In last Friday’s first pre-season game, not only did the Eagles offensive line struggle, but Nick Foles struggled in two series. Foles did go six of nine on his passes, and didn’t get a ton of offensive help, but he managed to throw as many picks in a few series as he did all of the 2014 regular season.
Now before we start raising red flags, let’s understand that this is still the pre-season. While watching Foles throw two interceptions in only nine attempts against the Bears was disappointing, it’s not the time to overreact. Even if the game had regular season implications, I can’t stress just how silly it is to think that Foles will only throw two picks again for an entire season. It would be great if that was the case, but let’s temper those expectations a bit.
Looking forward to the New England Patriots match-up this week, it’s hard to really gauge just how much Foles needs to show. It’s the second of four pre-season games, and while progression is always the end game, staying healthy is the priority. I’m more concerned with how Foles protects himself and reduces his turnovers than whether or not he can light up the scoreboard.
Against the Bears, he attempted nine passes and while six of them found targets, the two interceptions still linger in the minds of everyone. But had Foles thrown two touchdowns, we would have been mildly impressed, but we would all be waiting for Foles to put up that type of production in the regular season. So in this case, it might be unfair to expect Foles to win pre-season MVP, even if we aren’t completely sure that he will be able to perform like he did last year again.
There is no reason to believe he will play an extended amount of time against the Patriots, especially not with the battle for the third-string battle between Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne developing. That means it will be on Foles to make the most out of the limited snaps that he will have, and come out of it unscathed.
The Patriots are a team known for providing quality players that fit their defensive system on the field. The depth may not be amazingly visible, but for what the players are asked to do, Bill Belichick always gets a solid response. That means every defender on that field is capable of disrupting the Eagles offense, and there will be a heavy emphasis on the pass-rush.
In this particular instance, Foles has nothing to prove against a Patriots team that is feeling out its personnel more than anything. Should Foles be placed in a situation where he is liable to turnover the ball, that would be much more bearable than watching him take hits. Then again, him getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball away might be the perfect scenario.
One other thing that should be taken under consideration during this game is getting Foles some more time with wide receivers Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Brad Smith. Smith appeared the highest on the depth chart to start the game against Chicago, but Foles should be taking as many snaps as possible with all three potential slot receivers on the field. Establishing that chemistry will be much more beneficial than anything else, especially if we’re to presume that he’ll only throw about 8-12 times in this week’s game, before the three are expected to play a big role in what was an elite offense a year ago.
The Eagles preseason week three showdown with the Steelers, when the starters are expected to see extended time and look like they are in regular season form, is when the preseason becomes a little more results-oriented for Foles. Even then, the real pressure starts in the regular season.