Although the Philadelphia Eagles defensive secondary has been a crippling ailment for them this season, it isn’t necessarily the major cause for concern for this now debilitated franchise. While quarterback Michael Vick has been injury prone this season, back up Nick Foles has proven to be an adequate stand in thus far. Unfortunately, Foles sustained a concussion in week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys, which prompted Chip Kelly to go with his only other viable option, Matt Barkley. In his first two outings, Barkley was fairly accurate, as he completed 60.9% of his passes for just fewer than three hundred yards. Yet, even with Barkley’s impromptu success, he still has trouble completing drives as he thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns. On top of that, Barkley has fumbled the ball three times as opposing defenses continue to bring immense pressure against a fresh rookie who is still adverse to the ins and outs of the NFL.
For the Eagles, their quarterback woes can be attributed to their two prospective starters being injured and the fact that all three of these aspiring passers don’t get consistent on the field experience. Like the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles are simply trying to figure out who has the instincts and leadership intangibles to inspire this potentially gifted football team to win valiantly week in and week out. More importantly, the Eagles will have to make a critical decision as to whom their franchise quarterback will be as Michael Vick will be a free agent next season. This is a tricky dilemma because the Eagles will have to decide between retaining Michael Vick, going with Foles or Barkley for the long haul, or potentially utilizing the draft to find a gifted young passer.
Although this may seem like a redundant mistake as the Eagles picked up Barkley to be the Eagles up and coming passer, they may want to use the rest of this season to allow Barkley to develop to determine whether he can be relied on to be a long term starter. While it’s still too early to determine if Barkley is a legit professional quarterback or not, he has thus far proven to be a methodical passer but not necessarily a prolific scorer. Given time, Barkley could transform into the strong armed down the field passer he has when he played for USC, but in doing so the Eagles would risk going through another devastating losing season.
However, in order for the Eagles to properly assess their dire quarterback situation, they need a dynamic and reliable defense that can provide relief for their inexperienced passers. While the Eagles have a solid defensive front that has proven to be stout against the rush (they are ranked 8th at stopping the rush) their secondary hasn’t been able produce this type of success. Rather, the Eagles defensive secondary usually falters more often than not as they have given up 302.3 passing yards per game (31st in the NFL) and have never held opposing teams to less than two touchdowns per game.
For now, the Eagles are content with going with Nick Foles as their starting quarterback, which is understandable given Foles immense stature. Unlike Barkley or Vick, Foles isn’t prone to turning the ball over as he has yet to thrown an interception this season. The only glaring weakness in Foles’ game is his wavering accuracy from game to game. In Foles’ first two victories of the season, he averaged a completion percentage of 67.5. However, when Foles played against the Dallas Cowboys, he only completed 37.9% of his passes before he a sustained a concussion later in the game. However, if Foles is allowed to play more complete games, he’ll be able to develop his skills more efficiently to become a more reliable game manager who can patiently work the ball down the field.
When all is said and done, the Eagles have a critical decision to make in terms of who is worthy to be their starting passer for the rest of the season. While Foles appears to have the more well rounded repertoire, Barkley could likewise be just as efficient if he his given consistent opportunities to prove what he is made of. If the Eagles secondary can become more accountable for their athletic absence, it’ll make the assessment and selection of this teams future franchise passer less of a chore.