Eagles' decision is easy: start Foles, sit Vick

Posted: October 17, 2013

I DON'T THINK people are looking at the Eagles quarterback situation through wide enough lenses.

Coach Chip Kelly doesn't have that difficult of a decision to make regarding who should continue as his starter.

It should be 24-year-old second-year signal-caller Nick Foles, not 33-year-old veteran Michael Vick.

It's hard to look beyond the here-and-now in the midst of a season, but that's exactly what Kelly needs to do.

This is not about this season.

The only reason things have gotten blurred is because the rest of the NFC East is so bad that the mediocre Eagles (3-3) have a showdown for first place against the equally mediocre Dallas Cowboys (3-3) on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

But let's be realistic about this. Even if the Eagles end up winning the East and making the playoffs, that's about as far up the success ladder that they'll climb.

They aren't beating Denver, New England, New Orleans, San Francisco or Seattle to get to the Super Bowl or to win the Super Bowl.

The Birds have as much chance of winning the Super Bowl now as they did in January when they lured Kelly from the University of Oregon to start the rebuilding of a team coming off a 4-12 season.

The talent base of that team is what Kelly inherited from former coach Andy Reid. No matter how optimistic you want to be, that is not something that can be overcome in one offseason.

Yes, the Eagles are in first place after six games, but let's not stray from the fact that this is still a team in the midst of rebuilding.

And that, more than any other factor, is why Foles should remain as the starting quarterback until he shows he can't handle the job.

I'm not saying that Vick was playing poorly before he went down with a left hamstring pull against the Giants 2 weeks ago.

In fact, it was more the opposite. In most situations, Vick had played well enough to be given his job back when healthy.

But the way Foles has played since relieving Vick in the second quarter against New York has changed the dynamics.

I admit that I was against Kelly keeping Vick as part of his rebuilding plan. I saw no benefit to signing a 30-something quarterback coming off successive mediocre seasons to a 1-year contract when the goal was planning for the future.

Nothing that has happened so far has changed that opinion.

The only reason Vick should have been named the Eagles starting quarterback was if Kelly thought he could field a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

I can't imagine that Kelly honestly believed that.

Vick isn't going to lead the Eagles to a championship now, and at this stage of his career, he isn't going to be the Eagles quarterback of the future.

So in the big picture, that makes him obsolete considering what the Eagles need to find out this season.

What the Eagles will desperately need to know at the end of 2013 is whether Foles and/or rookie Matt Barkley are legitimate candidates to be the quarterback of the future.

With quarterbacks like Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley expected to enter the 2014 draft, it has been speculated that at least a half-dozen quarterbacks could be selected in the first round.

The Eagles need to know if they need to be in the mix for one of those guys, or can set their sights on filling other needs.

The best way to find that out is to first learn what you do, or do not, have in the young quarterbacks already on the roster.

I don't think any of the college quarterbacks carry a can't-miss rating like a Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

In an ideal world, considering how many other holes they need to fill, the Eagles wouldn't have to use any high picks on drafting another quarterback prospect.

At minimum, Foles' play since taking over for Vick has been intriguing.

In six-plus quarters, Foles has completed 38 of 56 passes (67.9 percent) for 493 yards with five touchdowns.

Despite not having the foot speed of Vick, it can be argued that in this small sample Foles has actually run Kelly's offense more efficiently.

"I do believe I can run this offense the way coach Kelly wants us to," Foles said. "I feel really confident in that, because of the personnel we have around us as quarterbacks."

While there was no formal announcement yesterday, Vick didn't sound like a quarterback who would be ready to play against Dallas when he talked about "the knot" still being in his hamstring.

That will likely make it easy and uncontroversial for Kelly to go with Foles.

But if Foles plays well on Sunday, what happens the following week against the Giants if Vick is back at 100 percent?

Kelly might find that a difficult situation, but to me it would be easy.

I'd stick with Foles. But then, I would have gone with Foles from the beginning. Finding out if he can operate Kelly's offense was always more important to the big picture than finding out if Vick can.


Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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