Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles Deserves Starting Nod, But Eagles Must Challenge Him Again in 2014

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a first quarter pass while playing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Gregory ShamusGetty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gary DavenportNFL AnalystNovember 27, 2013

There hasn't been a more talked-about position in the NFL this year than the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Barring another injury under center, it will be second-year pro Nick Foles' job for the rest of the 2013 season. However, even if Foles continues to perform at a high level, it's in the Eagles' best interests to continue to push the youngster.

Foles started this year as the backup to Michael Vick after losing a training camp competition to direct Chip Kelly's high-octane, fast-paced offense.

Foles saw spot duty in place of an injured Vick in Weeks 3 and 4. By Week 6, the former Arizona star was making his first start of 2013.

He hasn't looked back since.

Nick Foles 2013
Comp.Att.Pct.YardsYPATDINTRating
10316263.615549.6160128.0
Per NFL.com

With the exception of a horrific Week 7 start against the Dallas Cowboys, Foles has played as well as any quarterback in the NFL this season. That game against Dallas is the only one of Foles' five starts that the Eagles have lost and he sits at or near the top of the NFL in a number of statistical categories.

Created by Author

Given how well he's played, it came as absolutely no surprise that Kelly named Foles the starter for the rest of this season coming off the team's bye week.

As Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com reports, Kelly said, ""I've always believed you need to have one quarterback. I want our players to play from a desire to excel, not a fear of failure."

According to Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, even Vick concedes that the decision was an easy one for Kelly. “I was out there, I was playing good, Nick went out there and played great, and that’s pretty much the way it’s been,” Vick said.

Still, even with the Eagles playing well under Foles, it's important that both he and the Eagles not get complacenteven if Foles leads the Eagles to an NFC East title this year.

For starters, 2013 will all but certainly be Vick's last season in the City of Brotherly Love. Assuming that the veteran southpaw moves on in the offseason, the Eagles are going to be in the market for a backup.

If his performance this year has been any indication, Matt Barkley is NOT ready to be that backup.

Also, for as well as Foles has played in Kelly's offense, we're still talking about a 24-year-old player who will be making his 12th career start this week against the Arizona Cardinals.

Last year, the NFL was taken by storm by young quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were so enamored with Kaepernick that they dealt veteran backupand former starterAlex Smith in the offseason.

Both youngsters have struggled in 2013, and while San Fran's defense has kept the team afloat, Smith would have likely started a game by now if he was still in town instead of at the helm of the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs.

Yes, Griffin and Kaepernick are different types of quarterbacks, but that doesn't change the fact that young quarterbacks are going to have their share of struggles. Teams will get better at defending Foles as more film becomes available or after they face him multiple times.

Even if Foles continues to consistently play well, the specter of injury is always a consideration.

Had Vick not gotten hurt, we wouldn't be here to begin with. There are multiple teams in the NFL this year who have started three or more players at quarterback.

One of those teams, the Green Bay Packers, is 0-3-1 over its last four games and may miss the playoffs for one reason: It did a horrible job of backing up Aaron Rodgers and is now paying for it.

Mind you, none of this is meant as a dig at Foles, nor is it an implication that his play in 2013 is some sort of fluke. Sure, he's gotten a lucky break or two along the way, but nearly 200 passing attempts without an interception is no fluke.

His decision-making this year has been superb and he is quickly earning the right to be mentioned alongside Griffin, Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck where rising young quarterbacks are concerned.

However, whereas many might see an early pick spent on another quarterback next year as a "wasted" pick, it's really quite prudent.

Call it insurance. Call it motivation for a young player who still has plenty left to learn in the NFL. Whatever you call it, it's imperative that the Eagles don't rest on their laurels at the most important position in football—no matter the outcome of this season.

Luckily for the Eagles and their fans, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News revealed that Foles already appears to know the most important part of longevity at quarterback in the National Football League:

There you go.

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