***Warning: Since this blog is written by my dog (Oh, what a clever dog you are! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!), which I have mentioned before, this particular post could be a bit biased.***
For whatever reason, a significant number of people still seem to
think that Michael Vick should be the starting QB for the Eagles in 2013, rather than Nick Foles. Now, I can understand how people might
not be too familiar with Foles, and perhaps dismiss him due to his
status as a mere former 3rd round draft pick, but I think this could be a
mistake. Not that this even comes close to telling the whole story, but here are his college stats, in case you aren't familiar with them.
Year Comp. Att. Comp.% Yards YPA TD INT
2009 260 410 63.4% 2485 6.1 19 9
2010 286 426 67.1% 3191 7.5 20 10
2011 387 560 69.1% 4334 7.7 28 14
These stats leave out his freshman year at Michigan St. (where he was a nobody), and skip directly to when he transferred to Arizona. What I find encouraging about these numbers, is the steady improvement he had in virtually all categories (YPA, Yards, Comp%), while maintaining a healthy 2:1 TD to INT ratio. Unlike some prospects (Matt Barkley, perhaps), there appears to be little reason to believe that Foles was benefiting from a lot of surrounding talent, as Arizona generally didn't have much of a rushing game during his time there, and the only receiver to amount to anything as a draft prospect was Juron Criner, who wasn't taken until the 5th round (though he is a moderately interesting player).
If you prefer to use one of the commonly referenced measures for predicting QB success, to see how Foles compares, we can do that too (even if I feel a bit cautious about subscribing to some of these methods). According to the 2012 Lewin Career Forecast, Foles came in as the 4th highest rated QB from his draft class, just behind Andrew Luck. While coming in fourth may not seem to be a sign of excellence, it was a rather strong QB class, and his overall score still rates fairly well in a more historical context. According to the 26-27-60 rule, Foles also meets the standards for a QB who can likely succeed (his score would be 29-32-66.8). As predictive tools go, these are both at least amusing, if not 100% reliable. Whatever their shortcomings may be, these methods at least put Foles into a similar group to many of the QBs who have managed in the past to find some degree of success.
In his 2012 rookie year, Foles played in 7 games, at the end of the season, accumulating 1,699 yard, 6 TDs, and 5 INTs. That isn't too exciting,
but we have to remember that he was just a rookie. If we expand those
numbers to a 16 game season, it would work out to 3,883 yards, almost
14 TDs, and a little over 11 INTs. Again, these aren't necessarily shocking stats,
but I think they would be perfectly respectable for a guy who is just starting out. Expecting everybody to explode onto the NFL scene like RGIII or Russell Wilson, is a bit unrealistic. He also had a 60.8 completion percentage, only
failed to go over 200 yards twice, in games when he was being sacked rather
frequently, and had two games where he produced yardage gains of 345 and
381. It should also be mentioned that Foles compiled these stats with DeSean Jackson missing for the last 5 games, and LeSean McCoy missing weeks 12-15. This seems like a fairly significant handicap, and something that should probably be taken into account when judging Foles' brief run as the starter.
Foles did average about 1.1 fumbles per game,
but Vick was also fumbling 1.1 times per game, in 2012. Unlike Foles,
Vick doesn't have the excuse of being a rookie, and has actually been
fumbling the ball 0.91 times per games in the last 3 years. As far as
passing yards are concerned, Vick has only crossed the 3,000 yard mark
twice in his 10 non-prison league seasons, and even then just barely. In 2011 he had 3,300
yards, and in 2010, 3,018 yards. Vick's career TD/INT ratio, is merely a
1.5, while Foles is already at 1.2, and again, Vick's edge in this
category largely relies on his moderate success back in the 2010 and
2006 seasons, where his stats get boosted by a 2.15 ratio in those
years. Vick also still has a career completion percentage of only 56.3,
though it has recently improved somewhat, and he has managed to produce
only one year over 60%, back in 2010. Unfortunately for the Vick supporters, Foles is already over the 60%
Obviously, there is a difference
between them when it comes to rushing yards. With Vick averaging about
551 rushing yards per year, though these years are often shortened by
injury, that is a point in the dog drowner's favor. On the other hand,
if Foles truly could maintain the pace with which he was accumulating
passing yards, he would still likely surpass Vick in terms of total yardage.
The previously mentioned projection of 3,883 yards, over a 16 game
season, would exceed Vick's total combined rushing/passing production in almost any year of his
career. Vick's best year only produced 3,892 total combined yards.
Leaving that year out, Vick's second best year only produced 3,694
yards. As much as fans of the puppy pummeler may like him, there is very little
that is exceptional about those stats, no matter how entertaining the manner of accumulating them may be. This comparison also hinges on the idea that Foles would only maintain his pace, and not improve statistically, which seems rather unlikely as most QBs tend to make at least gradual progress in their 2nd and 3rd years.
I know that this is going off on a tangent, but I can't resist it. On a year to year basis, even
Kyle Orton has produced comparable yardage gains to Vick, and a similar TD/INT ratio, when
given a chance. Yes, I can already hear people screaming in protest at this comparison. In Orton's last season in which he had significant playing time (2010), he had 3,653 passing yards, with a 58.3 Comp%, and 20 TDs to 9 INTs (in a 13 game season). Prior to that, in 2009, Orton had 3,802 passing yards, with a 62.1 Comp%, and 21 TDs to 12 INTs (in 15 starts). While raw stats definitely don't tell the whole story, I find this to be kind of funny, considering how little people seem to care about Orton in comparison to Vick.
People may want to point to Vick's ability to escape pressure, versus Foles' supposedly statue like immobility. Sadly, the numbers don't really back this up. In 10 games played in 2012, Vick was sacked 28 times, which averages out to 2.8 times per game. Similarly, Foles was sacked 20 times in 7 games played, for an average of 2.85 times per game. While this is most likely an overly simplistic way of viewing things, it doesn't suggest that the speedy Vick's famous athleticism really reduced the number of times that the team had to take a loss on an offensive play, or that his speed greatly compensated for any deficiencies in the offensive line.
There's also the not so insignificant issue that the oft injured, and 33 year old Vick, is in the last year of his contract. So, how should the Eagles view that? Well, even if he performs well, it would seem unlikely that they could really justify extending Vick, at this point in his career. He should, after all, be about to begin a steady statistical decline. They also would probably have a difficult time trading the then 34 year old, and somewhat frail QB. Most likely, I suspect, Vick will end up walking after the season, and signing the best one or two year contract that some desperate team will throw his way (Hello Oakland!). I just have a hard time seeing any angle from which Vick appears to be a long or even medium term solution for the Eagles.
So, why not roll with Foles? Why not see what you have in him, and to what degree he can continue to improve? At the very least, he has shown a degree of competence. Maybe he won't become the next Manning or Brady, but mere competence is often undervalued at the QB position, and can go a long way. Just ask the Jaguars if they would be content with competence. Or, on the other end of the scale, look at the Ravens (yes, I'm beating up on my home team again). They won the Super Bowl with a "competent" QB (maybe he'll get better, but at this point, yes, he's just average in most statistical categories). Personally, I think Foles could turn out to be quite good, but these things are always a bit of a crapshoot with QBs. Even if a player is good, being certain that they will get a significant opportunity isn't guaranteed. Especially if they are stuck behind an over-hyped mediocrity, who's never accomplished much beyond being the star of highlight reels for the bozos at ESPN.
Hmm, yes, I suspect this whole post is a bit pointless. As far as I can tell pretty much everybody has already chosen a side in the Vick debate, and swaying anyone's opinion is probably unlikely. I just have a strange, and possibly paranoid feeling, that Foles could get screwed over in all of this. If he gets pushed into a backup role, and we don't get to see what he is really capable of, my curiosity wouldn't be satisfied. Not that this probably matters very much to Chip Kelly.