Kelly likes what he sees in Foles

"What we've done for the last two weeks has worked for us," Chip Kelly said.
"What we've done for the last two weeks has worked for us," Chip Kelly said. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: November 13, 2013

Nick Foles' last two games have revitalized the Eagles season and brought the team back to a first-place tie in the NFC East entering Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.

Chip Kelly won't publicly name Foles the starter for the rest of the season, or even entertain the idea until Michael Vick is fully healthy, because the Eagles coach prefers the current week-to-week arrangement. But it does not appear that Kelly will change what's working.

"I think what we've done for the last two weeks has worked for us pretty good, so we're going to stick with that formula," Kelly said. "It's got us 16 touchdowns, no interceptions and two wins, so why would we change?"

The 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions are Foles' season statistics. Those numbers were bolstered by a three-touchdown effort in Sunday's win over the Green Bay Packers. He's 3-1 as a starter.

The reason Kelly will not name a starter for the reset of the season is because he does not need to. Time is on his side. Vick is still not ready to be a full participant in practice, so Foles will continue to take first-team snaps without question. Vick had a good workout at Lambeau Field before Sunday's game, but he'll still be too limited this week.

The only time Kelly has been definitive about the position was when both Vick and Foles were healthy during the preseason, and Kelly made Vick the No. 1 because he needed to begin to separate the snaps. There will be a point when Vick is healthy again, and only then will Kelly need to make a decision.

"When that day comes, we'll have a discussion," Kelly said. "But that day's not here."

Since Vick's initial hamstring injury last month, there has not been a week when both quarterbacks were full participants in practice. When both quarterbacks are healthy, Kelly will have a hard time sitting Foles.

When watching the film of Foles' performance against the Packers, Kelly was struck by how "really, really smart" Foles is on the field. Foles finished 12 of 18 for 228 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, and he also rushed for 38 yards.

There were a few big completions that could have reasonably been intercepted, but the results were what mattered. Foles still has not thrown an interception this season, and Kelly noted that he seldom makes "egregious" errors and that Foles makes good decisions.

"Very rarely do you see Nick throw a ball where all of a sudden it's tipped, you know, when it's almost intercepted," Kelly said. "Most of the time, to his credit, he's going to the right spot where it should be. He does a good job of protecting the football, especially when the pocket breaks down."

Despite a reputation for being slow-footed, Foles is a productive rusher. There's a perception that Kelly requires a fast quarterback to operate his offense. Kelly maintains Foles is an underrated athlete.

Foles was recruited to play college basketball at Georgetown and Gonzaga. His 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine was 5.14 seconds, but he's functionally mobile and can get yards when needed. Three of Foles' five rushes netted first downs.

"He may not be fleet of foot, but he's fleet of mind," Kelly said. "He's a really, really good decision maker. Part of being a guy that can distribute the football throwing the ball, being a good decision maker is the same exact situation in the run game. You have to be a good decision maker to know when to give it and to know when to pull it."

No one would confuse Foles with Vick or Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, whom the Eagles play on Sunday, but Kelly said the Eagles can still run the zone-read with Foles in the game. When defenses commit to LeSean McCoy, Kelly said, the quarterback must be able to make them pay.

"Nick has done that for us," Kelly said.

Kelly's reluctance to provide a season-long endorsement for Foles is not an indication of what Kelly thinks of the quarterback. He pointed out that he's had players get injured on Fridays, so naming a starter early in the week can be futile. He will need to name a starter at some point, but that will only arrive when Vick is healthy, he said.

"We don't have a quarterback deal because one of our quarterbacks is out banged up," Kelly said. "That's the way it's going to be. We don't have to make any decisions on anything because Mike's not going right now."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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