Chip Kelly smiles as Nick Foles runs off the field following a scoring drive for the Eagles in Sunday's 49-20 win over the Oakland Raiders. Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com
Look into the crystal ball that is the Eagles future. Do you see who’s playing quarterback?
The Eagles are turning into a soap opera when it comes to the quarterback situation. One week, there is no quarterback. The next week, Nick Foles reigns supreme, winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week. The week after, it’s as if he was killed off, floundering in the biggest divisional game of the season and suffering a concussion in the process.
That leads to the return of the second-chance story that is Michael Vick. He too gets hurt. And just as everyone starts buying into the draft scenario, the supposedly dead Foles returns and becomes the hero.
With 406 passing yards, seven touchdown passes – which ties an NFL record – and no interceptions, a perfect 158.3 passer rating, is there any question who the NFC’s Player of the Week will be?
It’s bound to be Foles.
Chip Kelly can put the whole quarterback controversy to bed right now by making Foles the starter for the remainder of the season. He’s not committing to that. There’s still a good chance that will happen regardless, but what does that do to the Eagles future?
It wasn’t too long ago that I too bought into the talk about drafting a quarterback. The Eagles weren’t going to need Vick’s services. Foles may not be more than a backup. Barkley wasn’t close to being ready to start in the NFL. They needed somebody they could throw right into the spot, from the draft to the gridiron.
Sunday’s game may have toned down the talk.
Could the Eagles still use a definitive franchise quarterback as Jeffrey Lurie finally admitted this week? Yes. Do they need to sacrifice everything to draft him? No.
Would the Eagles be in that bad a shape if they had to start Foles beyond this season? That is the burning question after Foles dominance against the Raiders.
In three starts and an admirable fill-in effort against the Giants five weeks ago, Foles has not only led the Eagles to a 3-1 record, he’s silenced critics quite a bit.
Foles performance on Sunday is more record-setting than it seems. He joins a host of quarterbacks with seven touchdown passes. But only three of them, including Foles, also threw no interceptions. Foles is on the only one to throw all seven in the first three quarters. He threw for the most yards per attempt in a seven-touchdown performance – 14.5 yards per attempt – and attempted the fewest passes, 28, in a seven-touchdown performance.
This was excellence at its finest. That being said, beyond this year, is Foles the man for the job?
By virtue of a win over the Raiders, suddenly the Eagles have now matched the 2012 season win total with four wins. A loss on Sunday would have changed the tune completely. It would have been a sign of tanking. With the Packers and resurgent Redskins still on the schedule before the bye week, the Eagles would have been destined for 3-8 going into the bye week with a loss on Sunday.
But that dominating win brings on the question of how involved the Eagles are in the NFC East race. Like every other team involved – the Cowboys, the Redskins and the Giants – there is no real victory to being the division winner. They won’t suddenly become Super Bowl favorites with Foles. But they could become a middle-of-the-pack team. Instead of being a nearly automatic top-five pick, are they more of a top-half? Is their pick now suddenly something in the range of 12-16?
The Eagles need to be careful with what they do. There is no problem with moving on with Foles beyond the 2013 season. But if the future of the franchise, a Marcus Mariota or a Teddy Bridgewater, is waiting in the draft to be picked up, whether by picking 12th or 16th or trading up for a pick, the Eagles should and probably will do it.
But Foles have proven he can be a serviceable starter. He may not be a starter for this team, but he could service somebody. Perhaps he could even become marketable enough that a team struggling for a quarterback that isn’t willing to gamble on the draft will allow the Eagles to use him for a trade to get a Mariota or Bridgewater.
So when you really think about it, this was a win-win for the Eagles. They may have their starting quarterback for good. They may also be able to trade their current starter for the draft position that will get the starter of the future.
Whatever the Eagles future holds at the quarterback position, at least it can be put to rest for the remainder of the season. For now, that should put some of the questions to bed.