With the regular season well underway, we’ve been looking at the players the Jets have added since cutdown day, continuing today with David Fales.
The 29-year old quarterback is listed at 6’1” and 212 pounds and was a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State in 2014. He’s only thrown 48 passes at the NFL level and is yet to make his first start. The Jets signed him earlier this year to back up Sam Darnold.
Fales was only a two-star recruit out of high school and initially went to Nevada, but after a redshirt freshman year he opted to instead go via the junior college route. After two all-conference years as Monterey Peninsula College, Fales transferred to San Jose State.
In both of his years with the Spartans, Fales threw for 33 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards. However, he completed 75 percent of his passes and only had nine interceptions in 2012, but only completed 64 percent and had 13 interceptions in 2013. Nevertheless, he was named as a second-team all-WAC selection for the second straight year.
Fales attended the scouting combine and was a projected late round pick. This led to the Bears selecting him in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He would go on to spend most of his first two seasons on their practice squad and did not play despite being added to the active roster a few times.
In 2016, he was released in final cuts and was on Baltimore’s practice squad until the Bears brought him back. He finally made his NFL debut in the season finale, completing 2-of-5 passes for 22 yards.
In 2017, Fales signed with Miami and they brought him back in October after having previously released him in final cuts. He had thrown just one pass entering the final game of the season, but replaced Jay Cutler early in the season finale against Buffalo and almost led the Dolphins to a comeback win. Fales ended up with 265 yards and a touchdown on 29-of-42 passing. He had one interception and rushed for a touchdown.
Fales remained with Miami in 2018 but did not play, then signed with the Lions in June but was released in preseason. The Jets signed him early in the season after Trevor Siemian’s injury, then released him when Sam Darnold returned. They then brought him back when they got rid of Luke Falk.
Now let’s take a look at what Fales brings to the table, divided into categories.
Fales lacks height, has small hands and posted poor numbers at the scouting combine. He ran a 4.99 in the 40-yard dash and his agility and explosiveness numbers were also bad.
Fales is considered to have underwhelming arm strength, whether that be on deep balls or passing into tight windows with zip. However, he can unleash a good throw from time to time. He puts good zip on this downfield pass.
In preseason action, he has actually had quite a lot of success on deep throws, highlighted by this 99-yard touchdown pass.
However, in regular season action, he was unsuccessful on each of his throws more than 20 yards downfield. That included one deep ball where his man had a step but he overthrew him. A penalty would have negated that touchdown anyway, though.
What he doesn’t possess is a good enough arm to compensate for the fact that he might see the open man a half-beat late. If he tries to zip the ball in there in these situations, defenders are often able to get over to break the pass up.
In regular season action, Fales has completed 65 percent of his passes, although that comprised mostly underneath passes. With a bigger sample size in preseason action, he’s only completed 55 percent of his passes with a completion percentage below 50 percent in three of his six preseason campaigns.
At times, he has shown an ability to hit his receiver in stride, but he’s inconsistent with this, often forcing his target to slow down or throwing behind him.
As you’d expect, his accuracy suffers when he’s throwing downfield or under pressure but he’s shown some examples of good accuracy in these situations.
Fales shows pretty good composure under pressure and doesn’t often panic, although there are times when he could be quicker at getting rid of the ball.
He does display some moxie and can elude pressure at times despite lacking mobility. On this play, he shows signs of happy feet, an ability to spin out of a sack and some good improvisation to get the throw off as he’s on his way down to pick up a first down.
Fales’ fundamentals are pretty good. He has decent footwork and balance, a quick, compact release and the ability to put touch on his throws. On this play, he displays an ability to throw downfield with a tight spiral despite being unable to step into the throw properly.
Fales executes play action fakes and option keepers convincingly and threw his only NFL regular season touchdown pass on a well-disguised shovel pass.
Fales can be a bit slow to go through his progressions or recognize players coming open and can be confused by blitzes. This can lead to him forcing passes into traffic.
In six preseason campaigns, Fales has only thrown seven interceptions. He also threw one at the NFL level, although this was more a case of him failing to anticipate the receiver breaking off his route than a poor decision. However, he could have made a safer pass in that situation.
As noted, Fales isn’t very mobile but he’ll extend plays by escaping the pocket and throwing on the move and isn’t afraid to step up. He doesn’t offer much as a runner, but did rush for two touchdowns at San Jose State and one with Miami in regular season action.
His lack of mobility is shown here as he steps up but is unable to reach the marker, forcing the Dolphins to have to punt.
Fales hasn’t contributed on special teams at the college level and wouldn’t be expected to at the NFL level.
Fales has plenty of connections with the Jets, but the main one is Adam Gase who coached him for a year in Chicago and two years in Miami, so he obviously knows the system. He’s also been coached by Dowell Loggains and was picked up by the Ravens while Chad Alexander was with the organization.
Former teammates of Fales in the current Jets organization include CJ Mosley, Josh Bellamy and Neville Hewitt.
Fales started all 25 games while he was at San Jose State and hasn’t had any injury issues at the NFL level, although he was listed with a thumb injury while in Chicago and had an elbow injury over the past few weeks.
Fales has excellent intangibles and is considered a film junkie with toughness and durability. In college he was regarded as a confident and passionate vocal leader with good intelligence.
While the hope is obviously that Fales’ services are not required this season or at any point in the future, he is a decent back-up at this point of the season.
Falk’s inability to play at a level even approaching base level competence is probably the reason the Jets opted to go with Fales instead. Fales gave a good account of himself when forced into action at the end of the 2017 season, running Gase’s system.
His upside is not high and he doesn’t really have any specific aspect of his skill-set that he excels at, but Fales can still establish himself as the kind of player who can step in if there’s an injury and hold the fort temporarily.
Whether we’ll see him get that opportunity with the Jets is another matter. Hopefully we won’t.