Post Season Review and Analysis of the Quarterbacks
- Updated: January 3, 2015
To say the quarterback play in 2014 was a abysmal is an understatement. The one reason that the offense was so effective last season (2013) was because once Nick Foles to the reigns he only threw two interceptions in 13 games that he saw action. Chip Kelly has said that “not every quarterback can play in this system” and after this season there is nobody that can argue that. Regardless of how quarterback friendly this offense is, a quarterback that turns the ball over can’t play in it. The one thing Chip Kelly can’t tolerate is for his quarterback to turn the ball over. His offense is designed to keep the ball moving and keep the defense on its heels and when his quarterback is throwing interceptions it doesn’t allow the offense to get into a rhythm and also allows for opposing offenses to keep his dynamic offense on the sideline. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball. The quarterbacks this season combined for the same number of touchdowns as last season (27) but threw 19 more interceptions. As we have stated here in the preview of the season, defensive coordinators were going to find a way to slow down the running game and not allow for the quarterback to sit in the pocket for 7-8 seconds as was the case in 2013. This was going to give us a more realistic view of the state of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. It is safe to say, Chip Kelly does not have HIS quarterback that he needs on this team. For the sake of argument Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez are basically the same quarterback. Yes, they both do something the other doesn’t but neither has the skill sets Chip needs.
Nick Foles (QB)
The reason Chip Kelly didn’t give Nick Foles an extension after his record breaking 2013 season where he threw 27 TD’s and 2 interceptions because wasn’t going to let the numbers fool him but could see that had limitations. It was unfair to expect another record setting year but the one thing Nick did that he couldn’t do was, hurt the offense. In 8 starts, Nick threw 13 touchdowns and was on pace to match his 27 touchdowns the previous year but was negated with 10 interceptions and 4 fumbles.
Defensive coordinators made Foles move in the pocket where he struggles and forced him to make bad decisions. Last season, Nick rarely was pressured in the pocket which made him very comfortable and allowed him to take his time, set his feet and make good accurate throws. Due to his lack of mobility it makes Foles an easy target for defenders and causes him to take a great deal of hits and which ultimately resulted in a season ending shoulder injury in week 8 against the Houston Texans.
The most important part of a quarterback is his mechanics. Bad mechanics are going to bring a great deal of struggles. Foles’ mechanics digressed this season as he threw a great deal of passes falling back or with his feet parallel as opposed to staggered and his momentum carrying him forward.
Inability to put pressure on the defense with his legs.
Defenses started to key on LeSean McCoy by bringing an extra guy in the box, crashing the defensive end in the B gap or have the outside linebacker crash on McCoy at the snap of the ball before the offensive lineman who is pulling can block him (below image). What Chip Kelly needs is a quarterback who can put pressure on the defense with his legs or at least keep the defense honest instead of not even accounting for the quarterback. This will open up the lanes for McCoy again as well as give the defense something else to prepare for and think about.
Before Nick was sidelined for the season he led the league in over or under throwing open receivers. In this offense, receivers are going to run wide open off the play action which makes it easy for the QB as he doesn’t have to throw many timing routes. If Chip can’t find his quarterback that can move with his feet, he has to get a quarterback that can get the ball to open receivers. Incomplete passes is another thing that stalls the tempo of the offense.
Interceptions and Fumbles…
When a quarterback has bad mechanics and makes bad decisions when pressured it usually adds up to turnovers. This was not just a one game issue but something that was the case in pre season which continued into the first 8 games into the season and led to 10 interceptions in 8 games. Foles also added 4 fumbles giving him a season’s worth of turnovers in half a season.
Holding the ball…
The one thing that an offensive lineman does not like is a quarterback that holds the ball. When an offensive lineman has to block longer than the protection calls for it usually results in the protection breaking down and a offensive lineman blamed for giving up the sack. Holding the ball also leads to turnovers because the quarterback usually gets hit or makes a desperate heave and gets intercepted. Nick held the ball way too often in the first 8 games and with his lack of mobility it leads to sacks and a season ending injury.
The one thing that Nick does well is when he has all the time in the world is throw the deep ball. Unlike Mark Sanchez he has the arm strength to throw the ball 50 yards in the air. Foles had 7 big plays over 50 yards in 8 games and solely was the reason why Jeremy Maclin only was able to catch one deep ball once Mark Sanchez took over.
Nick Foles is under contract for one more year but it is safe to say that he doesn’t have to think about getting a big deal done any time soon. Time will only tell what the future hold for Foles. If Chip Kelly pulls off a big move to get a quarterback that he wants Nick Foles will have played his last down in Philadelphia but if not most likely he will have to fight and claw for the starting role next season.
Mark Sanchez (QB)
Mark Sanchez signed a one year deal in the off season in hopes to revive his career that went sour in NY and show the rest of the NFL he can still be a starter, if given the opportunity. With the simplicity of this offense and conjunction with Mark’s past experiences many including Chip Kelly thought it would allow him to be successful in this offense. With Nick Foles going down with a season ending injury in week 8, it meant Sanchez would have the opportunity to hoped for. Even though, Mark brought some good qualities that Foles did not possess like functional mobility in the pocket and the ability to scan the field and not lock on his first read but the one thing that haunted Sanchez his whole career remained…the turnovers. The prior four seasons in New York, Mark threw for 18,18,13 and 20 interceptions and in 9 games with the Eagles he had 11 interceptions and 7 fumbles proving he is who he is a turnover machine. Once again, that type of quarterback doesn’t fit in Chip Kelly’s system nor any system for that matter.
Progressing through his reads…
In the play below (image 1), Sanchez is looking for his first read, Brent Celek but he has a man under/over him, looks to his second read Riley Cooper who is running into the zone and in image 2 Sanchez progresses to his third read Jordan Matthews who doesn’t run into the middle linebacker and settles in the middle of the field.
Mobility in the pocket…
With defenses finding ways to force the quarterback to move this season, it was a benefit to have Sanchez under center compared to Foles who is more like a sitting duck. In image 1 Sanchez in getting pressured in the middle is ready to deliver a throw but knows he won’t be able to step forward to make a good throw and pulls it down to escape the pressure (Image 2).
Mark Sanchez connected with Jeremy Maclin on a 50 yard touchdown on his first snap in Houston and that would be the last deep ball he would connect on. Mark Sanchez since coming out of USC has been knocked for his lack of arm strength and it was on display in his first year in Philadelphia. This offense is known to take the top off a defense and strike quick with deep plays and with Mark at the helm this is one area defenses don’t have to account for.
When a quarterback has limited arm strength it is imperative for him to display great mechanics at all times. In the play below, Mark Sanchez makes a bone head move to throw off his back foot and try to complete a comeback route on the sideline to Jeremy Maclin which was intercepted. Mechanics combined with a ball that floats in the air resulted in 11 interceptions in half the season. Mark was on pace to match his season high (20).
The one thing Sanchez left New York with was the butt fumble title as he fumbled the ball running into his own offensive lineman. Things didn’t quite get that bad but his fumbling issues continued weather trying to catch the snap from his center (below image) or not allowing it to get stripped. He finished with 7 fumbles in 8 starts.
Mark is a free agent and will look to sign with someone who will be tricked into thinking he can lead them to the promise land. However, if that doesn’t happen it is possible Sanchez will be brought back as a backup.