Last Sunday night in Dallas, NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth continuously railed on Nick Foles for not keeping his eyes down the field at the first hint of pressure. His analysis was contrary to Foles' reputation as a QB who will continue to look down the field for open receivers despite a heavy oncoming rush. It's one of the reasons Andy Reid's regime drafted him, and one of the reasons he has had so much success this season.
In the second quarter against Dallas, Collinsworth first mentioned what he perceived as a major flaw in Foles' game. "When Nick Foles is having to hold the ball," explained Collinsworth, "you can see it, the more tape you watch on Nick Foles, where it's not there right away and he starts to run, he tends to drop those eyes and lose focus down the field, and sacks come."
Collinsworth's narrative continued throughout the rest of the game. On Monday, Ron Jaworski went on 97.5 the Fanatic with Mike Missanelli, and disagreed strongly with Collinsworth's analysis.
"I have great respect for Cris Collinsworth," said Jaworski, "but I did not see Nick Foles losing his vision down field. And it’s one of the things I’ve studied on Nick all season long. I study all the quarterbacks, but obviously in Philadelphia, I’ve been enamored with the play of Nick Foles because he’s years beyond his time. And I’ve spoken to Nick about this, and he is not a guy who will look at the rush. And look, when you have to start getting chased out of the pocket that’s a whole other story but when I talk to Nick he talks about vision, how he sees through a muddy pocket, eye manipulation, moving safeties, so he’s working on his (QB) doctorate at a young age, playing the position. So I would disagree with (Collinsworth) on that assessment that his eyes were dropping."
Jaworski continued, explaining that Foles would rather take a sack than force the issue and turn the ball over.
"Clearly there were some plays when the Cowboys did an excellent job in their man coverage scheme," said Jaws, "and that’s when you don’t want to make a mistake, when receivers are covered, do not force the throw. Maybe he took some sacks, and maybe he threw a couple away, but he did not turn the football over with an interception. That’s the one thing about Nick, 27 touchdown passes, only two picks. Don’t turn it over, give yourselves a chance to win. He understands that."
Jaworski went to say that Foles' vision is actually a significant strength, as opposed to the weakness that Collinsworth sees.
"I talk about vision. You have to be able to see the field, see where defenders aren’t. A lot of quarterbacks will throw the ball up because they don’t see where the defenders are, so they just throw the football. (Foles) looks for open spaces where he can lead a receiver where a defender is not in the area. He plays the game with excellent vision. It’s an attribute that we talk very little about when we discuss quarterbacks. But there are some guys, they just stare guys down, and defenders run right to the football. Nick is not that kind of guy."
Jaworski was also asked about the Eagles' next opposing QB, Drew Brees, and he is of the opinion that Brees struggles in outdoor conditions.
"There’s a discernible difference in Drew Brees’ ball indoors and outdoors," explained Jaworski. "If this game was in New Orleans, this would really be a tough football game for the Philadelphia Eagles to win. But it’s at home. It’s at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s going to be cold. It’s likely to be windy. It’s going to be a raucous crowd."
"Drew Brees struggles in rough, inclement weather. He doesn’t have a gun. He doesn’t have an Aaron Rodgers kind of arm, a Matthew Stafford kind of arm. His ball doesn’t spin as much. There’s more surface for the wind to hit the ball and move the football. He doesn’t throw that real tight, spinning spiral, so the wind is going to affect that kind of ball, and it also moves the ball. So when the ball moves, receivers don’t catch it cleanly. The two games that I did, on the road, for the New Orleans Saints, they struggled in the passing game."
In other words, according to Jaws, the worse the conditions this Saturday, the better it will be for the Eagles.