Is Nick Foles really in the Eagles' QB mix?

April, 4, 2013
4/04/13
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During this first week of their offseason program, the Philadelphia Eagles have made a few players available to the media, and one of the players who spoke Wednesday was quarterback Nick Foles. The gist of Foles' message was that he considers himself a candidate to be the Eagles' starting quarterback, plans to fight Michael Vick and the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster for the job and rejects the notion that he can't be a Chip Kelly quarterback because he's not fast. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"I wouldn't be right here right now if I didn't," Foles said. "I think I would be somewhere else. Yeah, I believe I fit here. I want to be here. I love this team, and I love this city."

Foles is usually mild-mannered, but he was adamant when reporters peppered him about his playing style. Foles is a 6-foot-6, 243-pound pocket passer. When the Eagles kept Michael Vick and signed Dennis Dixon, it appeared to offer more evidence that Kelly prefers a quarterback who can run.

Kelly has maintained that he will tailor his offense to his quarterback and promised a quarterback competition even after the team restructured Vick's contract.

[+] EnlargeFoles
AP Photo/Matt RourkeNick Foles might not win the competition to be the Eagles' starter, but don't assume his mobility will be a deciding factor.
Personally, I think quarterback foot speed is getting way too much attention as everyone keeps assuming they know what Kelly's going to run at the NFL level. I don't even think Kelly knows for sure yet, and if it's the kind of up-tempo offense he ran at the University of Oregon, then a quarterback's ability to make smart decisions in tight time windows is going to be at least as important as his ability to run fast. Vick seems like the right physical fit for the kind of offense Kelly ran in college, but if he's going to be making poor reads, throwing interceptions and fumbling the ball because of indecision, I doubt his 40 time is going to allow him to hold the job for very long.

But let's also keep it real when we're talking about Foles, OK? This is a third-round pick who was 1-6 with six touchdown passes and five interceptions in his seven-game rookie stint as the Eagles' quarterback in 2012. If Kelly were coming into a situation in which Eli Manning were on the roster, I think it's pretty safe to assume lack of running ability wouldn't sway his decision. A lot of teams who still really need quarterbacks passed on Foles more than once in last year's draft, and he didn't exactly light up the scoreboard once he got on the field. He may turn out to be a good NFL quarterback, but there's no reason to assume he's headed that way just because Andy Reid thought he was worth taking in the third round.

I think it's possible that Foles could win the preseason competition and be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2013. I don't think it's likely, but I agree with him that it's possible. But if he doesn't, don't assume it's just because he can't run.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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