Kelly names Foles the Eagles' long-term starting QB
Nick Foles is 4-1 as the Eagles' starting quarterback this season. (USA Today Images)
On the day he was finally named the starting quarterback, the usually discreet and antiseptic Nick Foles opened up to reveal his humorous side.
In describing the anticipated Tuesday meeting in which Chip Kelly informed both of his quarterbacks that the Eagles would be marching forward with Foles, the second-year quarterback promised the media that Kleenexes weren’t necessary during the behind-closed-doors summit.
“I just went in there. He told me the situation, that I was the one and Michael [Vick] is the two and let’s go,” Foles said. “It’s not like drawn-out, like in movies [where] it’s a big thing, you sit down, there’s tears.”
No consoling needed for Vick, who took the demotion with class and professionalism (see story). No time for tears of joy from Foles, even after the moment he’s waited for since training camp.
Also, no delusions about what demands are in store if Foles wants to convince Kelly that he should be the starter beyond 2013.
“Win. That’s it,” Foles said at his press conference. “You can do all the stats you want and do everything, but the most important thing is winning games and putting your team in position to win games.
"That’s why I play the position. You want the ball in your hands each and every play and you’re the one making the decision, so if you lose, a lot of that is on you.”
Kelly will learn plenty about the long-term viability of his quarterback in the coming weeks, starting with Sunday’s home game against the Cardinals, who field a top-10 defense known for takeaways.
After Arizona is another team currently above .500, the Lions (6-5), and a road game against lowly Minnesota (2-8-1) sandwiched between Chicago (6-5) and Dallas (6-5).
Kelly assured the masses that Foles need not be worried if he’s erratic here or there. He won’t land back on the bench in lickety split. (It’s worth noting that he said the same about Vick, but Vick’s problem was that he couldn’t stay healthy, not consistently poor performance.)
“I always believe you need to have one quarterback. I don't think our guys are going into games worrying about if they make a mistake,” Kelly said. “I want our players to always play from a desire to excel, not a fear of failure. So just go out there. The only thing I've told Nick before we go into the games is, ‘Go, let it rip, don't worry about things.’”
Kelly called the maturation of Foles, who’s currently the NFL’s highest-rated passer (128.0), “an ongoing process.” He said the growing body of work that led to Foles going 4-1 in place of an injured Vick enabled the coaches to see the second-year pro’s strong points. Foles has yet to throw an interception in 162 attempts, is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes and has 18 combined touchdowns.
“When we have a shot and can take it down the field, he's proven he can do that,” Kelly said. “He's got a great command of what we're doing. He's a lot more comfortable in what we're doing. So it's just kind of an ongoing process for him.”
Some teammates who were supportive of Kelly’s decision to start Vick after a training camp battle that lasted until the second preseason game were asked if they were behind the coach’s change.
DeSean Jackson, who shares an agent with Vick, hopped aboard the Foles bandwagon with no trepidation.
“He’s doing what he needs to do for us to be successful,” Jackson said. “He’s making a lot of reads. He’s not turning the ball over. He’s doing everything you would want your quarterback to do.
“In my eyes, as a wide receiver, he just gives us the best opportunity to win right now. Moving forward, hopefully it’ll stay that same way.”
Tight end Brent Celek echoed Jackson’s sentiment, adding that the Eagles’ march into December, and perhaps January, is dependent on Foles’ ability to take them there.
“I think that’s something that he looks forward to himself and we look forward to seeing him in that situation,” Celek said. “When the games get like this it’s time for us all to play big, especially him being the quarterback. We have faith in him. I think he’s a great quarterback. I think he’s going to do extremely well.”
Foles said he’s come a long way from his rookie year. The speed of the game isn’t as overwhelming and he’s learned that checkdowns are fine when the deep ball isn’t there.
As for the fact that his name is above some of the league’s elite in plenty of quarterback statistical rankings, Foles isn’t delusional that the Cardinals are game-planning against him the way they would Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or any other NFL star quarterback.
“They’re gonna view me as me. We’re different people,” Foles said. “They’re gonna see that. They know that I’m a younger quarterback. I’m 24 years old. It’s been a crazy season. We’re finally getting things going.
“They’re definitely going to look at me totally differently. Brady, Manning, those guys have done it. They have such a bulk of work. Rodgers, all those guys. You can’t really compare that, just because I’m a younger guy. I haven’t played enough. Those guys are pretty darned good.”