The standard questions about the health of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles arose again Monday and the standard non-answers from coach Chip Kelly followed. Andy Reid used to love opening his news conferences with injury updates whereas Kelly loves to pretend he's never looked at or asked about an injury report.
"No, I have no updates on Nick," Kelly said the day after backup quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Eagles offense fell limp in a 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Whenever an offense fails as fantastically as the Eagles did Sunday, it's natural that the quarterback's role is discussed. It becomes even more topical when the starter, in this case Foles, nears the time line for his return. It typically takes six to eight weeks for a player to heal from a broken collarbone. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers missed seven weeks and seven games last season before leading the Packers to a wild win at Chicago's Soldier Field in Week 17 that put his team in the playoffs.
The only similarities between Foles and Rodgers right now are that they both play quarterback and they both suffered broken collarbones in Week 9 of an NFL season. It was easy, of course, for Packers coach Mike McCarthy to make the decision on Rodgers last year. Green Bay needed a win, Rodgers was healthy and Matt Flynn was the alternative.
The line is going to be far more blurred for Kelly. At the moment, there is no decision to be made. Foles will not be ready to return Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Sanchez will get a shot at redemption for his performance against Seattle and an opportunity to repeat the stellar effort he put together on Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys.
Only the entire season is riding on it and if you were to listen to Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett's evaluation of Sanchez after Sunday's game you'd find this to be a precarious position for the Eagles.
"You need to tell the Philadelphia police that they need to put an [APB] out, because Sanchez is out there trying to impersonate a good quarterback," Bennett told USA Today. "What did I see out of Sanchez? The same thing everyone else did - not much."
Kelly said he had not seen those quotes from Bennett, and what would it have mattered if he had? It was simply a case of a guy feeling good about himself and his team after the testosterone-driven destruction of Sanchez and an Eagles offense that entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL.
Sanchez has, at times, done a great impersonation of a good quarterback and if you look around the NFL you probably would be hard-pressed to find a lot of backups who could have done better than the former USC star. The Eagles are 3-2 in his five starts and also won when he played most of the game the day Foles got hurt in Houston.
His completion percentage in the four games in which he has led the Eagles to victory is 64.9 and his passer rating in those games is 92.35. That qualifies as good. It is also slightly better than what the Eagles got from Foles through the first eight games this season.
In truth, it has been difficult to differentiate between Sanchez and Foles. Both of them have been guilty of committing too many turnovers and coming up small against elite defensive teams. Sanchez was no worse against Seattle than Foles was against San Francisco.
Sanchez, in fact, was no worse against the Seahawks than San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick had been the week before, and Kaepernick is just two years removed from playing in the Super Bowl. Kelly is also correct to point out that the problems in those games when his oft-celebrated offense has disappeared extended well beyond the man who stands behind center.
"I mean, nobody on the offense played very well," Kelly said. "It was the entire group. The whole lot of us - coaches, players, whatever - we didn't have a very successful day on offense."
No, they did not. And now they move on to another showdown with Dallas before finishing out the season against Washington at FedEx Field and the New York Giants in the Meadowlands. Sanchez will be at the offensive controls Sunday against the Cowboys and it is possible (not probable) that Foles could be ready to return in the next game.
Kelly is too smart to say how he'll play his hand beyond the game against the Cowboys. He knows a lot can happen over the course of a 60-minute football game. Based on what we've seen so far, Sanchez deserves to finish this mount regardless of Foles' condition.
When the season is done, the Eagles will have to decide if either Foles or Sanchez represents the team's future at quarterback. Again, based on what we've seen so far, you'd have to say the answer is no.