In light of the Philadelphia Eagles QB competition between Michael Vick and Nick Foles, one area in particular that is good to evaluate is how they perform in the red zone.
Chip Kelly is high on quarterbacks who are efficient, which means being accurate, smart and taking care of the football. Being efficient in the red zone is obviously a huge key and can be the difference between winning and losing every single week.
The play-calling and offensive scheme can have a substantial impact on QB efficiency, especially in the red zone, and unfortunately Vick and Foles did not benefit from the sometimes questionable plays called by Andy Reid and/or Marty Mornhinweg.
However, that’s all we have to go on for now so let’s see how Vick and Foles performed in this area of the field last season and do some comparisons…
First of all, the Eagles as a team ranked incredibly low at 28th in touchdown percentage in the red zone with a meager 44 percent. The four teams who were worse were Cleveland, Oakland, Arizona and Kansas City…all of which were top 10 teams (in April’s draft order).
On the flip side, five of the top six teams in this category made the playoffs, including the Super Bowl champs. Perhaps there is a direct correlation here? I’d say!
Anyway, we have to take into consideration two things about the below red zone stats of Vick and Foles:
- Vick played in roughly 9.5 games and Foles roughly 6.5 (not exact figures, just approximations). That means Vick had basically what amounts to three more games than Foles.
- Vick was a 10 year veteran and Foles was a rookie.
With that said, here are the numbers…
Vick: Completed 20 of 44 passes for 140 yards with nine TDs, two INTs and was sacked six times. That amounts to a 45.5 completion percentage and a 73.9 QB rating.
He ran it eight times for 33 yards, one TD and lost two fumbles.
Foles: Completed 11 of 27 passes for 75 yards with four TDs, no INTs and was sacked two times. That comes to a 40.7 completion percentage and an 88.1 QB rating.
He ran it three times for 11 yards, one TD and no lost fumbles.
If we projected each of their numbers for a full 16 game season, they would look something like this:
Vick: 34 completions out of 74 passes for 236 yards with 15 TDs, three INTs and sacked 11 times. That would amount to a 45.9 completion percentage and QB rating of about 76.4.
Then it would have been about 13 rushes for 56 yards two TDs and three lost fumbles.
Foles: 27 completions out of 66 passes for 185 yards with 10 TDs, 0 INTs and sacked five times. That would amount to a 40.9 completion percentage and a QB rating of about 88.3.
Then it would have been about seven rushes for 27 yards for two TDs and no lost fumbles.
Neither player performed particularly well in the red zone last season. As far as their QB ratings are concerned, Foles ranked 22nd in the NFL while Vick came in at 31st.
Just for dramatic comparison purposes, the top red zone QB in 2012 was Drew Brees. He completed 60 of 96 passes for 437 yards, 31 TDs, no INTs and was only sacked twice. When you look at his numbers in comparison to those of the Eagles’ QBs, it’s enough to make you want to regurgitate the Philly cheesesteak you just ate.
Of the top 10 quarterbacks in this area last season, seven of them made it to the playoffs. Again, another strong correlation of red zone performance and chances your team will make the playoffs (as one could obviously hypothesize).
Vick and Foles had relatively similar performances in the red zone last year (they even had the same amount of rushing TDs, imagine that!). However, the two things that stand out, and could determine who starts and/or finishes the season as the Eagles starting quarterback, are the turnovers and sacks.
Vick turned it over four times to Foles’ zero and Vick took six sacks to Foles’ two.
If there are two things that Kelly has made abundantly clear he won’t tolerate, it’s sacks and turnovers. And that’s just in general, let alone if this is happening in the most important area of the field for the offense.
Quarterbacks can be good between the 20’s, but they need to be better in the red zone. This is where efficiency matters the most (accuracy, good decision making and ball security).
Last year at Oregon, Kelly’s QB Marcus Mariota was stellar in the red zone. He completed 36 of 56 passes for 296, 19 TDs and no INTs. He also rushed for 18 times for 59 yards and three TDs (unsure if any fumbles).
In fact, neither of Kelly’s two starting quarterbacks in the past two seasons at Oregon threw an interception in the red zone.
Therefore, you can bet your ass that Kelly will be going crazy if his quarterback shows a penchant for turning the ball over in this area of the field.
Based on the above, Foles has the early edge in this category. If you also remember the rookie vs. 10-year vet aspect, then the edge becomes that much clearer. Foles should logically improve with experience, but we can’t say the same for Vick.
It doesn’t mean Foles will win the QB competition, it’s just something else to consider if you’re debating who will be the starting quarterback come September.