How Nick Foles and Michael Vick attack defenses differently

November 14, 2013

The Washington Redskins go in search of their fourth win of the season against division rival Philadelphia. The Redskins have already lost to the Eagles once this season, but Philadelphia is a different team from the one the shocked the Redskins on Monday Night Football back in Week 1. Nick Foles has made the most of his opportunity to start at quarterback and has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception over his past two games. Michael Vick caused Washington all sorts of problems in the season opener. His running threat combined with that of LeSean McCoy and the read-option attack of Chip Kelly was devastating. Vick is a rare quarterback that can make defenders miss in the open field, and Washington fell victim to that in their previous meeting.


This play was a standard read-option play. Vick is reading the back-side defender and will either hand if off or keep it himself depending on that defender.


Brian Orakpo crashes down on the running back, McCoy, allowing Vick to pull the ball and run himself.


Rookie safety Bacarri Rambo comes up to meet Vick in the hole, but Vick plants his foot in the ground and dodges around Rambo as if he wasn’t even there.


Once Vick beats Rambo, he has open field ahead of him. Vick managed to pick up 36 yards on the run before DeAngelo Hall managed to chase him down and push him out of bounds.

Washington struggled to contain Vick’s rushing ability all night, but Foles doesn’t provide the same threat. The Eagles are still willing to run the read-option with Foles, but it doesn’t quite carry the same effect on the defense.


Here is Foles running the read-option last week against the Green Bay Packers.


The backside defender, Clay Matthews, crashes down on McCoy, signaling Foles to keep the ball and run himself.


But instead of making a safety miss a tackle, Foles slides and avoids the potential hit. Instead of picking up 20 or 30 yards like Vick might have, Foles picks up just four. With Foles in the game, the defense is much more comfortable focusing on McCoy and allowing Foles to pick up the occasional three or four yards. So in that regard, Washington will be happy not to see Vick in the game on Sunday.

However, Foles offers a different threat to the defense. Rather than challenging safeties physically by running at them, he challenges them mentally. Foles has been much better than Vick at holding safeties in place to give his receivers one-on-one match ups. Let’s look at a deep touchdown pass to Riley Cooper against the Raiders a few weeks ago.


Oakland is planning to shift its coverage after the snap from a two-deep look, to a single-deep safety. Philadelphia has Cooper running a deep post route.


Foles does a good job of immediately looking to his right off the snap. He does this to get the deep safety to believe he’s throwing right.


The safety slightly bites to Foles’s right, which opens up the big hole for Cooper to run into. Foles comes back across the field and pulls the trigger on the deep shot.


With no deep safety to help, the corner has a lot of work to do to stop Cooper from catching this ball. In the end, the corner slips and falls, leaving Cooper wide open for an easy touchdown. But Foles’s manipulation of the deep safety helped make this play. It happened again later in the game.


This time, DeSean Jackson was running a go route up the sideline.


Foles looks to his left after the snap and even adds a pump fake to further manipulate the safety.


The deep safety is frozen in place, leaving the speedy Jackson one-on-one. Once again, the Eagles get a stroke of fortune as the corner slips and falls.


Jackson is wide open down the sideline for another easy touchdown pass. The safety had no chance to make up the ground and stop the touchdown, thanks to Foles.

So while the rushing threat isn’t the same, Foles still needs to be respected. The Eagles have been plenty willing to take deep shots throughout games, and Foles has been able to connect on a number of them. While he won’t test the Redskins’ safeties ability to tackle in space, he will test their mental ability in coverage. It will be interesting to see just how Washington reacts.

Mark Bullock is The Insider’s Outsider, sharing his impressions of the Redskins’ play without the benefit of access to the team.

Opening Kick: Which quarterback is a better matchup for Redskins, Foles or Vick?

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins practice at 1 p.m. Coordinators Jim Haslett and Kyle Shanahan are expected to speak to reporters before and afterward.

More on the Redskins & NFL:

Doug Williams, fired by Grambling, mulls a return to the NFL | Photos

Wise: At 3-6 a third time, Shanahan won’t quit | Reid: Coach deserves new deal

Several Redskins auditioning for new contracts during stretch run

Griffin says he needs to take fewer hits | Kelly preps for improved Griffin

D.C. Sports Bog: Morris as a blues brother | Rookies and breakfast sandwiches | More

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

Post Sports Live, Foles or Griffin?

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is putting up very impressive numbers this season. The Post Sports Live crew plays GM and chooses between Foles and RGIII. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)
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Gene Wang · November 14, 2013

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