Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles will have every opportunity to climb another rung or two on the improvement ladder this week against Tampa Bay. Though they’re ranked No.1 against the rush, the Bucs’ defense is ranked dead last against the pass.
Wait, there is a worse pass defense than the Eagles’?
Yes, how about that, huh? The Eagles’ pass defense likely leads the league in categories like RRF (Receivers Running Free) and LTA (Lame Tackle Attempts), but they’re actually somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing yards given up.
The 32nd ranked Tampa pass defense gives up an average of 309 yards per game and opposing quarterbacks have an average QB rating of 91.8 (ranked 24th). They’re tied for 21st in the league in giving up 21 TD passes and are 30th in sacks with only 18 (two less than the Eagles!).
They’ve also given up a whopping 52 pass plays of 20 yards or more! For all the times we’ve seen big pass plays against the Eagles this year, we’ve only given up 41 passes of 20 yards or more. This means the Bucs’ pass defense really must be terrible, right?
However, a big difference between the Bucs and Eagles’ pass defense is the fact that the Bucs can actually intercept the ball. In case you forgot due to lack of exposure, an “interception” is when the the guy on defense catches a pass from the opposing quarterback, thus resulting in a “turnover”, remember those?
Yeah, Tampa has 17 of those on the season, good for fourth-most in the league.
Nick Foles is coming off of his best performance so far last week against Dallas and is now officially the starting QB for the rest of the season. Each week Foles has played, he’s shown some improvement in different areas.
However, his improvement hasn’t exactly been very rapid. In fact, his progress rivals that of the tortoise in the race against the hare. He hasn’t had a game yet that screams “I’m the future of this franchise”, but he also hasn’t had one that screams “we better draft a QB in April.”
Against a weak Tampa pass defense, I can see Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg opening up the offense a little more and let Foles air it out, just to see how he responds. Of course, establishing a ground game would help, but the Bucs do have the league’s best run defense.
There are two areas I want to see Foles improve upon: His deep ball accuracy and his decision-making. In last week’s game, he missed an open Jeremy Maclin on a long-ball that would have been a touchdown had the pass been accurate.
And on the two-point conversion attempt late in the game, he had Bryce Brown and open field in front of him as he was rolling to the right side, but yet decided to fire an inaccurate pass to Jason Avant in the end zone…bad decision and bad throw.
He has struggled with both of those aspects so far and we need to see that he can make better decisions with the ball and has the ability to make big plays.
Foles has the next four games to prove he should be the starter in 2013. He might not have a better opportunity to show something than he does this week against a soft Bucs pass defense.
After this game, the Bengals are on tap and their defense is considerably better and will therefore be a harder test. Foles needs to take advantage of this opportunity, gain some confidence and show Philadelphia we don’t have to worry about the QB position this offseason.
That’s a tall order, I know.