I know it was only the Philadelphia Eagles first preseason game. I know nobody should take what happened in just one preseason game and think what the future may hold — especially when a team has a quarterback as electrifying as Michael Vick. But after seeing what rookie QB Nick Foles did on Thursday night against an extremely tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense, it’s hard not to let the mind wonder.
Throughout the offseason and in to training camp I believed the battle for the backup QB position was not a battle at all. There was every reason to believe that third year man out of Northwestern, Mike Kafka, would be fully prepared to keep that job. Head coach Andy Reid stated that the job was Kafka’s to lose. Well, if Foles continues to play the way he did in the preseason opener it appears Kafka will indeed lose his job.
Foles entered the game on Thursday as an unknown to many Eagles fans, and what he did was open the eyes of everyone who bleeds midnight green. In a short period of time, with backup players to distribute the ball to, Foles completed six out of 10 pass attempts, recorded 144 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He showcased extreme poise, pocket awareness, great touch on the ball and a cannon arm.
Kafka completed five of nine pass attempts, failed to put points on the board but did end up throwing the ball to the Steelers defense for an interception.
After the game coach Reid was asked about the (non) battle for the backup QB job. This time Reid re-assessed his prior answer to say that there is indeed a possibility Kafka might not be their guy after all.
“Everything’s open,” Reid stated in his post-game report. “I keep it wide open at all positions. Whoever is playing the best is going to play”.
However, probably the biggest factor of them all, if there is one thing that Reid has always coveted from his quarterbacks it’s a true pocket passer. He tried turning Donovan McNabb from a scrambling QB who was able to make big plays happen using his legs in to a QB who went through his checkdowns before running — it wasn’t very successful even as good as McNabb was. Reid is also trying the same thing with Michael Vick — look first, run second. Foles isn’t a scrambler from what I have seen of him so far. Typically guys his size aren’t athletically gifted in the running department. So already Reid has what he’s been looking for in a QB since becoming the Eagles head coach 14 seasons ago.
Now lets look at Vick’s contract and age and combine those two things in with my theory
Vick signed a six-year, $100 million contract last August, $35.5 million guaranteed. This deal means that Vick is eating up a huge chunk of the Eagles salary cap over the next five seasons. Vick (32) is also on the plus side of 30 and unless he’s some sort of super-human he will eventually begin to slow down. Vick also only has one season where he’s played all 16 games. I am not trying to force Vick out of the Eagles organization by any means, simply stating the facts. But unless the Eagles organization has the capability to clone then it’s only logical to think that his career will eventually come to an end.
At 6’5″, 243 pounds, Foles has the luxury of seeing a clear field over the Eagles offensive line and getting the ball to the open receiver. He has the weight to be able to take a hit. And in time he could very well prove to be the next play caller for the Birds. After all, the road to becoming a starter is by proving yourself as a valuable backup — and Foles is starting off in the right direction. Things don’t always pan out the way they are planned in the NFL, but right now, I can see him as the No. 2 guy in 2012.
For the time being all we can truly say is that Foles has a lot more upside than originally anticipated. There is still three preseason games left in which anything can happen, followed by a long regular season and hopefully a postseason on the road to a Super Bowl. But after one little preseason game I can say without any question that Foles left a great impression in my eyes — and I can’t wait until the next game!