The Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback controversy seems to have finally come to an end. In the wake of Michael Vick's hamstring injury, Nick Foles has not only played well but has solidified himself as the long-term answer at quarterback.
He has flourished this season, posting a passer rating of more than 100 in all but one of his starts—a Week 7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He put that performance behind him and passed for seven touchdowns just two weeks later in his next start—a feat that tied the NFL's single-game record. Foles accompanied this performance with a perfect passer rating.
When looking at his dominance over his six starts this season, it becomes clear that the Eagles have found their quarterback:
|Nick Foles' Stats Over Six 2013 Starts|
Quite possibly, his most impressive stat of 2013 is zero—as in he has yet to throw an interception this season. The second-year quarterback has attempted 162 passes without a pick.
This is reflected in the Eagles' record. In the six games that he has started, the Eagles are 5-1.
The way that he has played lately could warrant a discussion that he may be the most impressive second-year quarterback in the NFL this season. His performances have blown away what Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have done thus far:
|Second-Year Quarterback Comparison|
Not only is Foles' domination clear among fellow second-year quarterbacks, but it is apparent when compared to each of the NFL's starters at the position as well. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), his efficiency has earned a positive-7.4 overall rating this season—good enough for 11th out of an eligible 39 quarterbacks.
Even Vick has realized Foles' tenacity as a starting quarterback, according to an interview with Phil Sheridan of ESPN:
In all honesty and all fairness, how can you take a guy out of the game who's playing so well? I understand the position this team is in. The one thing I never want to do is be a distraction.
Vick is saying all of the right things—and for a good reason. The 33-year-old veteran knows that the writing is on the wall. His days in Philadelphia are numbered.
As long as Foles remains healthy, Vick will remain on the sidelines.
After this season, Vick becomes a free agent. The Eagles would be grossly overpaying to keep him around for anywhere close to his current one-year, $7 million contract. In contrast, the 24-year-old Foles is in the second year of his four-year, $2.7 million contract—a very cap-friendly number.
With these contracts in mind, along with the selection of Matt Barkley in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft, there is no longer a need for Vick in Philadelphia.
It is doubtful that he would re-sign with the Eagles—even at a discounted price—to remain a backup. Several NFL teams could be looking for a one-year band-aid at the quarterback position in 2014. Common knowledge suggests that he will test the market and attempt to land with a team to compete for a starting role once again.
The Eagles boast a 6-5 record and sit atop the NFC East—one large reason is due to the stellar play of Foles. Head coach Chip Kelly has seen and realized that his high-octane offense runs nicely with the second-year quarterback at the helm.
During an interview with CBS Philadelphia, Kelly attempted to remain balanced when discussing his quarterbacks. He said this about Foles:
I think it’s been good. He’s missed a [run reads] and he’ll admit that. But a lot of that is through repetition. You’ve got to get a feel for how to do it. A lot of that is how much do we want to put him in those situations where if we hand it off, we get three. Yeah, we’ll live with that. We’re good with second and 7. But it’s an experience factor. You get a little bit more comfortable, little better feel of it. You get an understanding of what you can do and what you can’t do.
I think when Nick takes off, it’s not 60 yards, but it’s 6. In critical situations, he can still do that. So that is the point I was trying to stress there. We’re not calling—it’s not an entirely different package. But I think in everybody, there are subtleties in there that Nick may like this throw better than Mike [Vick] likes that throw. But overall we’re still running four verticals, double post concepts. We’re still running the quick game, still running our schemes. So I think that part is similar.
That's about all the praise that the coach could muster for the Eagles' second-year quarterback. After all, Kelly has not yet officially named a starter going forward. Instead, he said, "When they’re both healthy, I’ll sit down with both of them when they’re both healthy."
It is not difficult to imagine how that conversation will go.
Expect to see Vick in a different uniform in 2014. Welcome to the Nick Foles era in Philadelphia.