Foles stating his case with red-zone success

Foles stating his case with red-zone success

Eagle Eye: What to do at QB

October 15, 2013, 7:00 am
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Nick Foles has a 105.1 passer rating inside the red zone this season compared to Michael Vick's 57.1. (AP)

More red-zone drives, more red-zone points, and the biggest statistical disparity between Michael Vick and Nick Foles grew even bigger on Sunday in Tampa.
Foles generated two touchdowns and a field goal in three trips inside the red zone Sunday, when the Eagles beat the Buccaneers 31-20 in Foles’ first start of the year and first ever under rookie head coach Chip Kelly.
The Eagles have now converted four of seven trips inside the red zone into touchdowns in about the equivalent of 1½ games with Foles at quarterback.
That’s 57 percent of red-zone trips that have resulted in touchdowns.
Before he got hurt, Vick put up touchdowns in five of 14 trips inside the 20.
That’s 36 percent.
Kelly hasn’t said who will start at quarterback once Vick is fully recovered from the hamstring pull he suffered last weekend against the Giants.
But in limited action so far, Foles’ red-zone numbers are dramatically better than Vick’s.
Foles has thrown just nine passes inside the red zone so far this year, but look at the production: 5 for 9 for 37 yards, with three touchdowns along with a rushing TD.
That’s a 105.1 passer rating.
Vick’s red-zone numbers: 5 for 19 for 38 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
That’s a 57.1 passer rating.
Vick has two red-zone rushing TDs, and Foles has one. But Foles so far this season somehow has a higher rushing average inside the 20 (3.5) than Vick (3.0).
Since joining the Eagles in 2009, Vick has 57 red-zone carries, with a 4.1 average, 15 touchdowns and seven fumbles.
Foles is 6 for 23 rushing with two touchdowns, including a four-yarder Sunday. That’s a 3.8 average.
Bottom line is points.
And so far this year Foles is averaging 30 percent more points per red-zone drive than Vick.
Vick’s 14 red-zone drives have produced five touchdowns and seven field goals, or 56 points. That’s a touchdown 36 percent of the time and an average of 4.0 points per red-zone drive.
Foles’ six red-zone drives have produced four touchdowns -- just one fewer than Vick in fewer than half as many chances -- and two field goals, or 34 points. That’s a touchdown 67 percent of the time and an average of 5.7 points per red-zone drive.
Of 40 quarterbacks who’ve started at least one game this year, Foles ranks 10th in red-zone passer rating (105.1), and Vick ranks 35th (57.1).
In the same group, Foles is 15th in completion percentage and Vick is 38th.
One interesting difference between Vick and Foles in the red zone is DeSean Jackson’s involvement in the offense at the goal line the last couple weeks.
In past years, Jackson was rarely a factor close to the end zone.
Jackson has two career TDs of 15 yards or less from Vick -- a nine-yarder vs. the Colts in 2010 and a six-yarder against the Rams on opening day 2011.
But in 1½ games with Foles, he’s caught two more. They were his first touchdown catches inside the 15 in his last 30 games and only the fifth and sixth of his career.
Jackson has always been one of the NFL’s best deep threats. But the Eagles’ new-found red-zone efficiency has really expanded his game, and if he can continue to be a factor in the short game, it just makes the Eagles’ offense even more dangerous.
“I haven't looked at whatever they did with him in the past,” Kelly said. “He's a real good route runner, and he's a tough matchup down there.”
As for Foles, he’s always made red-zone efficiency and production a priority.
Even last year as a rookie, Foles was sound in the red zone, with four TDs, no interceptions and an 89.1 passer rating. Vick had nine TDs, two interceptions and a 75.8 rating in 2012.
Including fumbles and interceptions, Vick has six red-zone turnovers over the last two years. Foles has never turned the ball over inside the 20 via fumble or INT.
“It’s tremendously important to be sharp in the red zone,” Foles said. “You really want to get those points. You don’t want to come away with field goals.
“I think the big thing is preparation. You see what they’re going to do, and you have to take advantage of it. You’ve got to be on time, you’ve got to be sharp with your throws.
“Precision. Accuracy. And you can’t hold onto the ball too long, because that’s when bad things happen down there, because everything’s faster.
“So that all goes with preparation and everybody being on the same page and the line doing a great job blocking. They did (Sunday), and we were able to do great things in the red zone.”

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