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Nick Foles and The Logarithmic Interception-Facepalm Scale (LIFS) - Part 3

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Turf Show Times has developed the unique and groundbreaking Logarithmic Interception-Facepalm Scale, or LIFS, to help us articulate appropriate reactions to Nick Foles' interceptions in 2014. Today, RamBuck closes out the 2014 season with Week 8 (@ Cardinals) and Week 9 (@ Texans).

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We are mercifully closing out our three-part series on the Nick Foles Logarithmic Interception-Facepalm Scale, or NFLIFS (Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here).  Why mercifully? Because we also want to show you why Foles is a legit starting quarterback who can make the tough throws.  Also, my face looks like I've slept on Poison Ivy pillows.

For completeness, however, we will finish our 2014 All-22 tape study of Foles' interceptions with Weeks 8 (@ Cardinals) and 9 (@ Texans).  There are three total interceptions in Foles' last two starts, two by Arizona and one by Houston.  Side note: Foles played against NFC West opponents 3 times (33% of starts) with 5 INT's (50% of total interceptions).

Week 8: @ Cardinals

Situation: 7-7 tie, 7:42 left in 2nd quarter, 1st & 10 on the Cardinals' 25 yard line.

NFLIFS Magnitude: 7.777777

I really, really need to put my face on a cool floor for a while.  I just... can't, Nick.  This one was painful for a variety of reasons.  I will try to list as many as I can without laying back down:

  1. Set. Your. Feet. Please. We. Have. Talked. About. This.  If you can't set them, don't make that throw.
  2. All of his momentum is falling away from his target, with the coverage on the WRONG side of his momentum (on his left, falling to his left).  This usually doesn't end well, even with the strongest of arms.
  3. This is a throw that requires maximum velocity down the inside seam. It can't happen if 1. and 2. happen.
  4. (Lays down)
  5. It is a tie game, 1st and 10, from the Cardinals' 25, with 7:30 left.  You are allowed to throw it away or take a sack.  I appreciate your confidence, but this was not 4th and goal from the 25 with no time left.
Ok, so the play starts with Foles' first read being Zach Ertz, who is detached in the slot on this play.  There are timing routes run by Ertz and Jordan Matthews from the slot.  Ertz is running an intermediate drag, meant to find the zone between the nickel/safety and the outside LB.  Matthews is taking the high route, also breaking inside at the same time.  Foles (wisely) pulls down on his pump when he sees that Ertz is well covered, and moves to his second read (Matthews).

Here's where it kind of falls apart on Foles:

Freeze frame: Foles is already backpedaling back and to his left, due to pressure on his right (note how the RG Evan Mathis is pretty much overmatched and is in Foles' shoes.  The RT is just chillin').  As Foles is intent on hitting his second read (Matthews, who is wide open), he decides to make a 30 yard "arm" throw off his back foot while falling away.

There is a coverage "switch" and the LCB, due to the lack of velocity on the throw, reads and undercuts the route.  Matthews has no chance on the ball.  I know Foles wants that back.  I think Foles was aware of the switch but overestimated his arm.  Hopefully he has learned.

Situation: 17-14 Eagles, 12:29 left in 4th quarter, 3rd and 11 on the Eagles' 41 yard line.


NFLIFS Magnitude: 4.4

For this one, I decided not to be quite as harsh (on Foles or my cheeks).  I even came back to this play at least a half dozen times to make sure I understood exactly what happened and who was to blame.

It's very simple: it was a bad throw, not a bad decision (as we have seen at times).  There is pretty strong pressure up the middle immediately after the snap.  Foles hits his drop, and sensing trash approaching his lower half, looks to get the ball out a bit early to Riley Cooper (who is running 15 yard in).

The problem with this, is that although his feet are initially in good throwing position, he ends up throwing from a base with almost no control (100% upper body).  The mechanics are very rushed, as in an effort to keep his body away from the incoming trash, he opens up his upper body way too soon during release.  This results in the ball going wide left, behind Cooper and into the open arms of the training cornerback.

If Foles makes this more of a touch pass, and throws open his receiver, it is likely a long completion.  Instead, it is a heater and Cooper has no chance on it.

The freeze frame of this is shown below:


Week 9: @ Texans

Situation: 7-0 Eagles, 3:27 left in the 1st quarter, 1st & 10 on the Eagles' 20 yard line.


NFLIFS Magnitude: 8.1

Thank GOODNESS that this is the last one y'all, I've run out of ice in the icemaker and was going to have to run up to my local Publix.  And to top it off, Foles ended up breaking his collarbone during this matchup.  We BOTH want to forget this ever happened.

This is something we've seen all too often during our All-22 film study: the breathtaking back foot throw to avoid a sack.  Sometime a sack is best, especially on 1st down early in the game.

I realize we don't want our QB taking a beating (been there, done that), but we also want good decisions.  This is the one part of Foles' game about which I have legitimate concerns, and hope new QB coach Chris Weinke can correct.

J.J. Watt (who else?) is the catalyst for this last interception, disrupting the entire right side of the line and making Foles very uncomfortable almost immediately.  Note that Foles isn't even into the second step of his drop before Watt has dipped under the tackle, and now he must make a quick decision: eat it or drop it to his hot read (RB coming out of the backfield).  He actually does... neither.

This is where I'm not sure what to say that I haven't already said before: the least likely completion is the one Foles tries to hit.  Very similar to our previous two interceptions, Foles throws with his feet moving backward, his mechanics extremely rushed, and relies only on his upper body to attempt to deliver a 30+ yard downfield ball to Riley Cooper.

Not only is the cornerback in good position on Cooper, but the deep safety has stayed home.  The probability this is completed is maybe 8%.

Note the RB releasing out of the backfield (hot).  Foles could have flipped the ball in his direction for a reasonable gain (if he felt he couldn't set his feet enough), or simply taken the 9 yard loss, if he had to do it over again.

NFLIFS Summary

After studying Foles' 10 interceptions, I've come to realize that while I respect Foles for attempting to extend plays, I also want him to mature as a decision maker and learn to "live another day".

In 2013, his breakout season, he took 28 sacks in 13 games.  In 2014, he took only 9 sacks in 9 games.  There is a double-edged sword between protecting your QB and protecting the football.  Hopefully he can find that with the Rams this season.

What's Next?

Thanks for coming on this journey with us, while we studied the negatives of Foles' 2014 play.  Up next, we dig into Foles' throws for six and show why he has the makings of an electrifying gunslinger.