Entering the 2013 season, it wasn't clear who would start at quarterback beyond Chip Kelly's first season. Michael Vick was on a one year contract. Nick Foles was an unproven second year player who had showed some potential. Matt Barkley was a rookie that had some success in college but was selected in the 4th round on the 2013 NFL Draft. Now that the season is over, the 2014 quarterback picture is a lot more clear.
Nick Foles will be the Eagles starting quarterback in 2014.
Q: As you build the roster this off‑season, are you planning to have Foles as the starting quarterback?
Q: So he's the guy?
Not exactly ground-breaking news here. Nick Foles' 2013 success is apparent when you look at the numbers: 8-2 record as a starter with 2891 yards on 203/317 (64%) passing for 27 TD, 2 INT, and a league-best 119.2 QB rating. Despite the impressive and encouraging numbers, Foles isn't above crticism. He's still a young player at a critical position who needs to show further development moving forward. "I have to continue to get better. I'm going to keep working on footwork, mechanics, reading defenses," Foles admitted.
Kelly heavily emphasizes the importance of competition, especially at the quarterback position. Such was obvious when Kelly brought back Michael Vick to compete for the Eagles starting job in 2013. Kelly's desire for competition is less of an indictment of Foles than it is sticking to his own tried-and-true mantra.
There's always competition, and I think you can ask Nick that, too. I don't think Nick is going to think that I can go out and throw 12 interceptions in a row, which he'll never do, but that I'm your guy. I think everybody kind of feeds off of 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 then all of a sudden the other guy goes, ‘Oh, my God, I'm not ready to play because I thought Nick was going to be the guy.’ It's a cliché, but you are a chin strap away from playing in this league and when your opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of that. One of the things we do here is we compete and we have a bunch of guys that compete. Obviously you've got to have one guy. Right now, Nick is that one guy, but I don't think Nick has ever been afraid of competition. He showed me that the first time we had that. We're always going to try to 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.
Who will Foles compete against? It won't be Michael Vick, who's likely to leave the team in free agency. Outside of Vick, the free agent market for QBs looks barren. A draft pick could be used to acquire a signal caller, but it remains to be seen if the Eagles will find a reliable option via that method. The most obvious answer is an internal option. Matt Barkley, the team's third string rookie in 2014, will provide competition for Foles. Kelly said he's looking forward to having a full off-season to work with Barkley.
I'm excited to get a full offseason with Matt in here to really get a chance to work with him because I think he's got a skill set that's exciting when you see him, how the ball comes out of his hands, the decisions that he makes, and that's part of this whole deal.
There's no question the Eagles quarterback situation looks a lot at this point better than originally expected. Now it's up to Foles (and Barkley) to use a full off-season with Kelly to improve in time for the 2014 campaign.
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