Eagles' Andy Reid needs to put Nick Foles in a position to succeed

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles should be given game plans that take pressure off him.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles should be given game plans that take pressure off him.
Posted: November 23, 2012

IT IS HARD TO know exactly how the game-planning conversation goes, because none of us has ever been in the room with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. Both have their conversational crutches - Reid always gets around to talking about just trying to win the game in front of him on the schedule; Mornhinweg tends to mention, when the talk turns to runs and passes and ratios, that every game is different - but we all know by now that they believe in throwing to win and that doing anything else compromises their vision (and, in their belief, their chances of victory).

Agree, disagree, both, neither, whatever. It is hard to work up much enthusiasm for any of this anymore. The Eagles and their fan base are just watching the seconds tick by until the end of the season - and the great unknown. Reid will not publicly entertain the notion that this is the case, and he sounds as if his priority is the same as always: getting better and winning games. Publicly, again, you would not expect anything else.

But after Reid walks away from the microphones and heads into his meetings, you have to hope there has been a shift. Because now, for this franchise, given everything, the difference between 3-13 and 6-10 is entirely meaningless (except on draft day).

With that, two points:

First, Nick Foles has to be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

And if Reid is serious when he says Michael Vick will get the job back when he is recovered from his concussion, then Reid should be fired. Between now and the end of the season, it is the only reason he should be fired.

Second, the game plan does need to be scaled back and they cannot ask Foles to throw so much in the next few games. The Washington experience last week is instructive, and if Reid and/or Mornhinweg continue to refuse to compromise their vision, owner Jeffrey Lurie needs to make clear that dropping Foles back 50-plus times again on Monday night is not in anybody's interest.

Maybe the Eagles can beat Carolina on Monday night by playing it more conservatively, and maybe they can't, especially given the likely absence of running back LeSean McCoy (concussion). But the ultimate point here is that winning is not the most important thing - not more important than creating an environment in which they can evaluate Foles and in which he can improve.

Last week, they did not create that environment. They came out throwing, even if many of them were short passes. They came out throwing, and the game started going south and they came out throwing even more - 46 pass attempts, four sacks, one run. Looking through old stats and searching for a quarterback who threw more than 46 times in his first NFL start, well, it is a bit of a search. I think maybe St. Louis' Sam Bradford did it, but that's the only name I could find. Even if I missed one or two, you get the point.

It was too much. Foles did not take the physical beating Vick often took this season, but he still wilted as the game wore on. His accuracy suffered. His mechanics were all over the place. The numbers are plain enough: 12-for-22 for 120 yards in the first half, 2-for-4 for 34 yards in the third quarter, 7-for-20 for 50 yards in the fourth quarter.

Whether the accelerating deterioration was because of simple fatigue or the weight of the day's disappointment is unknown - but there was deterioration. Reid acknowledged as much.

"For a young guy to start off with the two interceptions, I thought he hung in there pretty good working through that," Reid said. "When it turns into a throwing game and it's your first game, I don't think that's an advantage to you. You want to still be able to mix with a young guy and give him a few different options that he can work with. So I'd probably say that more than fatigue."

Which is all true, except that Reid and Mornhinweg turned it into a "throwing game" from the very start. As for Foles, he is locked into his learn-from-your-mistakes mantra, which is fine. On Wednesday, he said, "It's a faster game but I have to adapt to it. I have to get faster."

On a conference call the other day, Carolina coach Ron Rivera - the Eagles' former linebackers coach on Reid's staff, back when - talked about Reid being every bit like a CEO in his job, someone who has always "made the decisions that are best for the franchise."

On that topic, we are about to see - because, at this point, the best thing for the Eagles goes beyond wins and losses.

" @theidlerich

Blog: philly.com/TheIdleRich

philly.com/RichHofmann

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