The Philadelphia Eagles could have worse problems after their 14-9 preseason victory Thursday night over the Carolina Panthers.
Two capable, often electrifying quarterbacks continued to play extremely well, stay healthy and look significantly better than they did last season.
Problems? The quarterback-starved Jaguars, Jets and Raiders can only wish they had problems like Eagles coach Chip Kelly faces in deciding between Michael Vick and Nick Foles as his starter.
In Foles’s case, the second-year player looks quicker and more agile than he was in 2012 — running the ball two times for 13 yards and a score Thursday.
Vick, meanwhile, appears considerably more patient and confident in the pocket, even admitting Thursday night that he lost a bit of his swagger toward the end of last season.
Thanks to a supportive Kelly, the fearless confidence Vick had always been known for is back.
“When things don’t go well and everybody’s pointing the finger at you, sometimes it can hurt your confidence,” Vick said. “I read everything that was said. I lived it. But when I first sat down with coach Kelly — his main concern was getting me in tip-top shape. He wanted to get me to a place where I was believing in myself again.”
Vick has completed all but two of his pass attempts this preseason, with one of those failed tosses being a Hail Mary at the end of Thursday’s first half. Foles, meanwhile, has led the Eagles on two incredibly impressive no-huddle touchdown drives in each of his two games.
Michael Vick is back and Nick Foles is emerging. They’re getting along great and the competition is making both players work harder.
But make no mistake about it — at some point, Foles vs. Vick is going to become a situation, unless a decision is made. Again, it’s not a terrible situation, but it’s a situation nonetheless. Teams do not want situations.
With every day that passes and a starter not named (Kelly did not reveal the team’s preseason Week 3 starter vs. Jacksonville following Thursdays game), questions will continue to mount both inside and outside the locker room.
When Week 3 of the preseason turns to Week 4, and Week 4 turns to a few days before the start of the regular season, all the niceties could go out the window and that same friendly competition that’s driven both men to work harder could morph into a war that divides them further apart.
We’ve seen it happen before in NFL locker rooms. But Jason Kelce, the team’s starting center, insists that simply won’t be the case in Philadelphia.
“At this point, I really don’t think it makes a difference who starts, the offense is going to be successful regardless,” said Kelce. “We have one more game for the starters to figure this thing out. So, it will be interesting to see how this thing shakes out.”
Todd Herremans, the team’s longtime right guard, said not knowing the QB1 hasn’t impacted the rest of the team at all.
“I mean, we know that we have two starting-caliber quarterbacks,” he said. "We’ve rallied around both of them. Whoever gets the nod, gets the nod. We’re all so concerned with learning the offense, that we don’t really have time to worry about who the quarterback is.”
Remember, Chip Kelly’s not like every other NFL coach. You can argue he’s as unique a head coach as this league’s ever seen. To assume he’ll decide the team’s starting quarterback after Week 3’s game with Jacksonville because that’s just how it’s always been done would be foolish.
There’s no blueprint, here. Kelly’s the same guy who blasts music at practices, has installed heart monitors on his players, and has GPS systems in the locker room.
There’s no coaching tree he’s descended from. He’s his own man. And he may handle this one in a way we’ve just never seen before.
“I mean, we’re going to make a decision,” Kelly said after Thursday’s game.
“I think they’re doing a great job of making it difficult, because they’re both playing at a high level right now. So I look at that as a positive. We’ve got two guys that can play football in this league. But we’re going to have to make a decision. We’re not going to sit there and rotate them on every play. So we’ll see.”
Yes, we will. But the question is when? To that, Kelly had an even better answer — “You can put your pens down if you think we’re naming a starting quarterback now in this room.”
If this is a two-horse race, Vick, the incumbent with the experience, is likely in the lead right now. But it’s by a nose, if that. Foles, minus two regrettable turnovers, has played magnificently this preseason. The drives following each of his turnovers resulted in touchdown scores.
Vick, however, has been flawless.
Either way, based on two preseason efforts, the Eagles can’t go wrong.