At Quarterback, It's Advantage: Philadelphia

After a revolving door at quarterback, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is going with Nick Foles, who with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions has been a surprisingly good fit. The Eagles have battled injuries at quarterback so Kelly has a feel for what Green Bay is going through without Aaron Rodgers.

When the Green Bay Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, one of the quarterbacks will be the NFC's reigning Offensive Player of the Week. The other will be coming off a miserable game in which he threw for 114 yards and a passer rating of 53.4.

For one of the few times in the past 20-plus years, the Packers will be at a quarterback disadvantage.

Philadelphia's Nick Foles had one of the great games in NFL history on Sunday, when he completed 22-of-28 passes for 406 yards and a league-record-tying seven touchdown passes against Oakland.

"He had a really good week of preparation, was very, very accurate with his passes," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said during a Wednesday morning conference call with Packers beat reporters. "I felt we protected him. It was a combination of everything. Nick played really, very well, I thought we protected him really well and I thought our receivers had a real big day, too. He was extremely accurate with his throws."

Foles, a third-round pick in 2012, has thrown 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions for the season with a passer rating of 94.0. Those are glittering numbers, but the reality is Foles has been either really good or really bad.

In the four games in which he's received the bulk of the playing time, the Eagles are 3-1. Foles had a rating of 114.9 with two touchdowns and no interceptions in relief of Michael Vick in a 36-21 win over the Giants on Oct. 6. Foles started on Oct. 13 against Tampa Bay and went 22-of-31 for 296 yards, with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a rating of 133.3 to lead a 31-20 win. Foles stayed in the lineup for the Oct. 20 game against Dallas but was a miserable 11-of-29 for 80 yards in a 17-3 loss to Dallas. Foles sat out the Oct. 27 game against the Giants with a concussion but was back last week for the 49-20 throttling of the Raiders.

Foles was drafted when Andy Reid was the Eagles' coach. Kelly, who made his name running a cutting-edge spread offense at Oregon, inherited the towering 6-foot-5 Foles. The thought was Foles, who ran a 5.03 40 at the Scouting Combine, wasn't athletic enough to play in Kelly's offense. Never mind that Foles was athletic enough to receive scholarship offers to play basketball at Georgetown and Texas, among other high-profile programs.

The Eagles selected former USC star Matt Barkley by moving up in the fourth round, and they handed the Week 1 starting job to Vick. It is Foles, however, who appears to be the Eagles' quarterbacking future.

"I just think people on the outside didn't know what our offense was, if that's what the case is," Kelly said about questions about Foles. "He's a great decision-maker. He's a better athlete than what people give him credit for. He distributes the ball extremely well all around the field. He's a student of the game and knows where the ball should go on every play. I think anybody that would make that statement probably, No. 1, didn't know Nick athletically and, No. 2, had no idea what our offense was."

Quarterback has been a revolving door for the Eagles. Three times in nine games, two of their three quarterbacks saw a significant amount of action. Vick was lost to hamstring issues in both games against the Giants and Foles sustained a concussion against Dallas. So, Kelly knows the challenges Wallace faced last week in replacing Aaron Rodgers against the Bears and how he'll be better prepared for Sunday's game against Philadelphia.

"I think that's the biggest dilemma for every coach in the NFL. How do you get your second quarterback reps?" Kelly said. "You have to get your No. 1 guy started. And going into the game, Aaron wasn't hurt so you're trying to get Aaron as many reps as you can so that he's prepared to play. You just don't have enough players to prepare two guys, whether it's at quarterback or whether it's at any other position. Your backups have to have a great grasp of the game plan. They have to study it, they have to do it, they have to mimic it, they really don't get those reps. It does help Mike (McCarthy) having Seneca in this week. He's going to be able to get him more reps in practice."

Kelly said there's a "little bit of an unknown" in preparing for the Packers' offense this week – but not so much that he feels compelled to watch Wallace's games with the Browns in 2010 and 2011 or Seattle before that. For the most part, Kelly expects the Packers to stay true to their system.

"I don't expect Mike to come out in the wishbone," Kelly said.

What he does expect is plenty of Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

"We've been in the same situation," Kelly said. "I don't think their offense drastically changes. Seneca's been in the league for a long time. I think he has a good understanding and grasp of that offensive system. The offense obviously does change because Aaron's one of the all-time great quarterbacks, not just of this era but of any era, so I think it's got to change but we're still preparing for all the other guys that are healthy and ready to go and expect a hell of a game."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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