Vick or Foles, Eagles offense keeps moving
Despite obvious differences in the skill sets of his top two quarterbacks, Chip Kelly insists the Philadelphia Eagles run the same offense no matter which player is under center.
''We do the same things offensively with Nick that we did with Mike, and I think that's the beauty of those guys,'' Kelly said. ''There are some things that Nick does different than Mike does. But it's not like we're going to be an I-formation team if Nick's in the game.''
Foles will make his second straight start Sunday when the Eagles (3-3) host the Dallas Cowboys (3-3) in a battle for first place in the NFC East. Vick had been playing well before injuring his hamstring late in the first half against the New York Giants on Oct. 6.
Foles has filled in nicely, leading the Eagles to two wins and sparking a full-blown quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. Kelly hasn't diffused it by refusing to say whether Vick will regain his starting job when he's healthy.
Strong arguments could be made to support either side. Vick has thrown for 1,185 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, and has 307 yards rushing and two more scores. Foles has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 542 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions and has a passer rating of 127.9.
Vick led the Eagles to 11 touchdowns and 10 field goals on 54 drives for an average of 1.96 points per drive. Foles has led them to seven touchdowns and three field goals on 22 drives, an average of 2.64 points per drive.
''Nick moves a little bit better than some people give him credit for and I think Mike operates from the pocket a little bit better than some people give him credit for,'' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. ''They both function equally well in our offense and they both have been efficient. They both can do anything we want them to do for us to be successful on offense.''
But anyone who watches football knows they have different styles, right?
Kelly has everyone in the organization sticking to the same story. Opponents are more inclined to give an honest opinion.
''I would like to see Foles,'' Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. ''Vick is like a rabbit. He's all over the place. Foles is more like a stationary guy in the pocket. Both of them are awesome quarterbacks.''
Vick appears more suited to operate Kelly's zone-read offense because of his superior scrambling ability. When he's on the field, the Eagles seemingly have a more dangerous rushing attack because opponents have to defend against Vick and LeSean McCoy. But, McCoy had 116 yards rushing in last week's win at Tampa Bay.
With Foles, the Eagles have been more efficient in the red zone. Foles is 5 for 9 for 37 yards with three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown inside the opponents' 20. Vick is 5 for 19 for 38 yards and one score. But he had one of his passes dropped in the end zone by James Casey and another dropped by Brent Celek inside the 5.
Some of Vick's critics say he struggles on a short field because he's only 6-foot and has trouble seeing over linemen. Foles is 6-foot-6, so he has no problems in that area.
''The passes that we threw in the red zone, we would have called the exact same passes if Mike was quarterback,'' Shurmur said. ''We expect them to execute and be efficient. You don't call certain plays for a tall quarterback and certain ones for a guy that's not as tall.''
Receiver DeSean Jackson has caught red-zone touchdown passes from Foles in consecutive games. He had only two scoring catches of 15 yards or less from Vick in four-plus seasons together.
But Jackson credits that to playcalling - not the quarterback.
''I always felt like I can be a threat regardless of where the ball is on the field,'' Jackson said. ''I have a coach that believes in me out there and likes to call my number.''
The situation hasn't affected the friendship between Vick and Foles.
''I love Mike,'' Foles said. ''We have a great relationship and we don't worry about it. We know that the most important thing is for the Philadelphia Eagles to win, no matter who is at quarterback.
''We're going to support each other.''
Vick showed up with Foles for an unscheduled tag-team news conference after Thursday's practice instead of each player speaking to reporters individually.
''Regardless of what happens, it's all about rooting for one another,'' Vick said. ''Whatever comes out of it, it's going to be all good for the both of us. I love Nick and that friendship is there, and it won't go anywhere regardless of what happens.''
Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi