Backup helps Eagles beat Giants
It should be a very interesting week at the NovaCare Complex. Before the ice pack had even started to melt on Mike Vick's aching hamstring, the seeds of a quarterback controversy were being planted in chat rooms and message boards.
Backup Nick Foles entered Sunday's game against the Giants with 1:25 left in the second quarter. Running a flawless two-minute drill, Foles ripped off six straight completions and moved the Eagles down the field with ease. Foles went 16-of-25 for 197 yards and threw two touchdowns — a perfectly-placed deep ball on a 25-yard bomb to Brent Celek, followed by a beautiful 5-yard fade route to DeSean Jackson — in a 36-21 win over New York.
"He's been in this position before," Jackson said, of Foles. "He knows what to do and he knows what to expect. At the same time, I think he's able to go out there and just really make a decision and just get the ball out fast. He did a great job of coming in and just giving us a chance to win."
Foles inherited a nine-point lead and took the team into the locker room with a 19-7 lead at the new Meadowlands. The team goes into next week's game, at Tampa Bay, with a very confident young quarterback.
"Nick, since he's been here, the one thing he does very well is he comes in with confidence, asserts himself in the huddle, when we are huddling, and he's just a guy that goes out there and you really don't miss too much from him when he goes in," center Jason Kelce said. "He came in and really did a great job. That's always encouraging, when you have a backup quarterback that can come in and do that, that's always a commodity in the NFL."
Chip Kelly tried to squash any rumors of a brewing quarterback controversy. The coach maintained that Vick is his starter, unless he's not 100-percent healthy, although he did leave the door slightly open for Foles.
"We're always going to compete and play, and make sure the best guys are on the field," Kelly said.
The Eagles will await word on the extent of Vick's injury in the next day or so. Vick pulled his hamstring on a 13-yard scramble late in the second quarter. He remained in the game for a few plays before Kelly decided he didn't look quite right.
"It's frustrating," Vick said. "I never question why things happen. I never question God, but I'm just running by myself and running out of bounds. I tried to slow down and I think I just took the wrong step."
Vick spent the rest of the afternoon on the sideline, trading in his helmet for a knit cap. He's dealt with this kind of injury before and fully expects to play next week in Tampa Bay.
"I'm hoping so. I'll work extremely hard," Vick said. "I've had this type of injury before. You've just got to do certain things to get it back."
With Vick out, the Eagles abandoned the running game, which had been their bread and butter in the first half against the Giants. They racked up 130 rushing yards before halftime, and ended the day with just 140 total yards on the ground.
It appeared that Kelly strayed from the read-option packages he likes to run with Vick, but the coach wouldn't admit that. Despite the huge discrepancy in those numbers, no one would blame the change in philosophy on Foles' lack of mobility. In fact, the offensive line took the blame for not blocking designed run plays properly.
"We got to be able to adjust better up front. I've got to be able to redirect a little better or call for help if I need it," Kelce said.
If Foles draws the start next week, don't expect a strictly aerial assault.
"We did that [threw a lot] today, but I can't say that we're going to do that all the time," Kelce said. "Obviously, I feel like Nick doesn't get the opportunity to run as much as Mike does, but we still have a very high emphasis on running the football, no matter who the quarterback is."
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