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QB Talk: Foles Under Center

Posted Dec 3, 2012

His time is now, and as we note the official move into the Nick Foles Era, a franchise pauses to mark the occasion. From Donovan McNabb to Kevin Kolb to Michael Vick and now to Foles and the unknown future ...

All eyes are on Nick Foles, the rookie quarterback who has handled everything thrown at him in his young career with class, poise and maturity. He was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the 2012 season and so the clock starts on his time here.

Let's hope it runs for many, many years.

The Eagles are using the rest of the season as an opportunity to see as much as they can of Foles, a third-round draft pick in April. He has completed 61 percent of his passes in four games and has made significant improvement in each of his three starts.

At 6 feet 6, and with good athletic ability, a good football mind and an above-average NFL arm, Foles has a lot to work with. The NFL analysts who have studied Foles like what they've seen.

"Nick has a lot  to work with. I like the way he is working the pocket and delivering the football," said ESPN's Ron Jaworski. "He's got many things to work on, as all young quarterbacks do, but you can see that he's getting better and better. He's a big kid with vision and awareness and that arm is certainly strong enough to make every throw.

"He has to improve footwork, his mechanics and he just needs to play."

We're in the very early stages of evaluating Foles, so the opinions are going to change as the sample size increases. Foles has made some wonderful throws, has pushed the ball down the field and has audibled from one throw to another and put points on the board, as he did on Sunday night in Dallas with his touchdown pass to Riley Cooper.

He's also thrown interceptions and has forced passes where defenders have been in position to get their hands on the football.

"He sees the field very well. The height really helps him. He gets rocked on the first play of the game in Dallas (by DeMarcus Ware) and it doesn't faze him. I like a lot of what I see," said NFL Network analyst and Eagles Television's Brian Baldinger. "Now, there are some flaws that need to be improved. Nick is a long strider and his motion is long. When he's in a tight pocket, against better defenses and with everything flying at him, how will that impact his throws?

"But, look, there are good things going on here. Nick gets the ball out of his hands quickly and his ability to escape the rush is really good. His understanding of the game is good. His ball location is good. Is he a guy who can win a Super Bowl? He has to get those flaws in his game smoothed out first."

Baldinger mentioned former NFL quarterback Kerry Collins as a long-striding passer who tightened up his mechanics and thrived. Baldinger also points to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan who has made the necessary improvements to tighten up his throwing motion.

"Look, Nick is 6-6, so he's going to have a longer stride than most guys. It's just something he needs to improve. I know he's going to work on it. Nick is really good at the timing of his routes and he sees things really, really well. He also needs to see the throw, which means you follow your hand all the way to the throw. Sometimes he plays kind of street ball, and he has to take that out his game."

What happens beyond the season is anybody's guess. There are a lot of unknowns with the 3-9 Eagles, starting from the top on down. What's important right now is that every member of the coaching staff and every player on the roster approach each day with professionalism and the understanding that life in the NFL turns upside down very quickly.

How the Eagles treat the quarterback position heading into 2013 is subject to a lot of factors. They have Foles here. They have Michael Vick and his situation to consider. Vick is slated to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Foles when Vick is cleared to play after he is fully recovered from his concussion.

Beyond that, what do we know?

"If the Eagles think they're going to use a high draft pick on a quarterback, I don't know about that," said Baldinger. 'I saw Geno Smith (West Virginia) this past weekend. He may be the first quarterback off the board in April's draft. Would I take Geno Smith over Nick Foles right now? I don't know that I would. I like Nick that much."

The draft talk is going to dominate the months beyond the December 30 finale at the Giants. For now, each day is about Foles improving everything about his game on and off the field. The Nick Foles Era is now. The quarterback torch has been passed into the hands of a rookie who seems to have the gift to handle it the right way, for however long he holds the responsibility and brings home wins for the Eagles.

 

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