Chip Kelly met the media today to talk about Michael Vick, the coaching staff, and the future. I thought the overall PC was good. Kelly tries to answer questions, but still has that coach ability to be secretive when he wants. A coach can only be so honest. At a certain point, he’s got to keep some information private. Too bad there’s not a magical way Chip could tell Eagles fans things that the other 31 teams wouldn’t be able to find out. ”You guys promise you can keep a secret?”
He seemed comfortable the whole time. There wasn’t a me vs the media vibe at all. Andy Reid wasn’t adversarial with the media, but rarely seemed comfortable. Chip seems to understand that part of being a football coach in today’s world means sitting in front of a microphone and answering questions.
I do have one complaint. There were several times when Kelly was very vague. In regard to the defensive scheme, Kelly talked about the 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, or 6-1. He said we’ll have 7 guys up front, but that he wasn’t concerned with specific labels. Clearly he was joking about the 5-2 and 6-1. It sorta bugs me that he can’t be more specific in regard to scheme. Saying we’ll be aggressive and attack is nice, but those are generic terms. You can be multiple and complex, but there must be a foundation.
Kelly and Bill Davis said they are still busy evaluating current personnel and want to finish that before finalizing schematic ideas. These guys haven’t been on the job long so this is a reasonable response. It just makes me nervous. I’ve seen other coaches talk about hybrid defenses and the desire to be multiple and then fail miserably. Creative gameplans are great, but there are times to just line up in a basic look and go execute. As Gus Bradley would say…”Do your job.”
Kelly and Davis will have the defensive playbook put together soon enough. I would just be more comfortable if they could talk more in-depth about it right now.
Defense wasn’t the only vague subject. Kelly didn’t want a label put on his offense. I understand he’s hesitant to say anything for fear of being pigeon-holed a certain way, but I did think he still could have described things a bit better than he did. Explaining some basic principles would have been nice. I do wonder if Kelly appreciates how smart NFL fans are these days, especially in Philadelphia. Between the writers, bloggers, broadcast media, and PE.com, fans have access to a tremendous amount of quality information. Giving us generic information won’t cut it for long. No one is asking for the playbook to be made public, but a bit more specific information would be nice.
Kelly did offer good thoughts on Vick and the QB situation. I appreciated his openness. Kelly said that Vick and Foles will compete for the job. Kelly made the comment that the decision to keep Vick was influenced by the QB landscape. In other words, there weren’t a lot of compelling options. There is no QB in the draft worth the #4 pick. There is no pro QB that the Eagles can sign or deal for that will solve the situation. 2013 is going to be a band-aid year at QB.
I’m not a fan of keeping Vick around, but I do think I understand Chip’s thinking. Look at Seattle and SF. Pete Carroll acquired Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst to compete for the QB spot. That didn’t work. He then signed Matt Flynn and drafted Russell Wilson. Flynn didn’t pan out, but Wilson did. SF kept Alex Smith and drafted Colin Kaepernick. Smith was solid in 2011 and flat out good this year. Kapernick is on a whole other level.
Like with those teams, Vick and Foles are the guys competing here. You hope one of them wins the competition. (The alternative is settling on the lesser of two evils.) Vick and Foles are short term answers. If one of them plays great in 2013, that could change. The more likely scenario is that they are babysitting the job for a rookie. The question is whether that rookie comes from this draft or 2014. It is possible that Kelly, Pat Shurmur, Bill Lazor and Howie Roseman will fall in love with a QB that is available in the 2nd round (Ryan Nassib perhaps) or possibly later. If not, next year’s class looks much better.
A few people have raised the question of why keep Vick at all. He’s clearly not the long term answer. What is to be gained by keeping him around? Go with Foles. He’s young. If he sucks, you get a better draft pick. If he’s just s0-so, you know he’s a backup. If he’s somehow great, you’ve got your QB. There is logic in that thinking.
I really think Kelly wants the competition. He had it at Oregon. There were several QB battles while he was there. This year the battle was between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota…and remember that Johnny Football had committed to play at Oregon initially. Bennett is now transferring. Mariota looks like an elite player. Manziel won the Heisman. That would have been one heck of a QB competition.
I think (and this is just a guess) that Kelly believes the competition is the most likely way to bring out the best in one of the players. It also sends a message to the rest of the team. Every job is up for grabs. You earn playing time. Contract and draft status mean nothing.
Kelly preaches the philosophy of “win the day”. That means there is value placed on every rep, every practice, every preseason game, every workout and every classroom session. You must win your job. You must perform to a certain level to keep it. If you just hand the job to Foles, that sends an awkward message to the team. Remember, Kelly is a firm believer in being able to explain “why” to his players. This is why we did this. This is why we did that.
I know some fans are worried about another long year of Vick turning the ball over. That won’t happen. If the turnovers are hot and heavy, Kelly will bench him. Chip will not let Vick play his way out of a bad stretch. Vick is a veteran and will be held to a reasonably high standard. Kelly won’t expect perfection, but Vick can’t go into a slump or he’ll lose his job. Win the day. Not the month. Not the season. The day. Too many bad days in a row will lead to change.
Vick’s deal is covered by PFT here and here. Vick signed for 3 years, but that is just for cap purposes. It really is a 1-year deal. Vick will make $7M if he’s on the team, with the potential for incentives. He’s getting $3.5M as a bonus and the same amount as salary. The bonus was split in two. Half today and half in April. If Vick loses the battle with Foles, he could be kept as a backup or dealt. Or cut. Les Bowen asked Kelly if Vick would accept staying as a backup, but we didn’t get a great answer to that. Vick clearly thinks he’ll win the competition.
One important aspect of this situation is that Vick bought into the idea of staying. Apparently he came away feeling very positive after meeting with Kelly. A QB must buy into the new coach’s ideas. Randall Cunningham didn’t do that with Jon Gruden in 1995 and Randall was 1-3 as the starter before losing his job (and the only win came when he was benched early and Rodney Peete led us to victory). Vick’s got the right attitude. We’ll see how that translates to action and results. I’ll get into the football side of Vick and Kelly in a later post. That’s another long discussion.
Some people have asked about trading Foles. Maybe. We’ve got a 3rd round pick invested in him. We could keep him as a backup for the next 3 years. That’s not the worst thing in the world. Don’t make the assumption that by keeping Vick, Kelly is now looking to dump Foles. If the right offer comes, we should definitely listen. I’ve said all along that Foles deserved a chance to compete for the job in 2013. He did some good things as a rookie, but wasn’t so good that he flat out won the job moving forward.
* * * * *
Kelly said some interesting things about the staff. He talked about the fact he wanted coordinators with NFL experience since he was coming over from college. Kelly said that he took a long time to put the staff together because he was looking for the right guys. Kelly talked about hitting it off right away with Pat Shurmur. Side note…somebody get Shurmur some uppers. He was so quiet and subdued that you’d have thought this was a firing and not a hiring. Maybe he’s always been soft spoken. Just seemed funny to see how almost shy he was.
As for DC, Kelly said he did want to interview someone from the Super Bowl, but that didn’t work out. He said no to guesses of Ed Donatell and Ted Monachino so I’m guessing it was Jim Leavitt (SF-LBs). Kelly said he was very happy with Bill Davis from the day they interviewed. Kelly mentioned that he told Davis he was really impressed, but that he felt he needed to keep looking around to make sure he was doing his due diligence.
Was Kelly being one million percent honest? Maybe, maybe not. He can’t say “Davis was my second choice”. Those type stories would come out in the future. I thought Chip mixed in honesty with probably a little bit of spin. That’s okay. All coaches do it.
I don’t think Kelly did a great job of selling Davis, but it was okay. Jim Johnson was unknown when Andy Reid hired him, but Andy did a great job of selling JJ. He talked about the GB/Indy game where JJ’s blitzes gave the Packers so much trouble. That PC was the first time I ever heard “fire zones” as the technical term for zone blitzes. Andy got us all intrigued.
“One of the things that really attracted me to Billy was his versatility and being able to coach in both systems,” Kelly said. “He’s a 21-year veteran of this league, and has coached under guys like Dick LeBeau, Bill Cowher, Wade Phillips and Vic Fangio and just spent time in Cleveland with Dick Jauron. So he’s got a good background. And that’s what I wanted in a coordinator, is a coordinator with versatility. Then it’s our job as coaches to figure out what is the best scheme for the guys we have in place.”
Not bad, but hardly compelling.
* * * * *
Off topic, but worth discussing here. A few have asked about trading for Percy Harvin. I’ll pass.
Harvin would be a great addition to the team. He is an elite playmaker. The problem is that the Eagles have a good set of offensive weapons. The OL needs some help and the defense needs multiple starters. Harvin would cost too much in terms of resources and is a luxury option.
Now…if you could deal Jeremy Maclin for him…that’s a whole other story. We don’t know what the Vikings asking price is going to be. I would think expensive, but that’s just a guess. A lot of people think he’ll go to the Pats. Bill Belichick loves Florida players. The tricky part is that for once the Pats don’t have extra picks. Will they try to pull this off?
* * * * *
NFL Gimpy posted his new MAQB column. He gave out some season superlatives and awards. Find out which Eagle was a winner…or should I say a loser.