Earlier today I saw a clip of the NFL Network where Donovan McNabb and Shaun O’Hara discussed NFC East teams and some storylines to watch. One of the questions in regard to the Eagles is which should be followed closer this summer…Chip Kelly or the QB competition.
Both players agreed the QB competition is most important.
I completely disagree. Chip Kelly is the more important story to follow this summer.
Here’s my thinking. The Eagles hired Chip Kelly to be the leader of the franchise for the next 5 years. The expectations for him are through the roof. That’s due to his great success at Oregon and his reputation as an offensive guru. Kelly is one of the hot commodities in the football world. If he pans out, the Eagles will get back to being one of the best teams in the NFL. If…
Michael Vick was kept around this year, but only because the QB landscape was so unimpressive. Nick Foles was a 3rd round pick last year that went 1-5. Matt Barkley slipped all the way to the 4th round. It would be great for one of these guys to have a terrific year and emerge/re-emerge as a franchise QB, but the Eagles didn’t spend great resources on them and have realistic expectations.
Think of it this way…if the NFL suddenly told the Eagles they could choose a QB from another team, they might have 20 different guys they would choose over the current players. If the Eagles could swap coaches…there would only be a handful of guys around the league that Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman would take over Kelly.
As things stand right now, Chip Kelly is the future of the Eagles.
We have no idea who of Vick, Foles and Barkley will win the QB battle. Beyond that, we don’t know if the player will perform well this season or if the player is going to be part of the team’s long term plans. It is very possible that the Eagles franchise QB isn’t on the roster right now. We have to see how these guys perform before we know that. None of them is compelling. That doesn’t mean they can’t become great players, but it isn’t fair to hold them to that standard.
This reminds me of one important note to .bring up about Mike Vick. A lot of the national guys expect him to win the job. That’s fine, but I think too often those guys are looking to the past and not the future. The Vick of the early 2000’s is gone. The Vick of 2010 is gone. We started to see him lose a step in the last couple of years. He is still plenty fast and has a cannon for an arm, but he will go down another notch this year. That’s not a knock on him. It happens to all QBs as they get older. Heck, all players and all people. Getting old sucks.
Back to Kelly for a second…I’m going to be focused on him this summer because I need to know if the franchise is in the right hands. I’m a fan of his, but I’ll gladly acknowledge any shortcomings he has. I’m not talking about calling plays and schematic stuff. I’m focused more on running the team and dealing with the media. Kelly will be cutting players for the first time. He will have to deal with moving players up and down the depth chart, and then the media scrutiny that comes with that.
Just as important as how the players handle the QB competition is going to be how Kelly handles it. Dealing with kids isn’t easy, but NFL egos are a whole other level. Vick was once the #1 overall pick. He’s been a Pro Bowl QB. Foles threw for 10,000 yards at Arizona. Barkley is the first ever 4-year starter at USC and holds many Pac-12 passing records. Sitting two of these guys is harder than sitting Bryan Bennett.
At the end of the summer, I don’t think we’ll have any clue if the right QB for the future of the Eagles is on the roster. I do think we’ll have a good idea if Kelly was the right choice as coach. Because of that, studying him closely makes more sense to me.
The QB angle is something that we’ll do more in retrospect. If one of them plays great this year, we’ll point back to that day in camp when the guy led the team on a great 2-minute drive or something he did in a preseason game. I don’t think we’ll know about the importance of that stuff at the time.
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On Friday I will write an article pointing out some Eagles questions and weaknesses. As I discussed in the Freeman/Graziano post, my beef isn’t with them raising questions about the Eagles. I just think they did a poor job of raising those questions. Since outsiders aren’t doing a good job of poking holes in the Eagles, I will.