Long term he could be fine, and much better than fine. Nick Foles is filled with those rosy words that infuse fan bases with frenzied hope. You know, stuff like potential and upside and such. He has a lot of that.
Right now, he’s still learning, and still struggling at times, and most of all he’s being a rookie at a position that’s not the Eagles’ primary problem. But don’t tell anyone.
Nick Foles is still a rookie
What, exactly, did we expect? That Nick Foles would suddenly be some kind of avenger, parading in to resurrect an offense, a season, a franchise, and a head coach? Talk of benching Michael Vick has always been the most ridiculous conversation of this football season.
That’s not because Vick hasn’t been awful at times (he has), and it’s not because he hasn’t made massive, mind-numbing mistakes (he has). No, it’s because the problems of his team go far beyond his control, most notably a still weak run defense and a vastly under performing yet highly-paid cornerback (hi, Nnamdi Asomugha).
The Vick-Foles discussion has always centered around Vick’s poor decision making. So when Vick sustained his concussion today and Foles was forced into action, would a rookie quarterback — and one taken in the third round — suddenly make better decisions in his first game appearance? Mostly not, as Foles had an interception and he lost a fumble in his own end zone, and he nearly threw a pick six on an absolutely horrid screen pass that was lofted directly to Anthony Spencer. Luckily he was bailed out by Morris Claiborne’s persistent effort to also look like a rookie when he took a holding penalty and negated the play.
Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck have mostly made being a rookie quarterback look easy. But they’re elite, once in-a-generation talents playing at an elite level. The more normal rookie bell curve is what we’ve seen from Russell Wilson this year. The rookie arm navigates the proverbial peaks and valleys, a process that hopefully isn’t too crushing (see: Gabbert, Blaine). And there were definitely peaks to balance out the lowly dark valleys for Foles in his first outing, highlighted by his beautiful arching 44-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin that he launched after being forced to find open space in the pocket.
That’s the saving grace here for both Eagles fans, and from a fantasy perspective. Eagles fans now know that Foles’ upside is real, even if it needs to be coaxed out of him gradually as he faces intense pressure behind a feeble offensive line. For fantasy owners of the Eagles’ top offensive players (Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy), we saw enough this afternoon to know that the drop off in production if Foles has to replace Vick for a week or longer will be minimal at worst.
Danny Amendola is still catching a lot of footballs
Even though he missed three games due to a shoulder injury and therefore played only his sixth game of the season today, Danny Amendola still has 43 catches. That’s kind of really good, but it gets better. Of those catches, well over half of them (26) have now come over two games between his 15 receptions back in Week 2, and his 11 today during the worst game ever played (a 24-24 tie between the 49ers and Rams, the first tie in the NFL since 2008).
Amendola is a gift bestowed upon us by the point-per-reception league overlords. The only discouraging aspect of his play is his inability to take a few more of those catches into the end zone. Despite his high volume of receptions and targets in few games, he’s still scored just twice, meaning at this pace he’ll score only one touchdown on every 21.5 receptions this year.
That’s some serious waiting for scores, and it’s why for now, Amendola’s value will continue to be somewhat limited in non-PPR formats. Still, at worst he’s a WR3 most weeks in standard leagues, and one of the best options out there to slot into that spot.
Sidney Rice is still scoring a lot
Speaking of those great WR3 options, how ’bout this guy? With two more today during Seattle’s easy 28-7 win over the Jets, Russell Wilson has now thrown seven touchdown passes and just one interception over his last three games. Four have landed in Sidney Rice’s hands, including both of Wilson’s TD passes today.
Rice now has five touchdown catches over Seattle’s last five games, positioning him on the opposite end of the scoring efficiency spectrum than Amendola. During that stretch in which Rice has had a modest 17 receptions, he’s averaged a touchdown every 3.4 catches, a streak highlighted by two touchdowns on just two catches today.
Rice thinks receptions that aren’t touchdowns are the worst.
Vernon Davis is still being average
Nothing if not consistently average of late, Vernon Davis had another very mediocre day, finishing with 30 yards on four receptions, and an especially pedestrian average of 7.5 yards per catch for a tight end who averaged 11.8 per grab last year. We could take the easy way out here, and blame this on Alex Smith’s injury that changed the complexion of the 49ers’ offense immediately. But that would be a load of horseshit.
Davis has now had less than 40 receiving yards in four straight games, a streak of awful highlighted by a Week 7 win over Seattle when he posted zeros across the board: no yards, no catches, no targets. After a hot start that featured four touchdowns over San Francisco’s first three games, Davis hasn’t scored since, and he’s now spent a quarter of the season as an afterthought.