Before the 2001 draft Reid had dispatched offensive coordinator Brad Childress to look for a young backup for McNabb. Reid doesn't believe an NFL quarterback needs a big arm to be successful. "A quarterback, I think, needs good feet and accuracy and has to be sharp because we've got a ton of verbiage in our offense," Reid says. Childress whittled his list to about 15 candidates. "On film of a game against Michigan State from [ Feeley's] junior year, I saw him make all the throws, including movement throws, and I told Andy, 'I think this is our guy,' " Childress recalls. At Oregon, Feeley played behind a pair of passers who were picked third in the NFL draft—Akili Smith (1999) and Joey Harrington (2002). Plagued by bursitis in his throwing elbow and an abdominal tear, Feeley made only eight college starts. In training camp this year he barely beat out Tim Hasselbeck for the No. 3 job.
But there was Feeley on Dec. 1, starting against the St. Louis Rams, who had beaten the Eagles twice in 2001 en route to the Super Bowl. "The amazing thing before that game," says Feeley's roommate, defensive end Brandon Whiting, "is that he wasn't nervous at all. In fact, he told me, 'I'm a little nervous that I'm not nervous.' " Confidently mixing an occasional deep throw with a steady diet of short crossing routes and out patterns, the 6'3", 217-pound Feeley has guided the Eagles to wins over the Rams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Redskins. But Detmer could be ready to play as soon as this Saturday at Dallas, and Reid says he'll get his job back when healthy. The same goes for McNabb. The Eagles are cautiously optimistic he'll return for the first playoff game, probably on Jan. 11 or 12.
But Feeley has earned his keep. He has the same persona as the Cruise character in Risky Business, the story of a high school senior whose cockiness and guile get him the girl of his dreams and admission to Princeton. "You think so?" Feeley says, smiling at the Cruise comparison. "Interesting. Everything was against him, but he handled it."
Just as Feeley has done for the past three weeks.