Football fans around the Delaware Valley received an announcement Tuesday from Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. If you’ve been following the Eagles closely this season the announcement wasn’t a huge surprise. Over the past month the Eagles have been a resurgent team winning the past 3 games under 2nd year QB Nick Foles. So the question coming back from the bye naturally was when would Coach Kelly make it official that Foles would be the official starter. Well, we didn’t have to wait long. The Eagles returned to practice Tuesday to prepare for their upcoming match with another playoff contender the Arizona Cardinals. Kelly met with Foles and former starting QB Mike Vick early Tuesday morning and advised Foles would be the man for the remainder of the season barring any injury.
The numbers have been overwhelmingly in the favor of Foles since he began his run back in October. Other than a flat performance at home against Dallas back in October Foles has been consistently good. He’s gone 4-1 since being the starter and also came in to save a game against the Giants when Mike Vick initially went down with the hamstring injury that ultimately cost him his job. Foles’ passer rating of 152.8 in November was the highest rating for a full month in NFL history. He threw a record tying 7 touchdown passes against Oakland. He’s thrown 16 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions during his run. Most importantly, he’s led the Eagles into a position they haven’t been in since 2010. That place is playoff contention. The numbers are the numbers but at the end of the day coach Chip Kelly worries about wins.
Starting Sunday this franchise will embark on a December with meaningful football for the first time in 3 seasons. Would they have been in this position with a healthy Mike Vick at the helm? Possibly, but that’s the beauty of sports, you never know what will happen on any given day. Aside from Vick’s breakout 2010 season he’s been very inconsistent as Eagles starting QB. Sure he fits the prototypical Chip Kelly QB. He can run, he can throw, and he does everything Chip Kelly usually requires out of his QB’s, except he doesn’t consistently win. The Eagles were 2-4 under Vick this season. He completed 55 percent of his passes, threw 5 touchdowns, only threw 3 interceptions, and had an 86.5 passer rating along with 308 rushing yards on just 34 carries. Most teams around the league would take that stat sheet from their QB. But Foles went 4-1 as a starter threw 16 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
Vick said it himself during an interview last week on local sports radio basically stating how can coach Kelly take Foles out now? Vick has shown nothing but class and leadership as a result of this decision. He stated “I didn’t want to make this a hard decision for Coach, I didn’t want to make it a hard decision for anybody.” Vick and Foles have grown very close over the past 2 seasons and Vick enjoyed watching Foles grow as QB. The irony of Vick being benched is that it’s basically the exact same way he became the starter back in 2010. At that time Kevin Kolb was the Eagles starter. He went down in the first game of the season with a concussion which opened the door for Vick who played lights out football. Once Kolb was healthy enough to return there was no turning back from Vick who had the team rolling right into the playoffs. A starting QB going down with an injury opening the door for the backup to come in a light up the field to ultimately steal the job and lead the team to the post-season, sounds familiar right? At the end of the season Vick will become a free agent. He already expressed his desire to remain a starter in the league so I’d have to think his time with the Eagles will come to an end at the conclusion of the season.
Coach Kelly expressed his desire to have only 1 starting QB on his team. During his press conference to announce the decision Kelly said “I always believe you need to have one quarterback. I don’t want our guys going into games worrying about if they make a mistake. I want our players to always play from a desire to excel, not a fear of failure.” Kelly couldn’t have said it any better. He dangled the chain in front of other teams long enough this season. Sure the Eagles had an advantage going from week to week having opponent’s game plan for both Foles and Vick but at the end of the day that strategy could only go on for so long. It wouldn’t have been fair for Foles to come out after the bye worried about if he’d be the starter each week. This decision will allow Foles to go into games with peace of mind knowing he’s the man and it’s his team.
No one knows for sure just yet if Foles will be the long term starting QB after this season. Some fans have already looked ahead to the draft and realized a good amount of QB talent will be available this spring. The next 5 games should tell us a lot about the direction this franchise plans to go in when it comes to the QB position. If Foles lights it up and leads this team to the playoffs then he should be the starting QB going into next season. If the Eagles falter down the stretch and fail to reach the postseason and receive poor performances from Foles then it might be back to the drawing board for the Eagles when it comes to the QB position. But once again, that’s the beauty of sports; you never know what will happen. For right now Foles is the man, so let’s enjoy the show.