On the surface, questioning whether Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback for the Eagles in 2014 might seem silly.
The 24-year-old just put together a season in which he led the league in yards-per-attempt and became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 25+ touchdowns and three or fewer interceptions. Foles’ 119.2 passer rating was the third-highest of any QB all-time for a single season.
But still, considering he is not someone Chip Kelly hand-picked, the question was worth asking.
As you build the roster this offseason, are you planning to have Foles as the starting quarterback going forward?
“Yeah,” Kelly said.
So he’s the guy?
As far as votes of confidence go, this was probably the biggest one Kelly has given Foles in terms of labeling him the quarterback of the future.
Asked for Foles’ strengths, Kelly said: “I think he’s a great decision-maker. I think he’s extremely accurate where he puts the ball. I think he’s very young, and I think people still sometimes forget about that. He didn’t become our starter until after Mike [Vick] went down in the Giants game. But in the short body of work he did, I think he did an outstanding job.
“Our evaluations are based on demonstrated abilities, and he demonstrated during the time that he was in there that he deserved to be the starting quarterback.”
The Eagles are in a good spot with Foles. Because of the terms of the CBA, Foles is not allowed to re-negotiate his contract until after his third season (2014). He’s due to make $615,000 next year.
The Eagles can see what he does for an encore and then make a decision about whether to commit big dollars to him for 2015 and beyond.
While Kelly backed Foles as the guy going forward, he did not dismiss the idea of competition. Michael Vick is set to become a free agent, and Kelly said he’s excited about working with Matt Barkley this offseason. The Eagles could look to add a body at the quarterback position in the draft or free agency.
“There’s always competition, and I think you can ask Nick that too,” Kelly said. “I don’t think Nick’s gonna think that ‘I can go out and throw 12 interceptions in a row,’ which he’ll never do. But in that, ‘I’m your guy.’ I think everybody feeds off that and they understand that. And then if you also have a guy that’s not competing to be the starter with Nick, then what if Nick gets hurt and all of a sudden the other guy goes, ‘Oh my God, I’m not ready to play because I thought Nick was gonna be the guy.’ It’s a cliche, but you are a chinstrap away from playing in this league, and when your opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of that.
“But one of the things we do here is we compete and we have a bunch of guys that compete. Obviously you’ve gotta have one guy. Right now Nick’s that one guy. But I don’t think Nick’s ever been afraid of competition. He showed that to me the first time we had that. So we’re always gonna continue to upgrade at every position. And I think all of our players know that. And I think the guys that are true competitors really embrace that.”
Kelly’s bottom line has always been consistent: The team is going to acquire as many talented pieces as possible and let them compete.
The best guys will play, and based on how he performed in 2013, that will be Foles.