Should Philadelphia Eagles Make Nick Foles the Permanent Starting Quarterback?

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIOctober 14, 2013

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It happened late last season, it happened in training camp, and now it's happening again. The Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback controversy. And this one isn't going to go away anytime soon. 

Unlike most controversies when neither quarterback is playing particularly well and the head coach has to pick one of them, the Eagles have two players who have shown that they're capable of winning football games in this league. 

The fanbase seems to be split on who should start for the team moving forward, as veteran Michael Vick and second-year man Nick Foles have each played well this year.

With Vick nursing a hamstring injury, Foles had his chance to shine against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs don't have a win this season, but they do boast a very good defense, including arguably the league's best cornerback in Darrelle Revis. 

Foles was dominant on Sunday, throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He added a rushing touchdown. He didn't turn the ball over and led the Eagles to 31 points. Their victory kept them tied for first place in the NFC East. 

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 24:  Nick Foles #9 0f the Philadelphia Eagles hands of to Bryce Brown #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 24, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Brian C
Brian Cleary/Getty Images

This season, Foles has posted a 127.9 passer rating in a little over a game-and-a-half. He is directly responsible for two of the team's three victories, as he came off the bench late in the second quarter against the Giants last week to spark Philly to a much-needed divisional win.

It's safe to say that Foles has earned at least one more start, especially with Vick still less than 100 percent according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via But the big question is whether Foles has earned the right to start for the remainder of the season.

First, let's look at what Vick brings to the table.

There's no denying that Vick has exceeded expectations in 2013. His scrambling ability, aided by a powerful throwing arm, has made him one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the league. 

Vick is leading the NFL with 16.7 yards per completion, and he's second with 9.0 yards per attempt. His 90.6 passer rating is the second-highest mark of his career. And he's averaging a career-high 9.3 rushing yards per attempt to go with three touchdowns. 

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 29:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 29, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Don't forget that Vick's ability as a runner has led to the league's most dangerous running attack. LeSean McCoy is averaging 6.13 yards per carry with Vick at quarterback, compared to just 3.75 yards with Foles.  

But even with Vick's threat with both his arm and his legs, Foles has to be the guy for the Eagles for the rest of the season.

This shouldn't even be a debate.

Foles doesn't offer much as a runner, although he's probably a little better than most think. But he's much more accurate. He's completing 67 percent of his passes, compared to just 54 percent for Vick. He's the top passer in the whole league when facing pressure (Vick is 36th), per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). 

He's getting the ball out in just 2.63 seconds, compared to 3.40 for Vick (per PFF). He's taken just two sacks in 1.5 games, compared to 12 for Vick in 4.5 games. His pocket presence and awareness are noticeably better than Vick, who still seems to make at least one "What was he thinking?" play every game.

And more importantly, Foles has a future in the NFL. Vick doesn't.

With Vick at 33 years old, there's no denying that he's past his prime as a starting quarterback. He's a perfect stopgap option, similar to Carson Palmer in Arizona, but anytime you have an opportunity to move on from a stopgap, you take it. 

Foles has continued to improve with each start in the National Football League. He's thrown nine touchdowns and two interceptions over his last seven games. And he's finally getting the opportunity to play with a healthy Eagles squad, as opposed to the injury-decimated team in the second half of the 2012 season. 

Foles might be the franchise quarterback for the Eagles, and he might not. But Vick definitely isn't.

Even the biggest Vick supporter can't possibly think this team has a chance to win a Super Bowl with him at the helm. For starters, even if the Eagles managed to make the playoffs with Vick, I have no confidence that he could stay healthy throughout the entire postseason. He's an injury waiting to happen. 

But Foles is showing a lot of signs that he might be the quarterback of the future. If Foles plays well for the rest of the season, the Eagles can make the 24-year-old their starting quarterback in 2014, which will allow them to use their first-round pick on one of their more pressing needs, like a defensive back. 

And if Foles plays poorly and doesn't lock down the starting job for next season, the Eagles can draft a signal-caller in the quarterback-heavy 2014 draft class. Or they can let Foles and Barkley compete for the job. Remember that Barkley was at one point considered one of the top prospects in college football. He may very well have a bright future in this league. 

Chip Kelly needing a running quarterback is a myth. He'll work with what he has. He's succeeded with both Vick and Foles.

With Vick, he has a tremendous scrambler and explosive playmaker who is inaccurate and prone to erratic turnovers. With Foles, he has a slow, accurate pocket passer with good awareness and underrated mobility in the pocket.

More importantly, he has a guy with a lot of upside and a potentially bright future. 

End the debate, Chip. It's time to name Nick Foles the starter for the rest of the season.