It felt inevitable. For the first time in a long time, the luck-deprived Philadelphia Eagles had a Super Bowl caliber team, so it only made sense that the football gods would end their season prematurely.
There is one last gasp of hope amongst the Eagles faithful, however, and that is that Nick Foles, their new starter, winds back the clock and has a season like he did back in 2013. But what are the odds that actually happens?
Well, for starters, the odds of any quarterback having a 2013 Foles-esque season is slim to none. That’s how good he was. Check out how some of his stats rank on the all-time leaderboards:
That’s insanely good. I’d say that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the only current players that could replicate such a season. So the real question is, how close can Foles come to his 2013 production?
Spoiler: not very.
In order to examine why Foles is unlikely to come close to his 2013 production, we first have to examine how he reached such heights.
The main reason was Chip Kelly. The NFL, at least at first, wasn’t ready for Kelly’s blistering style of play. His offense centered around the run, which was predicated on the read option, where the league’s best back at the time, LeSean McCoy, consistently ripped off chunk plays, and averaged over 5 yards per carry.Shady’s effectiveness in the run game allowed Philadelphia to wear down teams with their blistering hurry-up offense. By the time Foles had to drop back to pass, the defense was hands on hips, gasping for air.
So what caused the downfall?
It started when teams finally realized that Foles wasn’t a mobile quarterback at all, which meant that the Eagles’ patented read option wasn’t really an ‘option’ at all. Foles couldn’t do anything with it. So they sold out to stop McCoy on early downs. And it’s a lot less tiring on a defense when the new line of scrimmage is mere feet from the old one.
And teams began to figure out Foles. They found out that he panicked under pressure. As a result, his completion percentage dipped from 64% to 59% from 2013 to 2014, and his TD/INT ratio plummeted from 13.5 to 1.3. Teams can’t run hurry-up offenses when its quarterback is so erratic.
This is all bad news for the current Eagles because they don’t have a workhorse back like McCoy. They run a timeshare between Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement. In an ideal hurry-up, the same eleven players stay on the field for the entirety of the drive.
Doug Pederson also runs a completely different offense than Chip Kelly, one which requires his quarterback to stand in the pocket on third down and deliver while the pocket’s collapsing. It’s something that Carson Wentz excels at, but, unfortunately, it’s something that Nick Foles is notoriously terrible with. Sorry, Eagles fans.