Who will be the Eagles QB in 2013? We’ve got Vick vs Foles, with a dash of Barkley thrown in. Dixon and Kinne are there, but realistically they are on the outside looking in. So who is winning?
That’s great news for Foles fans, but it doesn’t mean much. It is the equivalent of leading the Indy 500 after 12 laps. While you’d rather be first than second, the race is just getting started. Training Camp and the preseason games are the real meat of the QB battle. Hitting is live and the tempo of the action goes up a notch. That’s when you find out who can play and who can’t. Football in shorts…well it isn’t football.
I have not been to Eagles practice to see the action with my own eyes. I am making this judgment after reading practice notes and Twitter comments from Jimmy Kempski, Sheil Kapadia, Les Bowen, Jeff McLane, Geoff Mosher, Reuben Frank, Zach Berman, Tim McManus, Bob Grotz, Jordan Raanan, Dan Graziano and Don Banks. I could be leaving someone out, but you get the picture. This isn’t about one biased reporter.
While I wish I was at practice and able to judge with my own eyes, I think you can read through reports and collect enough facts to help you get a picture of what is happening. The funny thing is that some reporters aren’t even listening to themselves. Check out what Graziano had to say:
Could (Vick) still lose the starting quarterback job to Foles? Of course. But after spending three days around the team these past couple of weeks, I maintain my belief that this summer would have to be a colossal failure by Vick in order for anyone else to get the job. There’s just no one else in that red-shirted quintet who offers what Vick offers in terms of experience and 2013 upside. Foles remains, for me at least, remarkably uninspiring. Matt Barkley looks like a rookie who’s well behind the rest of the pack. Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne look like backups, which is what they are.
Was it a frustrating day on the field for Vick? Sure. He threw a pass right into one of those black “flyswatter” things those guys wear on their backs to simulate the pass rush in 7-on-7 drills. His efforts in team drills stalled while Foles completed a 60-yard touchdown bomb toDeSean Jackson. I could see why Vick was frustrated Thursday, sure. But there’s a long way to go in this yet, and I think he’s going to have to really show he can’t handle the type of offense Kelly wants to run if Kelly’s going to give control of that offense to someone else in Week 1.
He’s telling you that Foles outplayed Vick, but he still thinks Vick will be the starter because he finds Foles “uninspiring”. That comment ties in to a big problem as we discuss this issue…potential vs performance.
Vick supporters seem baffled how there is even a competition. They point to Vick’s arm. They point to his mobility. They talk about his experience and the big plays he’s made. No one questions that Vick has the edge in these areas. Vick also has some bad habits that come with this. He holds the ball too long. He has had major turnovers issues for 2 years. He isn’t consistently accurate. Vick has enormous potential, but you cannot ignore the problems. They are part of the package, and a major reason why he’s in this situation. Vick’s talent is what got the Eagles to decide to keep him. They were curious to see how he would play in Kelly’s system. That still doesn’t guarantee him the job. Not even close.
Chip Kelly is not looking for the most talented QB. That would be Vick, by far. Race over.
Kelly is trying to find the player who can run his offense the best. We know Kelly preaches accuracy and decision-making. From what I’ve read, Foles is leading in these areas. In regard to the fly swatter devices, Vick is the only QB I’ve read who has hit them. And he has even hit them multiple times in a single practice. We know Vick had an issue with batted balls in the last 2 years. Kelly is trying to get QBs to find passing lanes for those short throws over the middle. Vick is having some issues there.
Jimmy Kempski has made the most important point of all. While Vick has thrown some beautiful downfield throws, more than a few have come after he’s been “sacked”. This is when a defender gets in the backfield and puts the 2-hand touch on the QB. Coaches don’t blow the play dead. They let the offense finish it out to get use from the rep. Vick is still holding onto the ball longer than he should. His instincts to wait for the big play are still there. Kelly wants the ball gone quickly. He hates sacks and turnovers. Holding onto the ball is a good way for those things to become issues.
Foles is getting more reps than Vick right now. Foles is having more successful drives. He’s completing more passes. Vick is getting frustrated, as his comments last week would tell you. He’s just not used to being in this situation.
Is it possible that Foles is getting more reps for a non-performance reason? Sure. Kelly had more game tape of Vick to watch. He could simply want to see more of Foles. Or this could be a way to get Vick’s attention. Like all of us, Kelly knows Vick is more talented. Like all of us, Kelly knows Vick underachieved the last 2 years. One way to get him out of his comfort zone is to see Foles play more.
Of course, it could be that Foles is simply playing better and getting the extra reps because of that.
I went back and re-read some notes and info from last spring to help give context to this year’s QB situation. At this time last year, Vick was the starter. No one was close to him. Mike Kafka was throwing the ball better than ever and looked like a solid #2. Foles was a lost rookie. The team was high on his potential, but he threw a lot of ducks and looked like a project. Trent Edwards was 4th. As Geoff Mosher said in a funny tweet, Edwards was 4th “by a longshot”. Jimmy talked about how he was struggling to throw spirals consistently. The coaches had changed his motion and it showed.
Training Camp started. Vick remained the top QB. Kafka wasn’t as impressive. Foles and Edwards looked better, but were still clearly a notch below.
Then came the preseason games. Vick got hurt. Kafka got hurt. Foles got a lot of work and played well. Edwards came alive.
Vick was the starter. Kafka got cut. Foles had played well enough from August 10th (or so) that he secured the backup spot. Edwards secured the #3 job.
Barkley is clearly in third place right now. How does he compare to Foles from last year? Can he make the same leap that Nick did? I don’t know that it is likely, but it is possible. Can Dixon make a strong run like Edwards did? That is possible, especially if Dixon gets some serious preseason game reps.
Vick and Foles can change between now and August.
This really is a crucial moment in Vick’s career. Kelly has told him what needs to be done to win the QB job. Get the ball out quickly and accurately. Don’t take sacks. Don’t turn the ball over. Vick must sit down and really think about how he played in the OTAs and camps. He has to be honest with himself. Vick can play in Kelly’s system, but only if he makes changes. He must embrace the Kelly way and forget the Vick way.
Vick got a taste of what Kelly wants. He’s run the plays. He’s heard the instructions. There is no more guessing. Vick knows what the deal is. He must let go of the past and embrace the present if he is going to win the QB job and keep it. Kelly won’t let him play his way out of an extended slump.
What is so ironic about all of this is that Vick has more tools to work with than he’s ever had in his career. He has RBs and TEs and WRs and potentially a very good O-line. All Vick has to do is get the ball to the right player, on time and accurately. The pressure is then on the skill guys to be the playmakers. Vick doesn’t need to be the center of the offense. The pressure is off him. But that is a role that Vick struggles with. He is comfortable with being the guy who has to do it all since that is what most of his career has been.
It is easy to dismiss Vick since we’re talking about a major change that must be made in a short time, but I think he can do it. Kelly is trying to make things easier on Vick, not harder. This is all about attitude. Does Vick buy in and do things Kelly’s way? Last May, Trent Edwards was struggling to throw a spiral just in casual drills. By mid-August he was leading the offense up and down the field in preseason games. He finished the preseason with a rating of 100.5 and completed 67.5 percent of his passes. Vick doesn’t have to make physical changes like Edwards. Vick just needs to run the offense the way Kelly wants it. That can be done.
In the 6 weeks until the guys report for camp, Foles needs to find a RB and run the read-option over and over and over. That’s something he can work on for sure. Vick needs to throw short, quick passes as much as he can.
Working by yourself or with a couple of buddies isn’t the same as practicing with teammates in a supervised environment, but you can still gain something from it. Every rep can help if you push yourself and truly try to improve. Both Vick and Foles have strong work ethics. Both guys want to win the starting job. The player who takes better advantage of the next 6 weeks might just be the guy who will get the job.
Barkley has the most room to grow, but will he be able to pass Foles and Vick? I don’t think that is likely.
It really is funny to think back 12 months ago. We had such high hopes for Vick. We thought Kafka was going to be a good backup. Foles was a complete afterthought. Life seemed so good back then. Now we have a legitimate QB battle for the first time since 1997. The lack of stability is a bit unnerving, but the results have to be better than what we saw last year.
The QB job is there for the taking. Who wants it the most?
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Paul Domowitch wrote a good piece last week that ties in to the QB battle. It would help the Eagles financially for Foles or Barkley to win the QB job. They have cheap salaries for this year and the next couple of seasons.
Vick has been paid $3.5M and will get another $3.5M if he makes the roster. If he gets the job and plays well, the Eagles will have to pony up big money for 2014 and the future.
I think Kelly is going to give the QB spot to the player that wins it. He is a new coach and wants to win.
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Some of you have asked what will happen to Vick if he doesn’t get the starting job. I’ll cover that in a future post.