The Philadelphia Eagles have had a lot of mixed blessings at the quarterback position already. Of course, Eagles fans like myself have reason to focus on the worst, after two straight injuries to Michael Vick. Yet with Vick's downfall seemingly a matter of time, it gives us more reason to cling to the upside of Nick Foles' preseason rise.
There is no other choice, since there is no reason for the Eagles to send Vick back until the season opener on Sept. 9. As such, the rest of the preseason will become the Foles show, as these final two warm-up games are his audition not only as Philadelphia's No. 2 quarterback, but the potential No. 1.
Foles has been the beneficiary of injuries all preseason, as regularly scheduled backup Mike Kafka has been out and Vick has gone down early twice in a row. This has made the Eagles see more of Foles than they expected, and he has made them like what they've seen.
Although Philadelphia has been scoreless this month with Vick on the field, Foles put them on the scoreboard and reenergized them in both games so far, which eventually led to wins. It may be meaningless since he did it against the backup units of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots in August. But in a preseason where Vick keeps going down and the other starters still haven't shaken off their rust, Foles is a relieving ray of light.
Now that Vick's time will be limited until the regular season starts, this is Foles' time to prove he isn't a two-game preseason wonder. If he can be as impressive in the next two games as he was in the last two, then Philadelphia can believe it has a real backup if Vick gets injured again. But if Foles comes back down to earth, then harsher reality will hit.
The Eagles are pinning their Super Bowl hopes on one of the most fragile quarterbacks in football. Barring that, they'd have to turn to either a rookie backup, another injured quarterback in Kafka who struggled filling in last season, or former starter turned third or fourth-stringer Trent Edwards. If Foles can't help put a prettier picture on that setup - and Vick can't either - then Philadelphia will have to turn its Super Bowl hopes down a notch.
Lighting up the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 24 and the New York Jets on Aug. 30 may not prove that Foles can win games when they count. However, he may not have a choice but to try, so the Eagles should at least feel as confident with him as possible. This will be the biggest mission left in the preseason, and one that should be Philadelphia's top priority - since this looks less and less likely to be the last we see of Foles in 2012.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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