It is time for the Eagles to go with Foles

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles, in his regular-season debut, winds up to throw his first TD, a 44-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles, in his regular-season debut, winds up to throw his first TD, a 44-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin.
Posted: November 12, 2012

NONE OF US knows exactly how this is going to have to work, mostly because the Eagles have not been in this position in forever. Maybe the doctors will make it easy and say that Michael Vick and his concussion need time to heal. If not that, maybe Andy Reid will swallow hard and make the last big decision of his tenure by himself. If not that, maybe owner Jeffrey Lurie will walk down the hall and into Reid's office and make the decision for him.

However it goes - and this, admittedly, is a close call - they need to decide that Nick Foles will finish the season as the Eagles' quarterback.

It is just time. After Sunday's 38-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys - a game that really defined the Eagles as a bad team, as astounding as it is to write that phrase - they are 3-6. They have lost five games in a row. They are not dead as far as the playoffs are concerned, but you can reach the shovels from here.

You want to respect the coaches and the players and the process. You want to give them every chance to succeed this season, because the truth is that the league really is ridiculously inconsistent, and the thing tends to be won not so much by the last team standing but the last team staggering.

So there is the desire, on the one hand, to play it out until it doesn't make sense anymore. But there is the imperative, on the other hand, to find out about Foles.

Are they at the point where the imperative takes control? Yes, they are. In the absence of an injury, Vick would have deserved at least one more start. If Vick had a sprained something-or-other, and they could tape it up or shoot it up or whatever, they also could have justified running him out there again next Sunday against Washington. But this is not that. Even if he were magically cleared by the doctors, Vick would not possibly be himself. There would be no point to it.

But somebody needs to make that decision. Reid, after the game, was not ready to do it.

"He's the quarterback, yeah," Reid said, when asked if Vick would be the starting quarterback if he were healthy. "But he's hurt right now, so I have to just see how he's doing. Let's take a little consideration for Michael here."

Reporters caught a glimpse of Vick a while after the game ended, in a stadium hallway, and said he still looked unsteady. So the decision might be easy. There is a chance that historians will be able to note that the time was 5:23 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2012 - the time when Nick Foles took his first snap as the Eagles' quarterback. The time when the page turned.

Vick was forced out of the game in the middle of the second quarter. He was hit by former Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims while throwing an incompletion, and then examined by trainers on the bench, and then walked into the locker room. Whether the injury occurred on the Sims hit or the play before is unclear, but the diagnosis was a concussion.

Foles began warming up as Vick walked to the locker room. After several minutes of that, guard Evan Mathis - a.k.a. The Last Lineman Standing - went over and talked with the rookie. Even from a distance, you could tell it was a moment designed to calm down the rookie and to re-state the organization-wide hope that Foles is the future. Then the defense held and Foles entered the game.

It was 5:23 p.m.

The future was now.

Foles admitted to experiencing "butterflies," but he said when he got into the huddle and looked around, he was calmed. "You're a team," he said. "You're brothers. I looked into their eyes and I felt comfortable."

He underwent a full shakedown cruise. He was good (a 44-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeremy Maclin), and he was lucky (an interception was called back because of a penalty), and he was unlucky (a slant thrown slightly behind DeSean Jackson clattered off Jackson's hands and was intercepted and returned 47 yards for a touchdown). His overall numbers - 22-for-32 for 219 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one sack/fumble that went for another Dallas touchdown - were reasonable.

Foles got the ball out quickly. He seemed to check down a lot to safer throws, and was pretty accurate overall. But there also were a couple of plays when the Cowboys seemed intent on baiting him into a disaster, and he took the bait.

"I thought he handled himself well," Reid said. "He saw things and he made some great checks in there. Again, for a guy who hasn't taken the reps with the first group, I thought he did some nice things. As far as managing the game, it looked like he went to the right place with the ball when he had pressure. There were some positives there."

They need to see more. We all do. It was not supposed to go like this for the Eagles in 2012, and it is a little hard getting used to the idea, but there is no pretending anymore. Vick's concussion just clinches the thing. It's over. It's time to see what the kid has.

Email: hofmanr@phillynew.com

" @theidlerich

Columns: philly.com/

RichHofmann

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