Pat Shurmur is keenly aware of the news surrounding Tony Romo's injury status and that Kyle Orton might be the starting quarterback under center for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. However, after seeing the way Nick Foles prepared when he was behind Michael Vick, Shurmur knows better than to discount the backup.
"Keep in mind that backups prepare each week like they're going to play, and it happens all the time," Shurmur said. "There are more than a handful of teams that have had to play backups either to finish a game and then start the next one or a string of games. I'm impressed by the way the backups in this league prepare themselves, so I'm sure whoever they play will be ready to go."
If anyone should understand what a backup quarterback is capable of, it's the Philadelphia Eagles. Foles is 7-2 as a starter after taking over for an injured Michael Vick, as his efficient and sparkling play has galvanized the Eagles, bringing them to the precipice of their first NFC East title and playoff appearance since 2010.
"I think you judge a quarterback based on whether he can lead to you victories or not," Shurmur said "You want a guy that is very efficient, but you want a guy also that does the things necessary to help you win. That's partly why I think Nick's done a good job for us. He's a very good decision maker. The ball means something to him, so he doesn't put the ball in harm's way very often. We all understand how turnovers affect the game. He's a very good decision maker and for the most part he's a very accurate thrower. As time goes on, he's understanding more and more and to greater detail what we're trying to do. So all those things are why the quarterback can help you or contribute to victories."
Foles has led the Eagles to seven victories, but the reality is the eighth will go a long way in how he is judged in the eyes of both the media and fans. That eighth win would not only propel the Eagles into the playoffs in Chip Kelly's first year as head coach, but also eradicate the memory of his worst performance to date as a pro, when the Cowboys battered, bruised and eventually concussed him en route to a 17-3 shellacking at Lincoln Financial Field on October 20.
"We dropped balls, we weren't on the same page at times with who to block," Shurmur explained about the first Dallas game, refusing to lay all the blame at the feet of his quarterback. "We threw the ball inaccurately at times. We didn't do a good job coaching and give them the best opportunity to succeed as players. We just weren't very good. I don't want to take anything away from Dallas. They did a lot of good things to defend us. We threw interceptions. So we did not play well. We can't do that this Sunday."