It was recently released in an interview via CSN Philadelphia that former starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick stated that he had no doubt in his mind that now starting quarterback Nick Foles should remain the starter.
“In all honesty, in all fairness, how can you take a guy out of the game who’s been playing so well?” said Vick on his call in to radio station 94 WIP.
Knowing Vick’s competitive nature, this was a bit surprising to see him come out and say. Now, after weeks of dancing around the idea, it seems head coach Chip Kelly has finally come around as well.
“He’s the starting quarterback for the next 1,000 years here,” Kelly told reporters, including Reuben Frank of Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.
As ludicrous as it may have seemed that Coach Kelly would not disclose who his starter would be going forward, I agreed with his stance. With Vick still unhealthy and third string quarterback Matt Barkley playing awful in the games he started, Foles had no threat for his job security as the first string quarterback. By not naming him the starter, I felt that Kelly wanted Foles to continue with his foot on the gas and not feel relaxed enough to let his game slip. It may seem obvious that if he doesn’t play well he’ll lose the job, but with the phenomenal stat line of Foles in his 2013 campaign, it would be a difficult decision to replace him. Last thing Kelly needs is a comfortable quarterback whose desperation to prove himself in this league is pushing himself and the team to new heights. Take the 2010 season as an example.
If Eagles fans recall, the first game on Philly’s schedule was in Packers stadium with former quarterback Kevin Kolb at the helm. After Kolb went down with a concussion, no one really knew what to expect from then backup quarterback Michael Vick. He shocked the world when he ran for huge chunks of yardage, proving that he hadn’t lost a beat in his time away. More impressive perhaps was Vick’s ability to stay in the pocket and move the ball down the field with his arm. His performance nearly brought the Eagles back from a 13-3 deficit and effectively earned him the starting job. Even when Kolb was healthy, Vick continued his superhuman play and kept the quarterback sidelined. Vick was determined to silence the critics and prove he was superstar material.
Vick finished the season with a career high passer rating (100.2), completion percentage (62.6), passing touchdowns (21), and rushing touchdowns (9). He also won the Comeback Player of the Year award and lead the Eagles to a 1st place finish in the NFC East before suffering a grueling 21-16 loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the Green bay Packers. The following year the Eagles traded Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals and relied on Vick to be the quarterback of the future. He was signed to a six year $100 million dollar contract and the Eagles signed Vince Young to be his backup. With no competition at the position, Vick’s play dropped significantly.
In 2011 and 2012 the Vick led Philadelphia Eagles went 8-8 and 4-8 respectively. His quarterback rating went from an incredible 100.2 in 2010 to a mediocre 84.9 in 2011 and 78.1 in 2012. His completion percentage went down along with his touchdowns thrown. Time and time again Vick would take an unnecessary hit and get injured or try and do too much with the ball and turn it over. The past three seasons, he’s thrown 35 touchdowns to 27 interceptions and lost 15 fumbles.
With a new coach coming in this year, fans thought they’d see a revitalized Vick, especially with Coach Kelly’s speed oriented offense. To the coaching staff’s credit, that’s exactly what they got. I believe that Vick won that starting spot fair and square and was a better quarterback this year than the past two years. But, once again, as soon as the title of “starting quarterback” was next to his name, he went from being efficient and intelligent with the ball back to his sporadic throwing and injury prone self.
All I’m saying is that not giving Foles the illusion that the starting job is completely his is a good mental aspect of the game that Kelly’s taken advantage of. Coach Kelly clearly understands that a quarterback who’s leading the league in passer rating (125.2), has a pass completion percentage of 63%, has thrown 19 touchdowns to zero interceptions, and holds a 5-1 record as a starter this season is going to be his quarterback going forward; barring a monumental collapse. As long as Foles remains alert and weary that his job might be in jeopardy, he’ll constantly be striving to improve his game. Comfortableness will only give way to complacency, something the Eagles cannot afford to have in a quarterback who could possibly pave the way back to the playoffs.
Next week, the Eagles (7-5) play the Detroit Lions (7-5) in a crucial battle that could give the Birds the NFC East lead as the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) head to Soldier Field to play a tough Chicago Bears team (6-6). My only hope is that Foles will take the starting job with as much composure, poise, and confidence as he has demonstrated in his six starts this season and not let starting get to his head.