During his weekly phone appearance on 94.1 WIP-FM radio, Kelly was asked if Foles would be his quarterback for the long term. His answer: “I hope so.”
That prompted reporters to ask Kelly about it during his Monday afternoon news conference. The result was a variation of the back-and-forth over whether Foles or Michael Vick would be Kelly’s starting quarterback.
“I will say he is the starting quarterback for the next thousand years here,” Kelly said, tongue firmly in cheek. “If I'm wrong next week, then I'm wrong next week.”
On a more serious note, Kelly said Foles could well be the quarterback beyond this season, but again hedged.
“Yeah, as long as he can stay healthy,” Kelly said. “That's what I've qualified it with all the time. That is one thing I don't think anybody can predict, the health of anybody. That is a reality. How many quarterbacks have gone down this season in the National Football League? It's a pretty high amount.
“I think that's one thing everybody has to understand when you're going into this thing. It's a very, very difficult game. They take a lot of hits. I understand why they protect the quarterback in this league because of the hits they do take. When you have a quarterback that's durable and can last, that's when you know you've got a guy.”
The issue is of interest mostly because of the perception Kelly would eventually need to find a mobile quarterback of his choosing to run his offense. At 33, Vick was a stopgap at best. Foles was perceived to be too immobile to run Kelly’s system. As he’s put up unprecedented numbers and won games, though, it is natural to wonder if he can be the franchise quarterback.
But Kelly doesn’t like to waste time or energy on things when he doesn’t have to. The Eagles can’t draft Marcus Mariota or Teddy Bridgewater in time to play the Detroit Lions Sunday, so why speculate? By the time they have to decide on the draft, they'll have four more Foles performances, plus possibly the postseason, to evaluate.
“Right now, I'm on a one-week deal,” Kelly said. “I don't think Nick's going to come in tomorrow and say I don't want to play anymore because you guys don't want me here six weeks from now. So the questions we get asked about it long term, right now is not long term. Long term for us is this Sunday against the Detroit Lions, that is the end of the deal.”
Throughout the competition between Vick and Foles, Kelly would say that if he had a player like Tom Brady, his No. 1 quarterback would be obvious. Surely Brady or Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees are going to be the starters for their respective teams in 2014.
“It's a semantics thing,” Kelly said.
And it turns out Kelly is as good at semantics as he is at drawing up plays.