PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles is the quarterback of the present for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Coach Andy Reid said Foles will remain the starter for the rest of the season, even when Michael Vick returns from a concussion. The Eagles (3-9) have lost eight straight games, a strong factor in Reid’s decision.
“No. 1, I just think he’s playing well enough to where I think he can win football games for us,” Reid said Monday. “And No. 2, I think where we sit at this position in the season, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
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Reid made the announcement a day after Foles had his best performance in a 38-33 loss at Dallas on Sunday night. Foles, a third-round pick from Arizona, has started the last three games since Vick was injured on Nov. 11.
Foles was 22 of 34 for 251 yards and one touchdown against the Cowboys. He has thrown for 793 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions and has a passer rating of 73.3.
“You see the footwork is better when he’s throwing the football,” Reid said. “It’s allowing us to add more into his repertoire of throws, and he’s been working very hard on that.”
Vick has struggled this season, committing 14 turnovers in nine games. He has 2,165 yards passing, 11 TDs and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 79.2.
“With Michael, we need to make sure he gets healthy,” Reid said. “This thing has carried on a while here now and I want to make sure he is good to go.”
Vick remains in stage four of five in his recovery and has yet to pass the final test that would allow him to be cleared to practice. The team has a five-phase recovery protocol, which is separate from the NFL-mandated concussion program.
Reid didn’t even commit to having Vick back up Foles. Trent Edwards currently is the No. 2 quarterback.
“I haven’t got that far, but most likely, he’ll be the second guy,” Reid said. “We’ll see how that goes. The No. 1 thing I want him to do is get healthy. That’s what I want. This obviously has taken a bit and he’s working his tail off to try to get it right and I just want him to get that right so he can have a nice, long career here.”
Frustrated fans have been calling for Foles to replace Vick since he had an impressive preseason playing against backups and guys who didn’t make NFL rosters. His first two games didn’t suggest he could be the team’s long-term answer, but Foles played well against the Cowboys.
The Eagles are facing a critical offseason that could shape the organization for years to come. First, owner Jeffrey Lurie must decide whether to bring Reid back for a 15th season.
Whoever coaches the team, however, has to start with finding a franchise QB. If Foles stays healthy the rest of the way, he’ll have seven starts under his belt. That’s a decent sample for an evaluation, though not a definite indication of his potential.
The last time the Eagles had such debate over their quarterback of the future was in 1997. Bobby Hoying, a third-round pick like Foles, had a strong start. He threw for 835 yards, six TDs, one interception and had a 60.4 completion percentage and 98.0 passer rating while going 2-0-1 in his first three starts.
It was all downhill from there.
Hoying went 1-9 in his next 10 starts and lasted just two more seasons, throwing just five passes, after leaving Philadelphia following the 1998 season. Donovan McNabb was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by Reid in his first year here in 1999. McNabb was the solution for a decade, leading the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl loss.
Kevin Kolb was supposed to be McNabb’s successor, but Vick stole the show with his sensational play in 2010.
Now, though, Vick appears on his way out.
Vick had a remarkable season two years ago, leading the Eagles to an NFC East title, earning a spot as the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl and winning the AP Comeback Player of the Year award.
Vick then was rewarded with a $100 million contract in August 2011. Only $35.5 million of that deal is guaranteed money, and Vick is due to make $15.5 million in 2013. He certainly won’t get that as a backup.
NOTES: Reid fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn and replaced him with Tommy Brasher, who served in that role with the Eagles in 1985 and from 1999-2005. … RB LeSean McCoy is in stage three of his concussion rehab. McCoy has missed two straight games. … Reid hinted that there could be changes in the secondary. The Eagles have allowed 16 TD passes and have no interceptions in the last six games.