A New Day Dawned At QB For The Eagles

This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

Change occurs so rapidly within an NFL organization that perhaps, from this perspective anyway, there is a sense of "let's move on and see what happens." Maybe I don't always consider the seismic differences that sometimes occur in the course of a transition period - i.e. a new head coach, a turnover in the roster and a change in philosophy and scheme.

For a moment here, though, I want to talk about the Eagles quarterback position. It's one that has been a series of fascinations from the days of 1985 when I first covered the Eagles as a college kid (Temple University) for the Daily Local News in West Chester. That April, the Eagles used a second-round draft pick to select Randall Cunningham from UNLV, setting in motion a wild turn of events at the position.

Once Cunningham wrestled the starting job from Ron Jaworski, the Eagles' quarterback position has largely been defined, accurately or not by those on the outside of the organization, as running quarterbacks. From Cunningham to Donovan McNabb (apologies to Rodney Peete, Ty Detmer , Bobby Hoying and Doug Pederson, who manned the position from 1996 through 1998) and then to Michael Vick (with the Kevin Kolb experiment brief), the Eagles offense revolved around quarterbacks who had great physical skills and were total packages at the position. McNabb bristled at the suggestion that he was a "running quarterback," and for good reason: It is not a positive connotation. A quarterback who also has the ability to run is a compliment. A quarterback called a "running quarterback" suggests he is a run-first player who lacks in set-up skills as a passer and a dissector of defenses from the pocket.

In any event, the Eagles have now in Nick Foles the very definition of a "traditional" quarterback. He isn't known for his scrambling. He doesn't run away from defenses. He just plays the quarterback position, and he plays it very, very well.

Entering his third NFL season, Foles has accomplished more in two seasons than any quarterback in franchise history. He rose above the struggles in the 2012 season and then stepped in when he got his chance in 2013 and performed to an historic level: Foles led the league with a 119.2 quarterback rating (third best in NFL history) and his touchdown (27) to interception (2) ratio was the best single-season performance in the history of the league and then for good measure Foles went to Hawaii and was named the co-Most Valuable Player in the Pro Bowl.

Foles, an athlete who could run circles around you and me and who could dunk up and down the basketball court on us, has by NFL standards modest foot speed. He isn't winning games by dodging defenders in the open field and leaping over the goal line into the end zone. He isn't going to make highlights with his legs.

Instead, Foles played the position in 2013 at a level as high as any quarterback in the league with his arm, with his mind and with nimble feet to buy time In the pocket. He approaches 2014 with a level of modesty that we just haven't seen at the position in Philadelphia for decades. Cunningham was a gold-shoe-laced lover of the spotlight. McNabb was a natural draw for the media, and we see where he is in his post-NFL career. Vick is a lightning rod for the media and the fans as he continues his career with the New York Jets.

Foles isn't into the spotlight. He's into his Faith, his family and his football. He is the epitome of a hard-working, earnest young man who works hard on every phase of his game to improve. What he did last season was remarkable as Foles helped lead the Eagles to the NFC East title and a return to the playoffs in head coach Chip Kelly's first year in Philadelphia.

What does Foles do for an encore? He goes about his business without fanfare, without controversy and minus any sense of inflated ego. The season ahead provides a series of great challenges for Foles and for the Eagles.

"I love being a Philadelphia Eagle. I have great teammates and the coaches have created an environment where it's a fun place to play. It's exciting," said Foles. "We're excited to go and we're optimistic about what we can accomplish. It's going to take a lot of hard work and we know that.

"To me, it's all about the team and about winning. That's really my only focus."

Yeah, this is a new age for the Eagles at the quarterback position. Foles may or may not be here for another 999 years, but he's got the job locked down for now and the Eagles feel really, really, really glad to have him. So should you.

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