By Kevin McGuire
Nick Foles has started the week taking reps with the first team offense and on Sunday when the Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys it should be Foles leading the offense once again.
Mike Vick continues to rehab from a hamstring injury suffered two weeks ago against the New York Giants. If he is ready to play again there is a case to be made for having Vick start at quarterback, if you believe a player should not lose a job due to injury. Generally that is a good rule to live by, but in this particular case it may not be the best decision just yet. The Eagles may be best served to continue putting Foles on the field ahead of Vick for a number of reasons.
For starters, the Eagles have played well since Foles has taken the field. The red zone woes shown in the preseason have not come back to haunt Foles yet, although it is fair to point out he has played against two teams still searching for their first wins of the season.
Second, because this year’s Eagles team is a long way from being a contender in the NFC, much of what happens this season will service as evaluation fodder for the upcoming offseason, Chip Kelly’s first full offseason as a head coach of the Eagles. This can be a terrific time for Kelly to evaluate Foles and see what he can or cannot do and help to make the decision on whether or not Foles will be used to lead the offense in 2014. If Foles fails to impress beyond a reasonable doubt, the Eagles should absolutely begin looking to the prospects available in the NFL Draft.
But the object of the season is not to set yourself up for draft picks. A shot at the postseason is still a reality for the Eagles, and a win on Sunday to take first place in the NFC East puts the Eagles just one step closer to an unexpected postseason trip. If the postseason is on the table, the Eagles have to play the players that will give them the best shot to get there. Right now, that means playing with the hot hand. Foles, who has led the Eagles to two straight wins, has the hot hand right now.
The good news continues to be the Eagles have two quarterbacks capable of running the offense. Foles may not be able to do as much in Kelly’s preferred style as Vick may be able to do, but if he should happen to struggle the Eagles should have confidence in sending Vick back on to the field. A situation like this can always lead to some division on the team though, but ultimately if the team finds ways to win football games that vocal split will be silenced.
Foles was not too bad against the Cowboys in 2012, completing 44 of 66 pass attempts for 470 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception in two games against Dallas last season, as a rookie. Of course, the Eagles lost both games. If Foles happens to play well but take a loss, the debate could quickly slant in favor of Vick going in to the next game.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.