Foles the Eagles' starter, at least this week

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles learned after Tuesday's practice that he will start Sunday at Oakland.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles learned after Tuesday's practice that he will start Sunday at Oakland.
Posted: November 01, 2013

CAN NICK FOLES end the "quarterback instability" Chip Kelly says he feels has stymied the Eagles' offense lately?

"That's why I'm here," Foles said yesterday, after Kelly announced Foles will start this Sunday at Oakland. "I want to get this thing going . . . It starts with [the quarterback position]. We've really got to make the right decisions and get our offense stable. The defense is doing a great job, and I expect them to continue to play at a high level. We've just got to pick it up and play together as a team."

It didn't seem to be a coincidence that after weeks of not knowing or at least not being definite with reporters over which of his quarterbacks would start in the upcoming game, Kelly made a clear Wednesday announcement this time. Foles said the coach informed him of the decision after Tuesday's practice.

"It does bring some stability at the beginning of the week to know who's going to be in there, because you're taking the most reps with them and getting an idea of how they move in the pocket, and stuff like that," Foles said.

Kelly was asked if he thinks his quarterback situation will be unstable, week-to-week, indefinitely.

"God, I hope not," he said. "You know, Nick got knocked out in the Cowboys game. I didn't pull Nick out of the game. I looked over and Nick is lying on the ground. We had to put another guy in."

In 2 strong days of practice, Foles has proved to Kelly that he is recovered from the concussion that took him out of the Oct. 20 loss to the Cowboys at the end of the third quarter. Now he must prove that he's the QB who won NFC Offensive Player of the Week Oct. 13 at Tampa, not the one who short-circuited before exiting early the next week against Dallas.

"You can't let one game, one thing in your life, affect the rest of your life," Foles said, revisiting a theme he established when he spoke right after returning to the field Tuesday. "Obviously, there's going to be down days and stuff. You come back . . . I've played a lot of games of football in my life. Played a lot of good games of football, more so than bad games. I'm ready to just go out there and execute our offense and get a win."

On the day Kelly officially announced that Michael Vick and his reinjured hamstring won't play this week, it seemed appropriate to try to get a feel for how Kelly sees his QB situation, moving forward. Will Vick get another chance to reclaim the job? Wouldn't eliminating Vick from the starting discussion bring more stability to the position? At what point does Kelly start to think about the future, instead of about winning week-to-week?

On this, Kelly was unexpectedly impassioned. He said he owes it to the players and fans to keep trying to win.

"I'm going to make my determination on a weekly basis, who our quarterback is, first and foremost based on health. The ideal world, Mike is the healthiest in the world, Nick is the healthiest in the world, Matt [Barkley] is the healthiest in the world. Let's get to that point in time, and we'll have a conversation," Kelly said.

Doesn't that prolong the instability, though?

"It doesn't prolong anything. I'm getting ready to play the Oakland Raiders, and I'm getting ready with Nick Foles and Matt because Mike is not practicing today, and that's it. It doesn't help us - me, anybody, and that's not the way I think - to say, 'Hey, next week when Mike comes back, what are we going to do?' Because, what happens if next week when Mike comes back, Nick and Matt are hurt? I don't know.

"And I think you just jump through mental gymnastics, if this happens and that happens - you have no idea."

Next year, Kelly said, "doesn't come in. It's about beating Oakland. That's it. It's a 1-week season, and that's all it is . . . I think it's a disservice to those other players on the team and it's a disservice to our fans if I'm thinking about who our quarterback is going to be next year . . . We're trying to win the game we're playing this week, and if we start planning long-term, I may not be here long-term, you know what I'm saying? So let's go beat Oakland."

Center Jason Kelce said knowing Foles will start probably helps Foles, and to some extent, his receivers, not so much the offensive line. Kelce said he didn't think it really matters that much to the offense overall, since it has practiced and played with both Foles and Barkley now.

Left guard Evan Mathis said he's sure Foles is eager to make amends for his misfires against Dallas.

"Any of us that have performances that we're not proud of, we owe it to our teammates, our coaches, to come back out and perform," Mathis said. "I trust the guy. I trust him to come out, execute, play solid. I'd like to give him as much time [in the pocket] as we can, let him know we have confidence in him."

Kelly said something similar.

"One of the things about Nick that I love is, I think there's a resiliency to him," Kelly said. "Nick didn't play well in the Dallas Cowboys game, and he understands that. But I've seen Nick play well . . . I've got a ton of confidence in Nick, and I'm excited to see him get back on the practice field."

Barkley, the fourth-round rookie from USC, had entertained hopes of getting starter's reps in practice this week and his first NFL start this weekend back in his native state, after 2 weeks of being tossed into games the Eagles trailed, with little prep time. Barkley and Foles split the QB reps Tuesday. But yesterday, Kelly said before practice that Foles would get the normal No. 1 QB's 48 reps, and Barkley would get the normal No. 2's 12.

"I'm going to keep working," Barkley said. "Obviously, you want to be the starter."

Barkley said Kelly told him of the decision early yesterday morning.

"You might have been able to see this coming, with Nick's experience," Barkley allowed. "But that's not an excuse not to keep pushing."

On Twitter: @LesBowen


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