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Three reasons Foles is favorite to be Eagles' starter quarterback in 2013

NICK FOLES has three fairly significant things going in his favor as far as his chances of being the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2013.

Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)Read more

NICK FOLES has three fairly significant things going in his favor as far as his chances of being the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2013.

The first is that he played pretty well in the 27 quarters he was behind center after Michael Vick suffered his concussion and before Foles broke his hand against Washington in Week 16. Not great, but pretty well.

Foles, the seventh quarterback taken in the 2012 draft, was one of six rookie QBs to start at least six games this season. He finished with a better passer rating (79.1) than everybody but the Redskins' Robert Griffin III (102.4) and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson (100.0).

He finished with a better completion percentage (60.8) than everybody but RGIII (65.6) and Wilson (64.1). And he finished with a better interception percentage (1.9) than everybody but RGIII (1.3).

The second is that neither the draft nor free agency appears to have many quarterbacks that the Eagles might fall in love with and bring in to challenge Foles. It's always possible that somebody like Matt Barkley might knock everybody's socks off at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis or at his Pro Day workout, or that the Eagles might be tempted to trade for a veteran quarterback. It's also possible we might be attacked by aliens next week.

The third thing Foles has going for him is that while the coach who drafted him may be gone, Howie Roseman, the general manager who owner Jeff Lurie credited Monday with the evaluations that led to the selections of Foles and the rest of the 2012 draft class, is still on the job and will be whispering into the ear of whomever is hired to be Andy Reid's replacement. Which may mean something or may mean nothing depending on what the new coach really thinks of Roseman.

Both Roseman and Lurie praised Foles earlier this week for the poised way he played behind a patchwork line after Vick went down. But both also made it clear that the new coach will be the ultimate decider on the starting quarterback.

"Everyone in the building thinks the world of Nick in terms of his promise and potential," Lurie said. "[But] this is going to be a decision made by the new coach, not by the owner [or the general manager].

"Nick obviously is very promising. I think when you bring in a new coaching staff, you have the opportunity to really get to know him and evaluate him.

"He only played six games behind an offensive line that's been really battered. I know Andy was very excited about Nick, and that's an understatement."

If the Eagles' next head coach is somebody like Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, whose current quarterback is stand-in-the-pocket-and-deliver Peyton Manning, a 6-6 passer with good pocket presence and the ability to get the ball out quickly like Foles can might appeal to him a lot.

If the next head coach is somebody like Oregon's Chip Kelly, whose offense favors a quarterback with more mobility, well, then Foles might want to stock up on a supply of Tums.

"I don't worry about it," Foles said as he cleaned out his locker earlier this week. "Every day you've got to prove yourself. I don't care who you are."

In his six starts, Foles definitely impressed his teammates and convinced them that he can be the team's starting quarterback next season.

"I think Nick has the skill set to win in this league," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "He's going to do everything he can to become the best player he can be.

"Nick is fearless. He's not scared. He'll throw the ball downfield. He's not scared to hang in the pocket and complete balls. One thing that kind of sticks out about him is that when he moves around, his eyes are always downfield. That's something that's really key for a quarterback in this league."

If Foles had been selected in the first round of the draft rather than the third, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. He would be the Eagles' starting quarterback heading into next season and that would be that. Wouldn't matter whether the next coach was McCoy or Kelly or Vince Lombardi.

But the Eagles have nothing invested in Foles financially. Taking a quarterback in the third round is strictly a roll of the dice. The Seahawks, who selected the 5-10 Wilson 13 spots ahead of Foles, rolled a seven. Maybe the Eagles did too. It's just too early to know.

"I think he got some valuable experience this year," center Jason Kelce said. "It's always rough your rookie year, especially getting thrust into it midseason like that.

"But he handled everything well. He's a leader. The way he asserts himself in the huddle is going to be great for us moving forward. I think there's a lot of positives to Nick Foles."

Several Eagles players, including Kelce, have said that one of the team's biggest problems this season was a lack of leadership.

A quarterback generally is perceived as the offensive leader by the nature of the position he plays. But some are better at it than others.

Donovan McNabb repeatedly referred to himself as a leader during his 11 seasons with the Eagles. But most of his teammates didn't really view him as one.

But the sentiment in the Eagles' locker room is that Foles has the makings of one, if he continues to develop as a passer.

"I see leadership qualities in him," said left guard Evan Mathis. "He's the kind of guy that you could see from Day 1 wanted to improve in all areas that it takes to become a good football player. And leadership is one of those areas."

Said Kelce: "I think Nick did a great job. It's always tough to lead as a rookie. I experienced that my rookie year. You haven't developed enough respect from your teammates yet to earn that.

"Your team is dramatically improved if your quarterback is a leader. He's in control of the entire offense. He controls every single person at once. He controls the blocking schemes, the running backs, the routes that are being run, when the ball's getting out, everything. Cadence. He's a game manager.

"So when you have someone at quarterback who's a leader, it makes the game that much easier for the guys playing with him. When you have a guy who's a leader and an outstanding player, then you've got a Super Bowl. I mean, look at Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, all those [types of guys]. Generally, if you have a leader at quarterback who's a good player, your team is going to be very, very successful."

Six starts has told us Nick Foles can be a very good quarterback. But they haven't told us he is. That's going to take more time. It will be up to the next coach to decide whether to give Foles that time.

"Nick Foles has a lot of promise," Roseman said. "The analogy I would draw there is, you want to make sure [about him].

"When you watch baseball, you see sometimes young starting pitchers go through the lineup one time and get them out pretty quickly because there's no book on them. Or play their opponents and the same thing. They go through them the first time pretty well.

"We have to make sure that we're evaluating the full package of Nick. He's got a lot of good tools. But that [position] and the coach obviously are the most important things for any franchise."

Get them right and you go to the Super Bowl. Get them wrong and you suffer through a lot of cold, playoff-less winters. The ball's in your court, boys.

On Twitter: @Pdomo