The plan was to use the Eagles' second preseason game, the Monday night get-together with the Patriots, as the dress rehearsal for the starters. Typically, that happens a week later but with the Eagles facing the Browns -- the same team they'll meet in Week 1 of the regular season -- just four days later coach Andy Reid accelerated the schedule.
Of course, for the second consecutive week, quarterback Michael Vick left early because of an injury and Reid had to turn the offense over to rookie third-rounder Nick Foles. Turns out, this Foles kid can play. And now that the decision has been made to keep Vick on the sidelines for the remainder of the preseason, we'll see even more of the former Arizona quarterback beginning Friday night in Cleveland where he'll get his first NFL start.
Barring the unforeseen, this is Vick's team. This isn't about his job being in jeopardy -- because it isn't. It's about Foles showing through two weeks of August football that he's every bit the quarterback as the four that were taken in the first round of April's draft. The national storylines have focused primarily on Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. On Friday, Foles will face off with 28-year-old Brandon Weeden, the last of the first-round QBs.
There were some furrowed brows after Cleveland took Weeden 22nd overall when the team had so many other needs. Not only that, the Browns would pick again at No. 37 and every team between selections 23 and 36 already had their franchise quarterback on the roster. But these are the Browns, an organization that can never seem to get out of its own way. They pulled the trigger on Weeden after missing out on the wide receiver they so desperately needed (the Titans snagged WR Kendall Wright two picks earlier), instead dropping a second-round pick on WR Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft.
But here's the thing: three or four years from now we might look back on this draft and point out that the Browns would've been better off taking Foles in the third round and passing on Weeden altogether. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves; a lot can happen between now and then. For the time being, Foles is just focused on facing the Browns' first-team defense on Friday.
“I want to take it one play at a time, move the ball, and most [importantly] we want to put points on the board," he said Wednesday. "It is really just executing the plays, one play at a time. Just continuing to excel [and] gain comfort in the offense and show the guys around me that I can go out and play at a high level with them. We have a lot of great veterans who were out there with me the other day. It helps to have those guys around. Taking it one play at a time and executing our offense and moving the ball is the most important thing.”
Foles was asked if he had a chip on his shoulder because teams passed on him until Round 3.
"This is where I was meant to be," he said. "I couldn’t have been happier than coming here. The fact that they believed in me and were the only team to work me out [that] I met with so I had a great comfort level. That’s the only thing that is important to me. I am with the Eagles and I couldn’t be happier than the great City of Philadelphia."
Apparently, the rookie can handle it. Reid said that Foles wasn't getting the kid-gloves treatment when it comes to the playbook.
"We didn't cut anything back," Reid said via the Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Domowitch. "We had a full load of plays. It was good experience for him, from the standpoint that he's been a starter at the college level, a very successful starter. And then to learn to be a relief pitcher, that's a learned experience that you have.
"To get him that experience where you're not taking any reps with the (the first team in the practices leading up to the game), it'll be very similar to what he'll face during the season in a backup position. When you get called on, you've got to be ready to step in and fire and drive the team downfield and make plays and do the things that he did a pretty good job of the other night."
So far, so good on that front. And if Foles continues at this pace, he'll not only be the No. 2 quarterback behind Vick heading into the regular season, he could eventually be Vick's successor. Or who knows, maybe Reid will ship him to Arizona for more players and picks -- the Cards will be in the market for another quarterback this offseason if not sooner (we're kidding ... we think).