit their QB?
As you have seen with Foles, maybe finding the QB isn’t the problem. Maybe teams should decide what they want the identity of their offense to be, and then find the QBs that can thrive in it.