Week 10 marks the first time in well over a month that the Philadelphia Eagles won't have to think about who is their starting quarterback. Nick Foles throwing seven touchdowns in one game affords those kinds of comforts.
Or does it?
The day after Foles etched his name into NFL record books with a performance for the ages, Chip Kelly was unwilling to name a starter for his team’s upcoming tilt with the Green Bay Packers. The Birds’ head coach informed reporters that it depends on the health of Michael Vick.
We’ll update Vick’s status a little later on, but is Chip serious? Surely this is nothing more than a little bit of gamesmanship on Kelly’s part, and Foles will get an opportunity to pick up where he left off. Right?
Who knows, but after games like Sunday, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue Foles doesn’t given the Eagles the best chance to win. Yes, there have been bumps along the road—none more damaging than the Dallas game a few weeks back—but Vick has come out flat before in big games too.
More importantly, Foles is 24 years old with only nine starts under his belt. Win or lose, it’s time to see what the sophomore field general can do once and for all.
Despite Kelly’s best efforts to play coy on the subject, there’s little doubt he’s feeling the same way.
NFC East Standings
|NFC East Standings|
|Dallas Cowboys||5-4||Last: 27-23 W vs. MIN||Next: @ NO|
|Philadelphia Eagles||4-5||Last: 49-20 W @ OAK||Next: @ GB|
|Washington Redskins||3-5||Last: 30-24 W vs. SD||Next: @ MIN|
|New York Giants||2-6||Last: Bye||Next: vs. OAK|
Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
The Cowboys managed to escape Week 9 with a victory over the Vikings despite handing the ball off just eight times for 28 yards. Famous running-game detractor and former Eagles boss Andy Reid would be proud of the nearly 90-to-10 pass-run ratio.
Despite some inadequacies, Dallas maintains control of first place in the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
The Birds are only a game out of of first place officially, but in reality it’s much further. Dallas currently owns a better record in the division (3-0 vs. 2-2), which means that even if Philadelphia salvages a series split with the Cowboys, they’ll likely lose the next tiebreaker.
The Eagles need to finish with a better record to reach the postseason.
Washington Redskins (3-5)
Needed overtime to keep their shrinking playoff hopes alive, but a win is a win. Keep in mind, Washington was 3-6 this time last year before running the table over the final seven games. Robert Griffin III has yet to recapture the magic from his rookie season, though, so don’t expect a repeat without some improvement under center.
New York Giants (2-6)
The Giants lost in Week 9, and they weren’t even on the schedule. Dallas, Philly, and Washington all won, further downgrading New York’s already slim (nonexistent?) playoff hopes in the process. For what it’s worth though, the G-men are riding a two-game winning streak.
Week 10 Opponent: Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Aaron Rodgers may have caught a break, which would mean the Eagles did as well. Green Bay’s signal-caller exited Monday night’s game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return, and while the team claimed there was no diagnosis immediately afterward, rumor has it Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone, per Chicago Bears sideline reporter Zach Zeidman.
If the Packers are without the 2011 league MVP, journeyman backup Seneca Wallace will be in line for the start. The 10th-year veteran completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and an interception in relief of Rodgers in Green Bay's 27-20 loss to the Bears.
|Philadelphia Eagles' Notable Injuries|
|CB Bradley Fletcher||Pectoral||Left Game Week 9|
|LT Jason Peters||Pectoral||Left Game Week 9|
|QB Michael Vick||Hamstring||Inactive Week 9|
As of Monday, it didn’t sound like Mike Vick would be healthy enough to start Week 10 even if that was actually preferred. Chip Kelly admitted at his day-after press conference that he did not anticipate the four-time Pro Bowler at practice on Tuesday, and the head coach was unwilling to offer a timetable on a return.
Kelly also updated the conditions of two more starters who suffered injuries in Oakland.
Jason Peters is expected to practice on Tuesday, which is great news with Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews slated to make his return from a broken thumb. If the left tackle suffers a setback, journeyman Allen Barbre will be tasked with keeping the All-Pro sack artist at bay. Matthews has three sacks in four games this season.
Kelly was less optimistic about cornerback Bradley Fletcher’s availability this week. Fletcher has been having a superb season, and the Eagles are perilously thin beyond their top three corners. Even with Seneca Wallace at the helm for Green Bay, the absence of a top defensive back could prove difficult for Philly to overcome.
What Must Improve (All Nick Foles Edition)
When a team wins by a final of 49-20, tell me, what truly must improve the following week? Well?
Not so easy, is it?
When in doubt, just pick on the best player from said blowout. Sure, Nick Foles became the seventh player in NFL history to throw for seven touchdowns in a single game, and it’s true, he was the first person ever to do it with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
Greatness doesn’t rest on past accomplishments, though, so here are three areas where Foles stands to build.
Consistency and/or Middle-ground
Over the course of his last three games, we’ve seen Foles go from NFC Offensive Player of the Week to completing 38 percent of his passes for less than three yards per attempt to making NFL history. Setting records is fun and all, but if he can barely complete a pass the following week, what good are they?
Since he was thrust into the lineup midway through last season, Foles has mostly shown incremental improvements. Every once in a while, though, he becomes inaccurate and indecisive, and the wheels come off for the entire offense.
If Foles has any shot at being an NFL franchise quarterback, he’s going to have to be a little more consistent. Obviously nobody is expecting him to post a 158.3 passer rating every time out, but he can’t throw for 80 yards in a game like he did against Dallas in Week 7 either.
It’s worth noting that Foles has only nine career starts under his belt, so maybe it’s a tad early to call his consistency into question. That said, it’s certainly going to be a measure of whether or not he takes the next step in his development.
Raising the Bar
Good quarterbacks beat bad teams, and Nick Foles can only play the competition that’s been put in front of him, so you can’t fault the player when he hangs a seven-spot on the Oakland Raiders. That said, Foles’ lack of quality wins is noticeable.
The second-year passer’s record as a starter is just 3-6, but more to the point, the combined records of the three teams he’s beaten is 10-22. One of those opponents, the 2013 Tampa Bay Bucs, is still searching for its first win.
In order to make believers out of people, Foles at some point is going to have to earn Ws against teams with winning records. It looked like the Packers would offer the opportunity this week, but now it appears they’ll be without Aaron Rodgers.
Again, though, Foles can only defeat what the schedule puts in front of him, and Green Bay is 5-3 this year. If the Eagles can get can the job done at Lambeau Field this Sunday, it would be difficult to claim that wasn’t a solid win for a young QB on the rise.
C’mon, Nick. You had two more chances to throw what would’ve been a record-setting eighth touchdown pass before Chip pulled you from that game. Is there any doubt that Peyton Manning would have made history for the Denver Broncos given the same situation? You mustn’t let that first-ballot Hall of Famer hold his fictitious eight touchdowns over your head!