Nobody has come out and said it. Not Chip Kelly, not Pat Shurmur, not Howie Roseman.
Leave it to Michael Vick to finally be the one to say it:
Nick Foles has to stay in the lineup, even when Vick is healthy.
Vick, during his weekly, paid call-in spot on radio station 94 WIP, said Thursday night that the Eagles need to let Foles continue to play after Vick is fully healed from his nagging hamstring injury.
“In all honesty, in all fairness, how can you take a guy out of the game who’s been playing so well?” Vick said.
“I’ve been in this stage before, and I know what it’s like. I understand the position that this team is in, and the one thing I never want to do is be a distraction or put our team or our coaches in a position where they feel like they’re not doing the right thing or I feel like they’re not doing the right thing.
“I trust what’s going on, I enjoy being a part of it, I love the game of football in general. So it’s important to me to be there in support and be ready if my name and number is called again.”
Vick was interviewed by WIP afternoon hosts Anthony Gargano and Glen Macnow.
Foles has been brilliant since replacing Vick, throwing 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions, setting stadium records for highest passer rating by a visiting quarterback in both Oakland and Green Bay, ending the Eagles’ 10-game home losing streak and compiling an NFL-leading 127.9 passer rating.
On Sunday, he threw for 298 yards in a 24-16 win over the Redskins, extending his streak of passes without an interception to 199 -- second-longest in franchise history -- and lifting the Eagles to 6-5 and in first place in the NFC East.
“I thought Nick went out and put on a great performance against the Redskins,” Vick said. “He went out and did everything the coaches asked him to do, and that’s what you want in a must-win game, and that’s what the magnitude of that game was.”
It’s no secret that Foles will continue to play, even though Kelly has refused to address the situation.
But having an 11-year veteran who’s been to four Pro Bowls, taken his team to the playoffs four times and has been a starter virtually his entire career come out and give his teammate this kind of vote of confidence speaks volumes about Vick, about his relationship with Foles and about his true desire to do whatever he can to help the Eagles win.
“He had an opportunity to learn from me this year and last year and just sit behind me and pick my brain, and he also went out and played the game, and now he’s just taking that and everything is unfolding for him,” Vick said.
“He’s going out there and everything he’s worked for and put into his game, he’s it putting to work, and that’s what you’ve seen.
“He can potentially be a starter in this league for a long time. It’s just about timing, as of right now. As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to continue to build that case.”
Vick said he takes his role as Foles’ mentor very seriously, and as much as he wants to play, he’ll continue to do everything he can to support the 24-year-old Foles moving forward.
“I enjoy the role of mentoring, but I also like being in action,” Vick said. “I love playing football, I love playing quarterback. It’s a great game, so I take on that role because I feel like that’s my responsibility when I’m in that position.”
Vick, now in his fifth year with the Eagles, became the starter in much the same way as Foles has now.
Vick replaced an injured Kevin Kolb in the 2010 opener against the Packers and played so well against the Packers and Lions that head coach Andy Reid announced that Vick would remain the starter even when Kolb was healthy.
Vick went 8-3 that year, made the Pro Bowl and led the Eagles to the playoffs. But since then he’s 12-17 in 29 starts. He suffered a pulled hamstring in a win over the Giants on Oct. 6 and other than a brief, unsuccessful attempt to play in the second Giants game, he’s been on the shelf since.
Kelly said on Monday that Vick has a chance to return to practice on a full-time basis next week, when the Eagles return to work following their bye week.
“I’m feeling good,” Vick said. “I think I’m gradually getting better.”