To properly break down his mechanics, I wanted to see him successfully throw the ball downfield for a completion, and compare it to a fare less glamorous play. Foles demonstrated his deep ball potential on a throw to Maclin in the first half against the Benglas that gained 42 yards. In the second half, he threw an interception on a throw down the left sideline that was the first of 4 turnovers to follow for the Eagles. Let’s take a closer look:
Q2: 12:39- Shotgun snap, one drop-step, fake handoff. Ball is hardly shown to RB, Brown’s movement is the first play action. Foles then sets his feet with a quick two-step shuffle to fake a bubble screen to Jackson on the outside. After pump fake, Foles resets his feet similarly to before, instead putting his shoulders square further down the field on the right sideline. While he sets his body in the right direction, Foles fires as he plants his back foot and does not drive into the throw. His arm action is fluid, with a quick release and not dropping the ball far below his shoulder. The result is a tight spiral with a lot of loft that Maclin has to wait for downfield. This is an example where the propensity for Foles to throw his deep ball on a higher trajectory can hurt his receivers and cause them to lose yards that could be gained. Maclin ends up down at the 12, where a lower arcing throw may have netted the two a touchdown. Regardless, Foles was able to shoulder the throw downfield 40 yards in the air off his back foot. The question is not of arm strength, but rather mechanics to fully display that arm strength.
Q2: 5:58- High shotgun snap, directly into 5-step drop. Starts looking right in the beginning of his drop, and progresses his read to his second option on the left by the time he hits his 5th step and drives forward into the pocket. Bounces once and fires deep down the left sideline. There is pressure off the LT so that Foles can’t fully drive into his throw. Also, his shoulders are not square enough to his target, which should be further down the field. By not being able to fully set his feet, drive, and follow to the left, the ball floats more than it should and is picked off as the corner lets Maclin overrun the throw and makes an athletic grab for a long return. While this was not fully Foles’ fault on the throw, he had one-on-one coverage and Maclin beat his man deep, he does need to be able to manipulate his footwork better to square his shoulders to the target and produce a better throw downfield. Even with the higher trajectory and pressure in his face, the throw traveled 48 yards downfield.
I don’t believe that Foles lacks the requisite arm strength to play QB at the NFL level, but if he does not adjust his mechanics with his lower body to produce throws with a lower trajectory, he may struggle to successfully throw the deep ball in game situations, no matter how well he can avoid pressure in the pocket.