32 Questions in 32 Days: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick
 Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick
Jul 26 2013 Philadelphia PA USA Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick 7 leaves the field at the end of practice during training camp at the Eagles NovaCare Complex Mandatory Credit Howard Smith USA TODAY Sports

As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks will be bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.

Today’s feature team and question?

The Philadelphia Eagles – Will Michael Vick or Nick Foles start at quarterback?

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of several teams that have a quarterback controversy on their hands. While the experienced Michael Vick may be the frontrunner, second-year quarterback Nick Foles is trying to stake a legitimate claim to the job.

For rookie head coach Chip Kelly, it’s not bad problem to have.

Vick, for what it’s worth, will get the start in the Eagles’ first preseason game on Friday. However, Kelly says that’s only because it’s his turn to go first in the rotation. Foles is also expected to get snaps with the starters, so it’s hard to determine if anyone has a true leg up at this point. There are legitimate reasons to pick either quarterback.

Vick brings experience and an ability to scramble – even at 33 and not the runner he once was. With 332 yards last year on 5.4 yards a carry in a little more than half a season, it’s clear that Vick will garner a lot of respect from opposing defenses. The issue with the quarterback in 2012 was turnovers as his weak TD/INT ratio of 12/10 proves. To be fair, six of his picks came in the first two weeks of the season, but Vick still threw four of them over his last five games. His play last year was marred by inconsistencies throwing the ball.

Also, don’t forget that Philadelphia has a lot invested in him. Long-term investments don’t automatically mean a coach will go with an inferior player, Philadelphia’s decision to cut ties with former backup Kevin Kolb in place of Vick is surely in the back of the minds of some front office personnel there. The move happened well before Kelly came onto the scene and ultimately, he’ll make the call. The fact remains that the Eagles have a lot invested in Vick.

Foles, on the other hand, has youth on his side. The Eagles are in a rebuilding stage and a strong argument could be made for playing the guy that has a chance to be around in ten years. More than that, Foles proved he could play well when given the chance. Like Vick, he threw interceptions (five of them against six touchdowns, to be exact) – but what rookie quarterback doesn’t? Foles averaged 243 passing yards a game to Vick’s 236 and also bested the veteran in completion percentage and quarterback rating by a slim margin. The problem with Foles, however, is that in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense, his inability to scramble becomes somewhat of a liability.

One thing the two have in common? Neither could lift the Eagles to much success in terms of actual wins and losses. Vick went 3-7 as a starter while Foles was even worse, going only 1-5. That really has to make the decision that much harder. Often, wins and losses can be the deciding factor in picking a quarterback when the decision is so close. No such luck here, though, as neither won many games.

So ultimately, who will the Eagles start? Kelly makes it sound like a coin toss at this point, but the guess here is that we’ll see Vick under center barring a disastrous preseason. He’s the veteran, won more games, and even excelled at times. Still, if he struggles early in the regular season, look for a quick hook from the coach.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');