Highlighting the Biggest Changes in the Eagles' Offensive Play-Calling

JJ PernaContributor INovember 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles walks off the field after the Eagles failed to convert on third down during the second half against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on November 18, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

When you are forced to start a backup quarterback, you usually want to limit his pass attempts. Same goes for a rookie passer. 

It's probably a good idea when your quarterback is both. It's an even better idea when you have an elite running back as well. 

The Eagles do not agree.

With rookie quarterback Nick Foles getting his first career NFL start, fans' minds began to wonder. Would he look like he did in the preseason? Would running back LeSean McCoy finally get the number of carries he deserves? Would Andy Reid and the gang find a way to screw this all up too?

Foles looked average. McCoy's carries didn't increase. And yes, Reid messed up again. 

Nick Foles had 51 dropbacks against the Washington Redskins last Sunday, including 46 pass attempts. You read that right. The rookie quarterback threw the ball 46 six times in his first career start. 

In the eight full games Michael Vick has played this season, he only had more pass attempts (56) Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.

To put this in perspective, only two rookie quarterbacks have had equal or more pass attempts this season. Brandon Weeden did it once, and Andrew Luck did it three times. Then again, they don't have LeSean McCoy in the backfield.

At this point, Nick Foles is on pace for 60 pass attempts, 436 yards passing and 8 interceptions in his first start. #eagles #redskins #nfl

— Ryan Messick 973ESPN (@Ryan_Messick) November 18, 2012

The Eagles ran the ball just six times in the first quarter, compared to 15 passes from Foles. The good news is that the majority of those passes were screens and short, easy passes. The bad news is that those six McCoy carries were more than a third of his 15 total for the game. 

So instead of pounding the average Redskins defense, the Eagles decided to pass the same number of times in the first quarter as they ran all game. That's head-scratch worthy. 

The Eagles decided to pass more than they've averaged (38.3/game) and run less than they've averaged this season (19.6/game). But with all of those passes who were they going to?

Eagles went five-wide on 3rd down. Somehow, Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were ALL on the sideline. Who can explain?

— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) November 18, 2012

DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin totaled five receiving yards. When your top two wide receivers combine for a number of yards so small it has to be spelled out instead of using numerical values (in order to be grammatically correct), there's a problem.

Nick Foles targeted his fullback just as many times as Maclin. Riley Cooper and Brent Celek had 16 targets compared to Jackson's nine. It's not that those guys aren't capable, but doesn't it make more sense to throw slants and hooks to your biggest playmakers?

So where did the offensive play-calling lead us this week with a new man at the helm? We got more passes and fewer runs, and saw our best receivers on the field without the ball. 

Maybe it's fair to say Foles had a tighter leash. We didn't exactly see his big arm get unleashed like Vick has been allowed, whether it be play action or not. But if he's going to throw the ball close to 50 times, why shouldn't he have been allowed?

It's a sad thing to say that while we did see changes in the offense for Nick Foles, they were the opposite of what fans wanted and what the team needed. Foles showed flashes of his potential, but unfortunately it may take a new coach and a new strategy to fully unleash it.