Nick Foles: Wide receiver partnerships for the future


Nick Foles made his debut for the St. Louis Rams in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, where the team suffered an unfortunate loss, 18-3.

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Nick Foles opened the game as the Rams starting QB, along with the potential starting offensive line-up for Week 1 of the regular season. The Rams’ new quarterback only contributed two drives throughout the game and was pulled, making way for second-string quarterback Case Keenum to play the majority of the game. This was to be expected from any team during the preseason. During these two drives Foles completed 3 of 5 passes (60%) and seemed to find a little chemistry with the receiving corps, even in such a small sample size.

A simple breakdown of these passes helps identify Foles’ preferred targets during the game against Oakland;

  • Tavon Austin; 35 yard pass from a screen play
  • Lance Kendricks; 26 yard pass
  • Kenny Britt; 8 yard pass

Aug 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams receiver Tavon Austin (11) is pursued by Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) in a preseason NFL football game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Looking to these targeted receivers, people may recall that Tavon Austin has been under scrutiny since entering the NFL for his lack of contribution as a receiver. However, under the new quarterback, Austin could be targeted a lot more. What was also noticeable on this play was the effective blocking by the Rams, resulting in the 35 YAC during the play.

Next, we have Lance Kendricks, the second-string tight end on the depth chart for 2015. Kendricks has been a consistent back-up tight end in St Louis, but has lacked that edge that many hoped would carry over from his college days at Wisconsin. Foles may need to use Kendricks as a safety valve on broken plays, so chemistry here is vital.

Lastly is Kenny Britt, who was Rams’ best receiver last year. Britt was targeted for a short 8 yard gain on Friday. Britt is predicted to act as Rams’ number one receiver in 2015 based off last season statistics, so Britt would be a natural partnership that Foles will want to develop. Britt showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie in Tennessee, but injuries have bothered the receiver and created a string of inconsistency. Britt will certainly look to return to form in 2015.

It seems that Foles understands the passing game in St Louis, as he is making a connection with the receiving corps. These partnerships remain an essential factor that could dictate the success of the Rams in 2015.

Dec 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams receiver Kenny Britt (81) reacts against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite these positives for the receiving side of the game, the Rams’ offense did struggle to protect the quarterback at times, making it hard for Foles to get the ball moving successfully. This young offensive line will need real veteran leadership from the only true veteran on it, Rodger Saffold. Unfortunately, Saffold left Friday’s contest four plays into the game with a shoulder injury.

Foles recognizes the need for these improvements as he commented to the media leading up to the training camp sessions with the Dallas Cowboys starting Monday, as Jim Thomas (St-Louis Post-Dispatch) reports;

“I’ve done joint practices before, and you get a lot out of ’em in the sense that you get on the same page with your guys. In my situation, a young O-line gets to go against Dallas’ defensive front, so it’ll be really good to practice against them.”

Foles showed promise in his short, yet effective contribution in Oakland, with glimpses of talent that reminded people of his Pro Bowl talent. Although, preseason is a time where players hold back their intensity, Nick Foles has shown exceptional quality, beginning partnerships on the pass play that will help his game in St Louis.

The Rams will now begin their two-session training camp with the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard CA. Foles will need to continue to focus on these partnerships before their game against the Tennessee Titans.

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