Five Reasons Nick Foles Should Start at Quarterback for Philadelphia Eagles

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Top Five Reasons Nick Foles Should Start at Quarterback for Philadelphia Eagles

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Yes, Philadelphia, for the first time since Rodney Peete and Ty Detmer battled it out for the starting job in the late 1990s, there is a legitimate quarterback competition in the City of Brotherly Love.

For those observers of the Philadelphia Eagles who envision Michael Vick returning to glory at age 33 and suddenly acquiring the ability to recognize blitz packages pre-snap and deliver the football with pinpoint accuracy while finding the fountain of health for the first time in his ten-year career, it may be time to adjust your expectations. Nick Foles, who stepped in for Vick at season's end, has been splitting first team practice reps with the 10-year veteran during this spring's OTAs and even surpassed him in Monday's practice.

While Foles clearly lacks the raw athletic ability that Vick still possesses, even at this stage of his career, he certainly is more than adept at dropping back and completing passes with accuracy and getting rid of the football quickly. The Eagles are not committed financially to Vick beyond training camp at this point, and there remains a legitimate possibility that if he is not deemed the unquestioned winner of the quarterback competition that he could be starting the season elsewhere.

Meanwhile, playing Foles this season gives Kelly the opportunity to field an offense capable of winning immediately while also evaluating the second-year signal caller and whatever future he may have on this team with rookie Matt Barkley also in the fold.

This slideshow will make the case that the right decision not only for the Eagles circa 2013, but for the future as well, is to start Foles week one.

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5. Foles' skill-set fits Kelly's scheme

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

There's a common misconception that Chip Kelly's uptempo scheme makes having a running quarterback tantamount to success, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Borrowed directly from a coaching clinic taught by Kelly while at Oregon, the first-year head coach values many of the same traits that have already been seen in Foles' brief NFL career.

"In our attitude," Kelly outlines in his coaching manual. "Every sack is the quarterback’s fault. It is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game on an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away, and give us another opportunity to make a first down. If you throw it away, it is second-and-10 for the first down. If you take the sack, it is second-and-16 for the down. If you can stay away from negative yardage plays, you will be successful. We base the success formula for offense on the total number of plays. Take those plays minus the dropped balls, offensive penalties, and negative yardage plays, and divide by the total number of plays. If the answer is 80 percent or better, you win the game. The total number of good plays is what you want to consider."

For the record, Vick was sacked 28 times last season, threw 10 interceptions and had a total of ten fumbles, losing three of them. Meanwhile, Foles was sacked 20 times behind an offensive line featuring four backups and only threw five interceptions, losing just one fumble in his six starts and seven appearances.

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4. Foles Gets Rid of The Football Quickly

Quick Release
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

There's a certain cerebral-ness that successful quarterbacks must have, and that is especially the case in Kelly's offense that requires the quarterback to make quick decisions. Again, a note from Kelly's coaching manual:

"The job of a quarterback is simple. He has to let it happen, and not make it happen. We want to move forward. That is a concept you have to make your team understand. The cardinal sin at our place is the quarterback sack. We want the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in 1.5 seconds. That does not mean holding the ball until 2.5, waiting for someone to get open.”

In terms of getting rid of the football quickly, Foles got rid of the football nearly half a second faster than Vick's 3.4 seconds per pass last season.

As a rookie, Foles became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to complete over 60 percent of his passes while averaging over 240 yards per game after posting a 60.3 percent completion percentage for 1,699 yards and six touchdowns last season.

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3. Foles Has Experience In The Read Option Offense

Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

From what we have seen in brief glimpses behind the curtain of Chip Kelly practices, his offense is going to borrow a lot of different principals from a lot of different areas.

There's no doubt that the quarterback will be required to protect the football at all costs and make sound decisions in a no huddle situation. But beyond that, there will be situations in the game that call for zone read plays to be run. While Foles presents little running threat, having posted a 5.01 40-yard dash time at the 2011 NFL combine, he does have experience in the same scheme from his college career at the University of Arizona.

"I feel comfortable with it. I've done it before. It's a great play. If you run it successfully, it's a great play," Foles said after Monday's practice. "As a quarterback, you've just got to be able to get a couple 5-, 10-yard runs a game. It puts the defense on their heels because they really have to watch out for you because they don't want to give up a big run to the quarterback. I'll tell you that."

There is no denying Foles' confidence in himself succeeding in the offense, and it is quite telling that only two weeks into the spring OTAs and he is already edging Vick in first-team practice reps.

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2. Foles Has More Upside Both Today and Tomorrow than Vick

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

After Michael Vick suffered a concussion last November, Foles was thrust into action against the Dallas Cowboys and started the next six games before breaking his hand against the Washington Redskins late in the week 16 contest.

Along the way, the Eagles posted just a 1-6 record in those seven games, but that was due in large part to a porous defense that surrendered 31.3 points per game and allowed 30 or more points in five of the seven games he started. Foles, however, was asked to lead an offense that lacked LeSean McCoy for three games, Brent Celek for four, and was without DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for the better part of others due to injuries behind an offensive line that featured Evan Mathis as the only standing starter from opening day.

Still, despite captaining an offense besieged by injuries, Foles finished with a 79.1 rating and the Birds averaged 20 points per game over that span.

Traditionally, quarterbacks improve by leaps and bounds from year one to year two. By starting Foles, the Eagles can better evaluate their future plans at quarterback and develop a list of needs at the position or elsewhere in upcoming drafts and free agency periods as Kelly lays the groundwork for his program.

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1. Consistency at Quarterback is Key and Foles Provides Stability

Vick Injuries
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Let's face it, Michael Vick is a walking injury waiting to happen

Over the course of his ten-year career, Vick has played a full 16 game season just once and has missed 39 games due to injury. Last season, Vick missed six games due to a severe concussion suffered November 11th against the Dallas Cowboys.

Because Vick plays the game with a sense of reckless abandon with no regard for ball or body security combined with his 6'0" frame, odds are that he will miss time at some point this season. That's especially true if he struggles in games as much as he has early on in practice making down field reads and choosing to tuck the ball and run with it. That simply cannot happen in Kelly's first season that will likely be this team's most important developmental year in nearly a decade and a half.

By contrast, Foles stands at 6'6", 243 pounds, is statuesque in the pocket and will be playing behind an offensive line that could turn out to be among football's elite.

By distributing more first-team practice reps to Foles this week and drafting pure pocket passer Matt Barkley last month, Kelly tipped his hand in what he values in a quarterback. At age 33 with a diminishing skill-set and high injury risk, there is little upside to starting Vick this season when Foles provides stability and a glimpse of what the offense could look like with either he or Barkley under center for years to come.



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