Can someone make sense of the quarterback situation in Philadelphia for me?
I’m out of things to think about the goings-on with the Eagles, and it clearly seems futile. We started with an open competition in the preseason – a competition which Michael Vick won. The veteran played like gangbusters through the first five weeks of the season, before a hamstring injury opened the door for Nick Foles.
Foles played well against a troubled (and still winless) Tampa Bay team. But his performance against Dallas on Oct. 20, which ended with a concussion, was so horrendous I don’t think anyone in the tri-state area thought he had a future with the team.
Then, there were the comments from Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, about the need to find a franchise quarterback – whether it be from the team’s existing trio of Vick, Foles or rookie Matt Barkley, or someone else.
"We need someone to step up, whether it's an existing young quarterback or somebody we go out and acquire," Lurie told CSNPhilly.com last week. "We know -- this is no secret -- quarterback is the [ultimate] position and the most important difference-maker."
Well, apparently Foles was listening. My goodness, was he ever. Having returned from his concussion, Foles got the start against Oakland and submitted one of those most impressive quarterback performances of the season – if not of all time. Seriously.
Foles threw more touchdown passes than incompletions against the Raiders, as he torched them on 22-of-28 passing for 406 yards and seven – repeat that, seven – touchdowns. His seventh touchdown pass, which he tossed late in the third quarter, tied an NFL record held by just six other quarterbacks – including Peyton Manning from Week 1 of this season.
So what on Earth does it mean? You can’t sit Foles for Vick after a performance like that – at least not until he proves otherwise. The big day also gives Foles two fantastic performances as opposed to one stinker, his bad day against Dallas.
I’ve maintained all season that Vick’s ability as a runner makes him the most desirable option for Chip Kelly’s offense. But if Foles is capable of that – not to mention, the running game still produced 148 yards – then maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe the Eagles found their franchise quarterback Sunday in Oakland. Or maybe I’ll be pondering what their next move is in a week, when they’ve lost a road game to Green Bay.
I’m not saying they’re good teams, because they aren’t. We’ve seen Washington play eight games and Philadelphia play nine, and their flaws are out there for anyone to see.
Both teams boast bad defenses – Washington at No. 28 and Philadelphia at No. 32 overall, as of this writing. Foles’ theatrics aside, they’ve both been prone to mistakes from the quarterback position this year. Robert Griffin III threw a pick in his fourth consecutive game Sunday afternoon, giving him a lousy touchdown-to-interception ratio of 9:9 this season.
All of that stuff said, the NFC East is finding ways to win games. Consider this stat: in the first month of the season, the four division teams slumped to a pitiful 2-11 record against non-division opponents. In the second month of the season, that record improved to 6-3.
Like I said, it doesn’t mean we’ve suddenly got a batch of playoff contenders on our hands, but these teams are finding ways to win games. Philadelphia destroyed a feisty Oakland team – the Raiders have played tough with Indianapolis and Kansas City, and beaten San Diego.
In the same vein, those same Chargers had a first down on the Washington one-yard line in the dying moments of yesterday’s game. The Redskins held San Diego to a field goal from the one to force overtime, where the Washington offense lifted them to a win.
I don’t think those are games either team would have played as well earlier in this season. And it speaks to my larger point from earlier this year: the division isn’t won in September, but the Cowboys did themselves no favors by dropping so many winnable games.
The lead against Philadelphia is just one game, with Washington and New York not too far behind, all things considered. So, like we’ve been saying – it sure looks like a looming photo finish, if everyone continues on this trajectory.