Nick Foles is the primary reason you'll keep watching.

The 23-year-old rookie quarterback is the hope for the future, the one man who can make this miserable Eagles season still seem worthwhile.

After doing OK in his first career game action against the Dallas Cowboys, Foles makes his first start against the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. That part does make things interesting for a team that too often seems uninterested in the little details like covering punts and lining up with 11 men for field goals, not to mention the bigger details like blocking and tackling.

"It is exciting," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "Certainly it is for [Foles], the ball club, the players, and certainly for the coaches."

The clock has started on what kind of quarterback Foles is going to become, and the Eagles have to hope he is something a lot more than your typical third-round pick at the position.

"I will say that Nick Foles has excellent command," Mornhinweg said. "It appears he is an excellent leader. He is big, he has a big arm, and I thought he carried [the University of Arizona] as best he could [last season]. They really had problems personnel-wise . . . and he was tough both physically and mentally. He certainly is built the right way."

Those are encouraging words and words of encouragement, but Mornhinweg has been around long enough to know the NFL highway is filled with crosses on the side of the road in remembrance of failed quarterbacks with chiseled bodies and big arms.

"He will see some things that he hasn't seen before, and how he reacts to those things will be key," Mornhinweg said.

The only thing we know for sure about Foles is that the odds are stacked heavily against him and not just because of the revamped offensive line that will be protecting his 6-foot-6 frame.

History tells us that quarterbacks taken in the third round of the draft usually sink that low for a reason. In the last quarter- century, a total of 32 quarterbacks have been taken in the third round. The combined record of the 32 as starters is 300-395-1.

Only two of the 32 - Pittsburgh's Neil O'Donnell and Atlanta's Chris Chandler - ever made it to the Super Bowl, and no one on the list has won a Super Bowl. Yes, there are stories about quarterbacks taken after the third round and some who were never selected at all who have won the Super Bowl. Joe Montana, arguably the best quarterback ever, was a third-round pick by San Francisco in 1979.

Also working against Foles is the probability that whatever he learns from and does for this coaching regime will not be of any great value to a new coaching staff next season. In a lot of cases, nothing stunts a quarterback's growth more than having to learn a new offense with new coaches.

As third-round picks go, current Eagles reserve quarterback Trent Edwards wasn't an awful one. His 33 career starts with Buffalo are tied for fifth among the 32 quarterbacks drafted in the third round since 1987. He had some good moments, including a victory over the New York Jets in his first start as a rookie in 2007.

The Bills went 5-1 in his first six starts and he gave Buffalo some reason for hope. Wishful thinking resurfaced the following year, when the Bills started 5-1 before losing six of their final eight games. All the hope about Edwards was false even if the quarterback wasn't entirely to blame. Having Foles turn into the next Trent Edwards would be the worst possible scenario for the Eagles.

False hope is also what the Eagles got from Bobby Hoying, another third-round pick, when he took over as their quarterback in the middle of his 1996 rookie season. He looked great at times that year, but ultimately he wasn't nearly good enough.

"I think it's the hardest position in any professional sport to be in," Edwards said. "You have to know where 10 other guys are on the field at all times. There is the pressure of the media and the fans and the organization from top to bottom. You're the general, you're the one who stirs the drink. I can't think of any other position that could be more difficult."

Even though Edwards did not emerge as the next Jim Kelly in Buffalo, he did depart the Bills with a lot of wisdom that could help Foles as he tries to become the next franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.

"Any sort of outside influence doesn't matter," Edwards said. "It's 11-on-11, line up and play no matter the situation, and I think that causes you to calm down a lot more than if you are thinking about other things, which you shouldn't ever be doing."