Philadelphia Eagles News

Celebrating Teamwork At QB Spot

Nick Foles starts on Sunday against Arizona, if you haven't heard, and that's just fine with Michael Vick, who stood in front of his locker following Tuesday's practice and answered question after question about his status as the team's No. 2 quarterback, his health outlook and his future.

Happy. Happy.

The truth is, this is working with the Eagles and the fact that the team has played three quarterbacks this season and not one of them has raised as much as a single negative word or a complaint and that the Eagles are 6-5 and tied for first place in the NFC East is, well, remarkable.

No quarterback controversy? Wasn't the Who-is-the-starting-quarterback? question the rage in June, July and August? Don't teams historically become unglued when there is an "open" competition at quarterback and then the quarterback who is named the starter gets hurt and the next guy under center plays off-the-wall outstanding football?

Isn't it almost impossible for a team to achieve six wins while playing three quarterbacks in the first 11 games of a season? Just look around the league and tell me who is winning with a backup quarterback? I'll give you Mike Glennon in Tampa Bay, but only after Tampa Bay's season fell apart. Chad Henne has two wins with Jacksonville. Josh McCown has a couple of wins backing up Jay Cutler in Chicago. Kellen Clemens is 2-2 with St. Louis.

But none of them come close to accomplishing what Foles has accomplished -- a 4-1 record as a starter and a big help in another win, a jump-off-the-bench effort in New York against the Giants. 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions and an all-time great performance in the NFL's setup month, November.

A good situation? Heck, yeah. I've been around long enough to see Ron Jaworski go ballistic when head coach Buddy Ryan suggested that rookie Randall Cunningham be a run-around option on third down, and I remember when Cunningham chafed visibly upon the arrival of Jim McMahon and doesn't everyone think back to the dreary days of Rodney Peete and Bobby Hoying and Ty Detmer, when the Eagles had numbers but no real No. 1 quarterback? And just how long ago was it when Donovan McNabb's days in Philadelphia were coming to an end and the Eagles tried to work young prospect Kevin Kolb into the picture without ruining McNabb's place and then, geez, wasn't it just 2010 when Vick stepped in for an injured Kolb and took over the starting quarterback job?

There were plenty of bumps along the way in those seasons, and feelings were hurt and the quarterback play was uneven and the Eagles, in the end, didn't win a whole lot of games.

In this instance, 2013, the circumstances couldn't have been more tilted toward trouble than the ones the Eagles faced way back when Andy Reid's tenure as head coach ended. How would Kelly, who had only four years of experience as a head coach -- and at the college level, mind you, integrate the personnel on hand with his preferred offensive scheme? How would Kelly determine the starting quarterback? How would he win if there were injuries suffered at the position?

Well, the head coach has been steadfast in his focus. He opened the competition, fair and square, and Vick won it with a superlative preseason. Then Vick suffered a hamstring injury in the win at MetLife Stadium, aggravated it at home against New York, and the quarterback position hasn't been the same.

Now healthy, Vick understands the big picture. He knows that Foles is playing outstanding football, so why change the position again? The old football adage that you don't lose your starting job due to injury is one that holds today, but when the backup steps in and sizzles, the right thing to do is recognize the situation.

"Nick is playing outstanding football," said Vick. "He deserves to be the starter."

Vick has been the ultimate team player from the day he arrived in Philadelphia, and he remains so to this day. His job is to get his timing back on the practice field now that his hamstring is healed, and to be ready should Kelly need to call on Vick in the final five games of the regular season, or beyond these games.

Meanwhile, Foles continues in his unflappable way. He and Vick have long been joined in the Mutual Admiration Society, and their friendship is genuine. That's a major reason the Eagles are where they are, surging heading into a vital game against a terrific Arizona Cardinals team. The players haven't allowed the quarterback "controversy" to create sides in the locker room. The quarterbacks haven't permitted healthy competition to taint their partnership at the position. The coach hasn't given the media any juice morsels to chew on over these many months of quarterback conversations.

It's rare that this is happening the way it has happened. We've been talking coach (Kelly) and quarterback (Vick, Foles or Matt Barkley) for months, and the Eagles have stood strong in every corner and have focused on the daily chores required to win football games.

The starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles? It's Nick Foles for this Sunday and beyond, if all goes according to plan. What does that mean for Vick and his future? Who knows? The Eagles will deal with the future when it arrives. Kelly has already shown he knows how to handle the position and everything that goes with it, and the locker room is on board together, and add it all up and the Eagles are doing something that not many NFL teams do: Win with multiple quarterbacks, a new head coach, a new offensive system and a city ravenous for a daily quarterback debate.

"It works because we all want the same thing," says Foles. "We want to win, and that comes from everybody here. Winning is all that matters for this football team."

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