Nick Foles made it easy

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PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly on Tuesday made official what has been apparent for weeks now. Nick Foles is the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback. He is the better choice. Michael Vick is the backup.

The quarterback competition in Philadelphia is officially closed, as it should be.

Foles finished November with the highest passer rating by a quarterback in a single month in the history of the National Football League. Twice, he was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Foles was so good against Oakland, throwing seven touchdown passes, that he now shares an exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Peyton Manning.

Manning and Foles, with their cleats and jerseys hanging side by side in Canton, Ohio. Yeah, everybody saw that happening.

But happen it did. In a league in which the general rule is that if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one, the Eagles have succeeded with multiple starters. There are 12 teams in the NFL this year that have had at least two quarterbacks start games, and only two -- Chicago and Philadelphia -- have winning records. By comparison, 11 of the 20 teams (55 percent versus 16.7 percent) that have had the same quarterback start every game this season have winning records.

It is simple. Success is directly tied to having stability -- and talented stability -- at the most important position on the field. Just ask the Packers.

The Eagles, who are 6-5 heading into their game Sunday against Arizona, have defied the odds for a variety of reasons. As has become apparent in the past month, Foles is as talented if not more so than Vick. At his age and given Vick's injury history, Foles is the more viable starter. He has posted a 4-1 record and thrown 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions.

Another reason is that Kelly has proven to be a creative coach who has gotten more out his talented skill position players than former Eagles coach Andy Reid was able to the previous two years. With 15 receiving yards against the Cardinals on Sunday, wide receiver DeSean Jackson will hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since 2010, his third season in the league. Running back LeSean McCoy leads the NFL with 1,009 rushing yards and 1,408 total yards from scrimmage.

The Eagles also have been incredibly healthy. After losing three players to ACL tears in during the preseason, including most notably wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, they have not sent a player to injured reserve since the regular season started.

But perhaps the most important reason the Eagles have had success with two different starting quarterbacks is the relationship that Foles and Vick have. They are tight. While Vick was annoyed in June that the quarterback competition would extend from minicamp into training camp, he embraced it once camp opened. He never viewed Foles as an adversary. He treated him like a teammate, and the two worked to make each other better.

When Kelly named Vick the starter in mid-August, Foles was disappointed but did not let it eat at him. His immediate reaction was to congratulate Vick. Despite getting fewer reps in practice, Foles approached preparing for games as if he were the starter, which kept him mentally sharp.

Vick pulled a hamstring in Week 5 against the Giants, missed two games, returned for the second Giants game in Week 8 (when he obviously wasn't healthy) and hasn't played since. But he has supported Foles, telling him things he has seen in games or practice, helping out as best he can.

And the affinity each man has for the other is genuine.

"I think Mike and my relationship, there's no hostility," Foles told me Tuesday. "And everybody knew that. We have great guys here, and that makes it easier. We have a lot of guys that work hard and play hard for each other. I've never been anywhere else, but I know it's a great place to play."

Said Vick: "It's all about support. Like I said, I've been playing in this league for a long time. It's great to see guys who I know can play, who I spend a lot of time with, go out there and have success. And I enjoy watching it."

Vick is not stupid. His contract is up after the season. At 33, Vick's future in the NFL is likely as a backup. If he wants to extend his career and make more money playing football, Vick is going to have to do it as a supportive No. 2, not the alpha male No. 1.

Foles' future beyond this season remains to be seen. Is he the ideal quarterback to run Kelly's system? If the past three weeks are any indication, the answer is yes. Foles has five more games to make his case, starting Sunday against a ball-hawking Cardinals defense that can get after the quarterback and ending Week 17 at Dallas, which has given up the most yards in the NFL this season.

What will it take?

"Just win," Foles said. "You can do all the stats you want or do everything, but the most important thing is winning the games."

So far, Foles has done just that, which is why Kelly made the call he did.

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