Thoughts on Nick Foles and game tape vs ASU

Tape courtesy of JMPasq

I’m not a big fan of Nick Foles. I’ve seen an awful lot of Arizona tape over the last three years and I feel like I’m watching the same player now that was on view in 2009. Opinion is generally mixed – some tout him as a potential first round pick, others don’t see a future in the NFL. At the National Football Scouting meeting last summer, Foles was given a 7th/UDFA grade – a grade I agree with.

There’s a long list of issues, so here are the highlights. For a guy listed at 6-5 and 240lbs, you’d expect him to be physically better than quarterbacks without that great size. His deep ball is weak, generates little velocity and is inaccurate. Overall he has a problem throwing the ball with pace, he seems to only throw the outside slant with a follow through. Look at the tape above and you’ll see an awkward trend where he almost ‘half’ throws the ball – it leaves his hand early like he’s spinning it to the receiver, and this takes away a lot of power. On deep passes this technical problem is evident, and he doesn’t drive through the football anywhere near enough. The deep completion he makes early in this game is a hopefully lob into single coverage – he won’t be able to make those types of throws in the NFL.

As you’d expect at that size, he’s not great at moving around and getting out of the pocket. He’ll never break outside to extend a play, he’s always looking for ways to stay in the pocket. This is just flat out inconvenient most of the time and it leads to a lot of missed opportunities and sacks. Foles has been sacked 46 times in the last two years and too many times it’s his fault. Look at the play at 4:27 where he’s too hesitant and ends up going backwards to try and extend the play rather than laterally. Move out of the pocket, extend the play and give yourself a chance to throw it away. Move backwards, lose your balance and put yourself in a position to lose 15 yards. He’s a pure pocket passer in every sense of the word, and that’s just not the type of player teams are looking at early in the draft these days.

He’s neither a very accurate passer or a safe, conservative decision maker. He’ll regularly chance a pass into double or triple coverage, he’ll miss on a simple inside slant or throw a knuckle ball on a basic screen. Considering he plays in an offense than utilises so many screen and high percentage passes, he shouldn’t be throwing 14 picks this year. A lot of people get lost in the yardage, but it’s a similar situation to Landry Jones. Sit down, break down the tape and look beyond the numbers. Are you seeing this guy throwing NFL passes? Are you seeing him fitting difficult passes into a tight window? Are you seeing him extend a play and deal adequately with pressure? Is he improvising from the play call? On each occasion, I have to answer ‘no’.

It often looks like he’s making one, two and even three reads at a time. His head will visibly tilt from one option to the next, but is he actually making progressions or is he trying to fool a defense to set up yet another screen? When I actually got into the tape I realised that he’s often not actually scanning the field, it’s a hook to break off a screen or WR flat. Two reads across the middle, then back to the receiver in the flats. You’ll see it time and time again.

When a player is competing within an offense that does such a great job making life easy for the quarterback, you expect them to at least master that scheme. At the start of the season I posted a video breaking down Foles and stated I didn’t believe he’d truly mastered this offense yet. The video above is one of his better game this year in a 31-27 game with no turnovers. At other times this season, I still felt he was struggling to dominate – even considering the gaudy numbers. I have a really hard time imagining him picking up a very technical NFL play book quickly.

You have to factor in his environment and admittedly, Arizona haven’t looked like a well coached team at any time during his career with the Wildcats. The chaos this season was predictable and it’s to Foles’ and his teammates credit that they didn’t completely implode after some heavy defeats. Even so, I cannot project a productive NFL career for this player. Teams will consider him in the middle rounds and the Denver Broncos sent an army of scouts to watch his performance against Colorado (he threw three interceptions in a miserable defeat). That’s the kind of team that’s going to spend a pick on Foles – a team still not completely committed to it’s starting QB, but isn’t going to draft one in the first round. There are better options that maybe require a little more work and a little more patience, but they’ll have a shot. I don’t think Foles does.

Either way, he doesn’t appear to fit what the Seahawks want to do at the position and it’s doubtful he’ll land in Seattle when all is said and done.


  1. Jmpasq

    Very well written piece.Theres been a lot of chatter on Foles lately.He has never been a player that has blown me away and I was quite surprised of the first round pick talk. Im going to cover the Colorado game as well just havent gotten to it

  2. Tom

    We agree 100% on a QB, sweet. All you have to do is put in the bowl game vs Okie St and you’ll take Foles off my QB list. He can’t throw a simple out route without a cb being able to jump the route for a pick or swat away. He’d be a wasted selection when we could grab plenty of other players.

  3. Colin

    He looks jittery on deep passes. Gets hot feet and misses downfield throws. Not a good combo.

  4. dave crockett

    As a U of A alum allow me to say “ouch”!

  5. JC

    I think I posted something in regards to the banal things being said about Foles after the Washington – Arizona game. One that has stuck with me is Mitch Levy’s talking bobblehead Steve Sandmeyer who said Nick Foles was a, “poorman’s Ben Roethlisberger,” with a, “cannon arm,” and then went on to predict Matt Barkley would have the lowest Wonderlic score in next year’s quarterback class.

    It’s okay, crockett, we won’t let your questionable choice of schools lessen our fondness for you.

  6. Michael (CLT)

    I am an Arizona Alum, and made my way to Tucson for Homecoming. Foles was awful. His pick in the end zone during a rousing comeback was just horrendous. People in the stands were yelling no before he let it go. He stared down his target and let go a floater. He is a slow, first read guy with a decent arm. Foles ceiling is Whitehurst’esque. I will not be surprised if he goes undrafted.

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