No future for Foles in Philly
On the day of his greatest triumph as an Eagle, Nick Foles came face to face with the truth about his future in Philadelphia. He has none. He will never be the starting quarterback of new coach Chip Kelly.
Oh, Foles will probably start Sunday in Tampa, and he might even steal the job from the aging hands of Mike Vick for a few games, but he will never permanently oversee Kelly's high-energy offense. An exhilarating 36-21 win over the Giants has finally clarified this important question.
It's not what Kelly said after Foles had become the most accurate career passer in Eagles history with a 16-for-25 effort; it's what the coach didn't say. Foles took an offense that sputtered through most of the first half, under Vick, and rallied them to a season-saving victory. His management of the clock at the end of the first half was masterful. His clinching throw in the end zone to Brent Celek was spectacular.
Basically, Kelly shrugged at all of that — during his news conference after Sunday's win and again on my WIP radio show Monday morning. Avoiding a quarterback controversy at all costs, including an obvious snub of Foles, Kelly said Vick will be the starter as soon as the oft-injured quarterback's hamstring heals. No question. No debate.
To grasp the significance of this decision, you must consider Vick's recent production in Kelly's offense. Not only had the Eagles lost their last three games with Vick under center, but the quarterback had completed three of his last 19 passes in the red zone. Three of 19. Let that sink in for a second. Vick's utter failure inside the 20-yard line in no way jeopardized his status as Kelly's quarterback.
Why didn't it? Because Vick gives Kelly what he most wants in a quarterback, mobility. Vick's 36-yard scramble in the first quarter is something Foles couldn't perform on a scooter, never mind in his cement cleats. Chip Kelly doesn't just talk fast; he worships fast. Vick is fast. Foles is not.
Since arriving here with a reputation for innovation, Kelly has insisted that he will tailor his offense around the talents he has on the roster. Don't believe it. The new coach wants the kind of flexibility that a Mike Vick — or, in the near future, a Marcus Mariota of Oregon — can bring. Foles is an ideal West Coast quarterback; unfortunately for him, he's playing on the East Coast now. Vick is 33, and probably in his final season here.
Much will be said in the weeks ahead about the Vick-Foles rivalry at quarterback, but the real story was clear for all to see Sunday. Vick is only a short-term answer, a placeholder for a much younger version of himself. And Foles could be an excellent NFL quarterback, but it definitely will not be in Philadelphia.
Flyers looking like zombies
At first, it sounded like a joke. The Flyers did what? They fired coach Peter Laviolette after just three games? Yes, they did. Now, the only real joke is the Flyers' organization itself, led by two clueless souls named chairman Ed Snider and GM Paul Holmgren.
Assuming it was indeed Holmgren's decision to dump Laviolette for former Flyer goon Craig Berube, the most obvious question is how Holmgren himself has survived this latest mistake. The GM committed to Laviolette, had the veteran coach run an entire training camp, then changed his mind when the team started 0-3. Wow.
The truth is, Laviolette did appear lost so far, forcing his offensive system on a team that was neither fast enough nor smart enough to employ it. The Flyers have looked like cast members from the TV hit, "The Walking Dead," zombies aimlessly patrolling the ice. Plus, Laviolette is a short-term coach by nature; his departure was inevitable.
But once Holmgren had decided to bring the coach back for another season, it is laughable that he reversed field this fast. Either Holmgren has no confidence in his own decision-making, or he shares with his boss a penchant for panic. Regardless, this move is an announcement to the hockey world that Paul Holmgren has totally lost his way.
Of course, the bigger story with the Flyers never changes. Ed Snider is 80 years old and hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 38 years. He surrounds himself with yes men and former players, an army of glad-handing robots who guarantee only more failure.
Peter Laviolette is a good man and a very good coach. The Flyers did him a big favor yesterday. Now at least he doesn't have to stick around for the ugly end of the Ed Snider era.
Leaving Philly can boost reputation
A new formula for success has emerged in the past few years for sports figures working in Philadelphia: Leave. That's right. The road out of town is paved with success.
For example, Phillies fans can enjoy the exploits of two recent heroes, Shane Victorino and Delmon Young in the playoffs. Victorino ended up in Boston after his trade to Los Angeles last summer, and he has never played better. Apparently, all he needed to do was sprout some facial hair. And Young, a total bust here (and a grump, to boot), already made his mark with two big postseason home runs in Tampa.
Meanwhile, Andy Reid is unbeatable in red. He took over the 2-14 Kansas City Chiefs and has already reeled off five straight wins, including a gut-punch to the Eagles. His old boss, ex-president Joe Banner, traded his best running back in Cleveland last month, Trent Richardson, and then watched his dreadful Browns post three straight victories. Did you see Banner's big smile last Thursday in the owner's box? It's been a while since he was that happy.
The list seems endless these days. Hunter Pence left Philadelphia last summer and immediately won a World Series in San Francisco. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are still celebrating their 2012 Stanley Cup in Los Angeles. After winning two championships in Boston, Terry Francona is a candidate for manager of the year this season with the Indians.
Finally, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is performing his first stage show this weekend in Atlantic City. This is not a joke. Manuel is going to tell some sports stories and kibitz with the fans in a venue at the Tropicana usually reserved for stand-up comedians.
The way things are going, how long will it be before Manuel emerges as the next Jerry Seinfeld?
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Ruben Amaro admitted last week that he had a bad offseason last winter. OK, now we're getting somewhere. What about the year before that, and the one before that? It takes a lot of bad offseasons to go from a World Series champion to 73-89. The Phillies GM was here for all of them
» For some reason, LeSean McCoy got involved in a Twitter war with Knowshon Moreno on Sunday, saying the Denver running back "sucks" and was "KILLING" the Broncos. This couldn't be because Moreno was picked ahead of the Eagles running back in the 2009 draft, could it?
» The Sixers are on a goodwill trip to Europe right now, promoting basketball. Once they generate interest in the NBA out there, they will tackle the much greater challenge of doing likewise here in Philadelphia.
» ESPN is involved in a media blitz to support SportsCenter, whose ratings are down 20 percent in the past year. Here's some unsolicited advice: Get back to presenting the sports news, and not some fake hipster agenda.
» Former Eagle Ricky Watters quit his job as a high-school coach in Florida after being accused of using profanity on the sidelines. When informed of the allegation, Watters probably said: "For who? For what?"
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