It seems very likely that the Redskins will be facing Nick Foles at quarterback when they take on the Eagles this Sunday. Although Michael Vick has not yet been officially ruled out of the game, multiple reports have said that he is unlikely to recover from the concussion he sustained in time to play.
In fact, the Redskins might not face Vick again this season, or ever as a member of the Eagles. And it wouldn’t be because Vick won’t recover from his concussion in time for the teams’ meeting on Dec. 23. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Andy Reid may bench Vick for the rest of the year in order to try to save his job. Reid will reportedly try to bring Foles along far enough to convince owner Jeffry Lurie and GM Howie Rosenbaum that he is the guy best suited to develop Foles as the team’s quarterback of the future.
But all that is to worry about later. What will the Redskins be looking at when they take on Foles on Sunday?
If we go on what we saw last Sunday against the Cowboys, look for a lot of short passes. As in very short passes.
Sheil Kapadia of the Birds 24/7 blog broke down Foles’ throws and found that 16 of Foles’ 32 pass attempts traveled five yards past the line of scrimmage or less. He completed all 16 of those for 95 yards.
Certainly the short passes were called in part to keep things simple for the rookie, who was the seventh quarterback taken in this year’s draft (behind even Redskins backup Kirk Cousins). But they also undoubtedly were called to protect Foles from Cowboys’ pass rush, which was going against the Eagles’ injury depleted offensive line. Of the five starters they had on their depth chart in the spring, four of them are injured.
In that respect, the strategy worked. Foles was sacked just two times, with one of those coming in the very late going on the play where he also was stripped and fumbled with Dallas recovering for a touchdown. Per Pro Football Focus, Foles was not hit or hurried on any of his 22 pass attempts.
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg may be tempted at least test the Redskins’ ability to get to Foles on some deeper patterns. Dallas’ pass rush has been considerably fiercer than that of the Redskins lately and even a beaten-up Eagles O-line may be able to hold Washington’s rushers at bay.
Still, I would look for the Eagles to keep it short and simple and try to set it up so that DeSean Jackson can perhaps turn a short pass and a missed tackle into a big play.
One thing I wouldn’t look for is a heavy dose of handoffs to LeSean McCoy even thought that would be the logical thing to do. Despite the fact that Vick went out in the middle of the second quarter, McCoy carried just nine times after Foles came into the game. To be sure the Eagles trailed by two scores most of the fourth quarter but it did not appear that Reid was inclined to change his pass happy ways even when the game was competitive.
On the other hand, Reid did say that the reason that McCoy did not get more carries is that he was sick during the week so maybe we will see a lot of McCoy, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry this year. His season high in carries came in Week 2 against the Ravens when he had 25.
The Redskins are eighth in overall rushing defense but 14th in allowing 4.2 yards per carry. They have faced a premiere running back only once this season. In Week 4 Adrian Peterson of the Vikings ran for 79 yards on 17 carries (4.6 yards/carry)