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Evaluating the Eagles: Part 1, Quarterbacks

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Is Nick Foles the future franchise quarterback of the Eagles? Can Matt Barkley be a reliable back-up? Is Michael Vick's time in Philadelphia over? Let's have a look.

This is part 1 of an 11 part series focusing specifically on the quarterbacks on the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles and how the team can improve heading into the 2014 season. Each part will focus on a specific positional group with 11 in all (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, ILB, OLB, CB, S and ST [K, P, KR and PR]). Now let's talk Eagles' quarterbacks.

2013 Eagles Quarterbacks: Nick Foles, Michael Vick and Matt Barkley

How'd they do?

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Nick Foles: 14 games played, 11 games started. 3,086 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 119.3 passer rating and a 66.8 completion percentage.

58 rushing attempts for 224 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and 4 fumbles (2 lost). (including playoffs)

Heading into the 2013 season, everyone believed the QB job was wide open and it was Michael Vick's job to lose. Nobody thought Nick Foles or Matt Barkley could play in Chip Kelly's uptempo offense. Vick ultimately outplayed Foles and Barkley in the preseason to earn the job. But to no one's surprise, Vick got hurt and Foles got his chance to shine...and he sure did.

Foles stepped in for Vick against the Giants in week 5 and led the Eagles to an important division win on the road. The following week, in Tampa Bay, Foles got his first start of the season and had another great game. He finished with four total touchdowns in a win against the Buccaneers. Everyone was jumping on the Foles' bandwagon, which was quickly running out of seats.

But it all came crashing down to earth when the Eagles returned home to face their division rival Dallas Cowboys. Foles looked absolutely awful throughout the game. He was holding onto the ball way too long, missing wide open receivers and had people wondering where the quarterback from the previous two weeks went. Foles was eventually knocked out of the game with a concussion causing him to miss the following week's game as well.

Everyone was quick to say that Foles was exposed against Dallas, but he wanted to prove everyone wrong...and he did just that in his very next start. He returned from the concussion on the road against the Oakland Raiders in week 9. Foles went off! Throwing for 406 yards and a record tying 7 touchdowns.

Foles was back and it remained that way for the rest of the season. He was officially named the starter before the week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs, winning the NFC East and finishing the season with one of the the best passing touchdown to interception ratios ever as well as the best passer rating in the league.

The Eagles ultimately lost to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs but they wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for Foles in the first place. He led the Eagles to an 8-3 record as a starter and everyone is convinced that he has all the tools to be the next franchise quarterback in Philadelphia. After a season like that, it's tough to argue against that belief.

Overall Grade: A+. Foles burst on to the scene in 2013 and ultimately led an Eagles' team that many thought would be rebuilding, into the playoffs as well as capturing a division title.

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Michael Vick: 7 games played, 6 games started. 1,215 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 86.5 passer rating and a 54.6 completion percentage.

36 rushing attempts for 306 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns and 4 fumbles (2 lost).

This was supposed to be Michael VIck's year to shine and it was...for preseason and the first two games of the regular season. Vick was supposed to flourish in Chip Kelly's offense and return to pro bowl form. But as usual, injuries plagued Vick throughout the season after an electric start.

Under the bright lights of Monday night football for the first game of the season against the Washington Redskins, Vick looked like everything he was cracked up to be. He finished with 3 total touchdowns and led the Eagles to a great opening win.

Vick followed it up with another great showing against the San Diego Chargers in Philadelphia's home opener but the Eagles ultimately lost that game.

Then the old Vick returned. On Thursday night football against the Kansas City Chiefs, Vick looked like a deer in headlights. He was careless with the ball and couldn't get much going against that Chiefs' pass rush. Vick threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble as well.

Against Denver the following week, Philadelphia just couldn't keep up with that Bronco's offense and Vick looked pedestrian, at best.

The following week against the New York Giants was the beginning of the end for Michael Vick in Philadelphia. He was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury and that opened the door for Nick Foles and closed the door for Vick as a starter in an Eagles' uniform.

Once the season ended, Vick stated that he does not want to be a back-up anymore which means his time in Philadelphia is up. Foles has the starting job locked up and Vick is set to be a free agent. He'll likely find a starting job elsewhere in the league with the Jets, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Raiders as likely possibilities.

Overall Grade: D. Vick got off to a promising start but went sadly back to his old ways of being way too turnover and injury prone.

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Matt Barkley: 3 games played, 0 games started. 300 passing yards, 0 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 44.6 passer rating and a 61.2 completion percentage.

2 rushing attempts for -2 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns and 3 fumbles (3 lost).

When the Eagles traded up in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, almost everyone was shocked. Here it was, this thought that Chip Kelly absolutely needed a quarterback that could run in his uptempo system. But really, Kelly was looking for intelligent quarterbacks that could make quick and correct reads while taking care of the ball.

But anyone that looks strictly at Barkley's numbers from last season will think he's careless with the ball. Although the truth is, he really isn't. When evaluating a back-up quarterback's numbers, you really have to take into consideration the position that they were put in.

Both games that Barkley was forced to play significant time in were tough spots to be thrown into. Barkley hardly got any practice reps with starters for either game and therefore he was thrown into the fire without really much time or reps to help him prepare.

In both games, against the Cowboys and Giants, Barkley was moving the ball pretty well but he often went for the big play too much instead of taking the safe throws that were there. Now that could be because he was out to prove something or just inexperience with the other starters.

Either way, I believe Barkley has quite a lot of potential and could very well be developed into a competent back-up quarterback in Philadelphia.

Overall Grade: C-. Although he didn't manage to score a single touchdown, Barkley proved he could move the ball but also needs to be more careful with it and work within the system.

What's next?

With 2014 free agency quickly approaching, it looks like Michael Vick will be headed elsewhere in the offseason. He doesn't want to be a back-up anymore and thus I think his time is over in Philadelphia. There's no denying that barring injury, Nick Foles is the starter next season but I do believe competition should be brought in for the back-up job.

Through either free agency or the draft, another quarterback should be picked up to challenge Matt Barkley in a battle for the second string spot. Here's a couple of players the Eagles should consider bringing in:

Free Agency: There aren't many veteran quarterbacks on the free agent market this off-season but a couple do stand out as possible targets for the Eagles.

Josh McCown did a great job stepping in for an injured Jay Cutler last season in Chicago and put up some crazy numbers. Although he's up there in age, turning 35 before next season, he showed he has a lot in the tank and could be a nice stop-gap option to back-up Foles as Barkley matures and grows in the system.

Tarvaris Jackson is another intriguing name on the market. Another veteran quarterback with quite a few starts under his belt. But unlike McCown, he didn't play much last year while sitting behind Russell Wilson in Seattle. Jackson does add a scrambling ability that neither Foles or Barkley offer, which could intrigue Chip Kelly and the front office.

2014 NFL Draft:

Although I believe the Eagles will prefer to add a veteran with NFL game experience to battle for the back-up job, there's a possibility they could look in the later rounds of the draft for another young quarterback.

David Fales from San Jose State reminds me a bit of a smaller version of Nick Foles. He can make almost every throw and is a quick decision maker with great feet in the pocket. He also adds an athletic dynamic that the Eagles lack with Foles and Barkley because he can make plays with his feet either scrambling for some yards or moving outside of the pocket and throwing on the run.

Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech might be one of my favorite prospects in the draft. Sure, he may not be the greatest quarterback...or even a good one, but he's got the size and speed that you just can't teach. Thomas could cause problems with his athletic ability in Chip Kelly's system but would need to drastically improve his accuracy and inconsistent footwork to have a real shot at the back-up job. I could see Thomas being Kelly's personal project and if he ends up failing at quarterback, they could always shift him to tight end.

That's all for Evaluating the Eagles: Part 1, Quarterbacks. Be sure to check out the rest of the series in the following days leading up to free agency!

If you'd like, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @Anthony_DiBona. Thanks for reading!

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