All-22: Analyzing Foles' poor decisions vs. Dallas

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All-22: Analyzing Foles' poor decisions vs. Dallas

To say Nick Foles made some bad throws against Dallas would be an understatement.

Nobody needs a film study to know that Foles frequently overthrew receivers when he wasn’t throwing behind them, that he missed a wide-open Brent Celek for a big gain on the left side, that his bomb to DeSean Jackson in the end zone lacked great placement and that his easy touchdown to Jason Avant somehow wasn’t so easy.

But the All-22 tape also shows that Foles lacked good field vision against the Cowboys, often forcing passes into coverage when other receivers were open. One of his strengths up until Sunday had been making his progressions and using his entire set of weapons, spreading the ball and finding checkdowns against the pass rush.

For whatever reason, those strengths eluded him Sunday, and the problems started early.

On the Eagles’ first possession, Foles faced 3rd-and-10 at his own 29-yard line. The Eagles came out in a three-wide, one-back formation designed to isolate running back LeSean McCoy on Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter down the left sideline. The Chargers had success with wheel routes against Dallas, so the Eagles were copycatting the idea.

McCoy lines up next to Foles in the shotgun but releases down the left sideline, while slot wideout Avant runs an inside route to draw the coverage:



The play goes according to plan. Avant’s inside route frees up McCoy around the left side without a defender within five yards. A good lead pass by Foles to the outside shoulder could even be a touchdown, if McCoy can shake the deep safety. Foles even looks toward the left side:



For whatever reason, though, Foles decides to throw across the middle to Zach Ertz, and his pass is so high that it bounces off the tight end’s outstretched hand. You can see McCoy is behind every defensive back except the deep safety, who’s about 12 yards away:



In the second quarter, on 3rd-and-7 at the Eagles’ 29, Foles has a chance to capitalize on a Tampa-2 look by the Cowboys designed to ensure that they’re not beaten by Jackson or Riley Cooper for the first down. Avant will run an inside route that takes the nickelback and linebackers toward the middle:



The deep routes by Jackson and Cooper and crossing route by Avant force Dallas’ defense to give up the underneath. With just a four-man rush, Foles steps up in the pocket and surveys the field. He has McCoy and Celek open around the 30. Each has enough space to get the first down if Foles can get the ball out quickly. Avant is double-covered across the middle, a danger zone for the QB:



For whatever reason, Foles ignores his checkdowns and attempts that dangerous pass across the middle. Avant dives, but can’t make the catch:



Later in the second, on 1st-and-10, Foles again misses his checkdowns, this time with pressure coming at him.

The Cowboys again play their safeties deep with man coverage against the Eagles’ three wideouts. Jackson is lined up split right, with Cooper on the left side and Avant in the left slot. All three run deep routes, taking the coverage with them and leaving the underneath for Celek and McCoy:



As he steps up to avoid pressure from the front four, Foles has McCoy a few yards in front and Celek nearing the 40, with space to get more yards. He even has a shot at deep right, with Jackson getting an inside step and both safeties shading toward the opposite side of the field:



But instead of three options, Foles holds onto the ball and gets trampled for a six-yard sack:



On a 3rd-and-4 at his own 22 in the third, Foles again has several options, but tries to force a pass instead of making the smarter decision.

This time, the Eagles have all three wide receivers to the left side and Dallas crowds the box with seven, playing just one safety deep. The defensive look gives Foles room to make a play downfield if he can get the ball out in time. Cooper runs a dig at the 30, while Avant and Jackson each run about five yards and cut in opposite directions:



Cooper beats his man to the inside at the 30 and McCoy releases to the right flat, where he’s open at the 20. Jackson’s runs a quick-in at the 25, in front of two linebackers -- again, a danger zone:



Instead of going to Cooper or McCoy, Foles tries to force the ball into Jackson across the middle, where Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) awaits. Foles’ pass is late and too far ahead of Jackson. Lee converges in time to break up the pass. It easily could have been a pick-six for the former Penn State star:

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).