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Is Chip Kelly really trying to create a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia? Isn’t that what it sounds like?
Kelly, who is in his first year as head coach with the Eagles, has given the always-hungry Philly media some grist for the mill with the news, or lack of same, about the quarterback situation with his team, in the wake of a highly credible performance by Nick Foles in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that brought the team’s record to 3-3, good enough to tie for the lead in the NFC
Foles went 22 of 31 for 296 yards in place of Michael Vick, who sat out with a hamstring injury. The speculation, though, was that Vick was not going to be out more than a week. Of course, when he comes back healthy, Vick is the starting quarterback, right coach?
Not so fast, Kelly said. He wouldn’t commit one way or the other, making clear that he had to see the medical update on Vick before making any decision. This immediately led to discussion about whether a quarterback who hadn’t necessarily put his job in jeopardy for other reasons could lose it because of an injury.
“All of our decisions are made on what’s going to give us the best opportunity to win,” said Kelly. On Tuesday he anointed Foles the starter against Dallas, in a game where they are three-point favorites at leading US book GTBets, as he doesn’t consider Vick ready to play. Most media people have made the leap with that move and consider Vick’s future in Philadelphia to be “uncertain.”
We realize that Foles had some starting experience last year when he was filling in for the injured Vick, and that he has acquitted himself quite well. We also understand that Kelly has so much confidence in his ability that he offered him a chance to compete for the job of running his hurry-up spread offense in training camp. Vick emerged as the starter on opening day.
So what did he do to blow it?
Nothing all that bad, to be honest. In fact, Vick comes across as a player who much more closely resembles the quarterbacks that have played at Oregon in the offense Kelly installed.
And speaking of Oregon, this isn’t college, where the coach can play games with his quarterbacks by declaring a job open when it really isn’t, and expect everybody to shut up and like it. Kelly’s the coach, and Vick is the player. There’s no doubt about that. But the professional ranks is a lot different than the pro ranks. Kelly can’t just yank Vick’s scholarship away, or refuse to renew it. There is an owner, and there is a big salary, and no one is looking to waste that money.
Everyone knows that Nick Foles has a nice grasp of the offense Kelly employs, but if the new coach wants to implement it in such a way that it can explore all the possibilities, Vick is the answer, just as Russell Wilson, Terrelle Pryor, Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III might be. These guys can threaten you as much with the run as they can with the pass. That’s part of the fabric of this system. Kelly knows that. When you insert Foles, you get a very respectable stop-gap; a guy who can step in who knows the playbook. And yes, NFL bettors might acknowledge that maybe he’s got a “longer” arm than Vick.
But he isn’t the kind of guy who is going to bring the whole playbook to life. Not to disparage his ability as a passer; indeed, we watched him at Arizona,. He had an outstanding career in college and deserved his shot in the pros. But for this team, he is a backup. He is the guy you turn to when something happens to the starter; the guy who can execute the “pass” version of this spread, whether you want to cal lit a “read-option” or anything else.
Maybe Vick has done something to turn Kelly off; hey, we can understand it if that’s the case. We don’t want to touch on the whole “cruelty to animals” thing, but a person like that would seem to have sociopathic tendencies, and folks like that don’t necessarily make for selfless leaders. If this is the path Kelly’s taking, we can get on board with that. But he didn’t quite detect it during the pre-season.
If this is about who’s going to play better on the field, does he really want someone under center who is, by comparison with Vick, relatively immobile back there/ Or would he rather have the quarterback who puts pressure on all eleven members of the defense the second he touches the ball?
One could suggest the latter supports Kelly’s vision best, and gives the Eagles the best chance to go farthest this season.
So is Kelly kidding himself?