Win the Job and 1st Half QB Talk

Posted: July 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 55 Comments »

Chip Kelly has made it clear from Day One that players will earn jobs by how they perform. The QBs split reps in the spring. Lane Johnson wasn’t automatically inserted as the #1 RT. Kelly was trying to send the message that “you earn your spot”. That’s not a direct quote, but is the idea behind what’s he’s been preaching since he got the job.

Kelly wants the best players. This isn’t going to be the players with the best background or the most potential or the highest salaries. He wants the players who perform the best. It is up to them to compete on the field and win jobs.

For some reason, some fans and media members have struggled with this issue. To be fair, other coaches have said this in the past (in all sports) and then not stuck to the philosophy when the results were inconvenient.

I genuinely believe Kelly. He comes from the world of college football. There are teams all over the country where 4-star recruits sit on the bench while walk-ons become star players. Pro football is different. There are UDFAs who make it every year, but the game’s best players mostly were rated highly coming in. It is easier to keep an open mind in college football. In the NFL, you do get caught up in draft status and price tag.

Sheil Kapadia wrote an excellent piece on the QB situation. Like me, Sheil buys in to Kelly’s words and truly expects The Chipper to choose the player who performs the best. He makes a great point here.

As we mentioned yesterday, Year 1 is about building a culture. Kelly’s expectation is that by the end of the competition, one quarterback will have emerged, and the choice will be clear not only to the coaches, but to the other players on the team and the quarterbacks themselves.

“Everywhere I’ve been, it’s played itself out on the field,” Kelly said. “Does that mean it’s going to happen here? I don’t know. But I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had to make a decision and it’s like 50-50, pick it out of a hat. Somebody over the course of time has stepped up and has ‘won the battle.’ That’s what you’re hoping to have happen again here, and hopefully it’s evident to everybody, like, ‘There’s no question that it’s this guy because his game stepped up.’ ”

The competition is wide open. If Nick Foles outplays Michael Vick all summer, and Kelly gives the job to Vick, he’ll lose credibility with the rest of his players.

Kelly needs to have his players believe what he says. If he chose the player he wanted instead of the player who performed better, that would send an odd message to the team. Players need structure and stability. They need to know what the rules are and how they’ll be judged. Kelly has to go with the player who plays the best.

And I need to address an issue here. Michael Vick was a beloved player when he was signed in 2009. That skyrocketed in 2010 when he was red hot and the Eagles were on that magical ride. Most of that goodwill…is gone. The players still like Vick as a person and they admire his career accomplishments, but the blind loyalty is gone. There were players that were happy to see Foles as the starter last year. This isn’t personal. It is simply about winning and scoring points.

If Foles does outplay Vick this summer, there won’t be any mutiny on the team. Vick still has a few guys that he’s super-close with, but most of the players on the roster just want to win. Most players will side with Kelly no matter which guy he picks…as long as that player has clearly won the job. If it is more of a coin-flip situation, that will complicate things. That’s when players will want “their guy” to win the job.

One aspect of this that I think some people struggle with is the notion that Kelly has no preference. There are advantages and disadvantages to each player winning the job. I think Kelly is wise to let them compete and choose the best player. I do think that sends a great message to the team, now and in the future. Nobody is given a job. You win it. We don’t care who you are or how you got here. You’ll be judged on how you perform. Simple as that.

Make sure to read the whole piece by Sheil. He’s got some interesting numbers in there in regard to turnovers. Foles wasn’t quite as safe with the football as we’d like to believe.

* * * * *

Speaking of the QB competition, here is an interesting article from an outside source, Cold Hard Football Facts. Justin Henry sticks to the facts and concludes that Foles outplayed Vick in 2012. Most of the stats and information that Henry covers isn’t new to those of us who have been reading and writing about this subject for months. He did have one new nugget.

Vick’s Opponent Halftime Score
Cleveland 10-3
Baltimore 7-17
Arizona 0-24
New York Giants 7-3
Pittsburgh 0-10
Detroit 7-6
Atlanta 7-24
New Orleans 3-21
Dallas 7-10
New York Giants 7-35

and

Foles’ Opponent Halftime Score
Washington 3-17
Carolina 15-14
Dallas 17-10
Tampa Bay 10-0
Cincinnati 13-10
Washington 10-13

You’d have to go back and study those games carefully to see why the 1st half played out that way for each guy and why the 2nd half played out as it did. Still, I think this is really interesting. For 4 straight games, Foles had the Eagles with the lead at the half. And in the 5th game, they trailed by just a field goal.

Vick gave us the lead in just 3 games…and it was the defense that really was the key. They held the opponents to 3, 3 and 6 points in those games. Once Juan Castillo got fired, Vick didn’t stand a chance. That’s just insane.

In Vick’s 10 starts,the Eagles scored 7 TDs in the 1st half.

In Foles’ 6 starts, the Eagles scored 6 TDs in the 1st half.

Neither number is good, but it is mind-blowing how bad the offense was under Vick. I might have to do some further research on this. Just crazy.

* * * * *

Brent over at Eagles Rewind has more stats stuff for those of you who love that stuff.  He focused on offenses and the number of plays they run per game. The Eagles were among the league leaders under Reid so how much of a difference will Kelly truly make?

I think one reason we ran so many under Reid is that we had talented offensive weapons that could move the chains. When you now combine that will Kelly’s love of the up-tempo style, I do wonder what the results will be.

* * * * *

Do you have questions about OLs and age? Jimmy Bama has you covered from every angle.

Speaking of Mr. Bama…he and I recorded a new show yesterday. We actually did a couple. The first show is a discussion on how teams should be built, in terms of what opponents do you focus on. Ray Rhodes built the Eagles to beat the Cowboys. Andy Reid built the Eagles to beat the Giants. Who should Chip Kelly focus on?

The next show hasn’t posted yet. I’ll get the link out when it is ready.

_


  • TheRogerPodacter

    do you think there is another angle to the position battles?
    i see the qb position battle give us two results – vick or foles, thats what most of us are talking about. but also consider that they are two different styles of play (for the most part). this isn’t Kelly just taking the guy who fits his system the best – its more along the lines of “which ever of you shows you can play the best gets the job and i will then gameplan to best utilize that players skills”.
    for example – if vick wins the qb battle, i would expect Kelly to utilize his speed and improvisational skills as well as his mobility: more rollouts, maybe some option and/or designed qb runs.
    if foles wins, i expect it to be a more traditional offense with the qb in the pocket.

    could this also be done for other players at other positions as well? there is quite the logjam at WR. we all think that Kelly wants the big guys out there, giving us the impression that Benn and Momah have a good shot to make the roster, if not get a good amount of playing time. but what about guys like Avant and Cooper and Johnson and Shepard?
    what criteria will the position battle be judged on? if its just “being big” then johnson and shepard are longshots. but maybe Kelly will value other things with some of the other WRs.

    who knows. i’m probably talking out my ass at this point. i hate being sick. lol

    • TommyLawlor

      Kelly has said from the beginning that he’ll build around the players he has. I think that is true with QB and other spots. All coaches do it to some extent. The Eagles didn’t throw deep as much with DeSean hurt last year.

      Kelly will adjust his gameplans to who the players are and how they’re performing.

    • Neil

      I don’t think Kelly wants Vick improvising. In fact, I think Vick showing he can play within the structure of Kelly’s offense is the only way he can win the job. If he could do that, though, he would have a good shot of winning the job since he has the best arm and can be a dangerous runner on the option plays. Basically the way that Vick winning the job would affect the gameplans is by really opening up the read option and downfield passing plays.

      For receivers, how do you figure who’s “better” between Momah and Johnson since they’re barely comparable skill sets? Frankly, I think Kelly sees these two as belonging to distinct categories, like the two types of TE. I think the decision will mainly come down to who learns the offense the best and who executes the small details like routes and catching best. Finally, whose unique attributes seem like they could have the biggest impact on a game when combined with their proficiency working within the offense, Momah’s size or Johnson’s wiggle? Kelly will want to strike a nice balance of speedsters and big physical receivers in the final roster, but if five or six speedsters were clearly superior working in the offense to any of the big receivers, I have to think that is what he would keep.

      • TommyLawlor

        WRs are tricky as you point out.

        I think you see which guy does the best at what he does. To steal a baseball analogy, you want the singles guy to hit .300 and the power guy to hit 30 homers. Whichever guy is performing better is the guy you keep. You don’t try to compare the two on skill, but rather on how well they do what they do.

        • Neil

          This is a better way of putting it.

          At the same time, there’s diminishing returns to using another roster spot each time you add a guy who might be skilled but is similar to your other good players in skillset. Here, though, the baseball analogy breaks down. 8-9 contact guys in a lineup isn’t as good as 5-6 plus 3 bombers in the heart of the lineup because contact hitters make homerun hitters more dangerous. On the other hand, Chip would want a wide variety of receiver skillsets mainly for the same reason that a handiman wants a wide variety of tools at his disposal. Varied receivers might help each other help the team in the same way combining a speed back and a power back will force a defense to have to continually adjust to both styles throughout one game, but I don’t think the effect is as prominent as in baseball in the case of running backs or receivers.

          • TommyLawlor

            I think Kelly would be cognizant of overloading on too many similar guys. Won’t happen.

  • Brad Tessler

    Tommy,

    I looked through Jimmy’s OL review. He included a very interesting chart in the Titans section showing % of draft picks spent on OL. To the naked eye, there appears to be a real correlation to a team’s success. There may be some other factors regarding cause and effect (i.e. the teams at the top already have franchise QBs), but I hope that you, Jimmy or some other propeller-head you know look further into this.

    Thanks for the good work.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll mention it to him.

      • Brad Tessler

        Thanks.

        Also, regarding the first half offense last year…

        Vick only produced two first half FGs in ten games. There was one missed, but that was in the finale against the Giants.

        Turnovers anyone?

        • Neil

          I guess it turns out there are multiple ways to never reach fourth down…

        • sprawl

          What were the redzone stats against Arizona last year?

          It was something like 4 possessions inside the 10 yard line and -6 total points wasn’t it?

          • TommyLawlor

            That was a brutal game.

  • Scott J610

    In case of a tie, you go with the guy with the most upside. And that would be Foles. Although, I still think Barkley’s in it too.

  • sprawl

    Why aren’t you guys posting the next podcast episode?

    Please don’t tell me it’s because you’re editing it…

    If Jimmy’s dog has to take a crap 15 minutes into your discussion on the wide receiver battle then dammit that just means we’re going to get 2 episodes that day and that’s the way we like it!

    • TommyLawlor

      I think Jimmy just wants to hold it for a couple of days. Should post this week for sure.

      • Flyin

        No comment.

  • Anders

    Tommy do you have any scouting done on the Eagles newest RT project?

    One thing for sure, you cant teach size like that, 6’7″ 344 and 36 inches arms

    • GEagle

      Is that the kid from Stony Brook?

      • Anders

        yea

        • GEagle

          Read that he is looked at as a mid round pick type of Talent and that he has been working out with Tre Thomas(Sheil and Tim post article on him)…Wonder how athletic he is? Hopefully Stoutland can mold him into something..

          Some Gamecock players tweeted that Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.46…Madness!

          • SteveH

            Clowney is the beast of beasts, I wish there was a way we could have a shot at him.

          • D3FB

            That was almost assuredly hand timed so you can probably give back as much as .2 seconds still impressive though.

    • TommyLawlor
      • GEagle

        we can count on you to watch some Stony Brook footage!

        At that size, you think he has any chance being able to be athletic enough to pull in the NFL?

  • Wildboark

    If you believe Kelly when he says that the competition will determine who wins the starting job, then you would also believe him when he says if they go big we go fast, or he tailors his game plan to the team he is facing, etc. So why wouldn’t he use different QBs vs different teams based upon the skill set he thinks will win him games. Remember he is an innovator.

    • TommyLawlor

      He didn’t change QBs at Oregon or New Hampshire.

      No one has successfully used 2 QBs on a regular basis in the NFL in a long time.

      • ACViking

        T-Law:

        In former Eagles HC Joe Kuharich’s sole winning season — 9-5 in 1966 — he rotated THREE QBs on a regular basis, both in terms of starts and in the games themselves.

        The QBs were Norm Snead, King Hill, and Jack Concannon. In one game, the lone play for Snead was the last play of a game in which the Eagles trailed by less than a TD and Kuharich told the ice-cold Snead to get in there and throw it as far as you can. Snead’s since said he wanted to punch-out Kuharich right there.

        Great times. Great times.

        But you’re surely right. That’s not a winning formula — especially if Tom Landry, at the height of his success, couldn’t make it work with all that talent Dallas had in the early ’70s.

        • TommyLawlor

          Landry had Morton and Staubach rotate. He’d send them in with the play.

          He also used to rotate OGs on a play-by-play basis. They’d run to the huddle with the play.

          Sometimes innovative isn’t good.

          • ACViking

            T-Law:

            Thinking back to those early Landry Cowboys of the mid- to late-’60s. . . he really valued big, tall linemen. And that continued into the ’80s.

            Back in the 60s-70s, it was DEs Willie Towns and George Andrie, and DTs Bob Lilly and Jethro Pugh.

            The shortest of those 4 was Townes at 6’4″ 260lbs.

            Lilly was next at 6’5″ 265 lbs. And both Andrie and Pugh were 6’6″, with Andrie being about 10 lbs lighter than the 265 lbs Pugh.

            Landry was ahead of his time — because linemen on both sides of the ball back then averaged about 235-240 lbs.

            BIG GUYS BEAT UP LITTLE GUYS . . . right?

            ______________

            By the way, there was a brief period when Landy rotated TEs — Pettis Norman and Billy Truax — with the plays.

            Norman, a tremendous contributor to the community, may be best remembered as the guy who dropped a game-winning TD pass on 3rd-and-goal from the GB 1-yard line off a beautiful play-action fake by Meredith in the 1966 NFL title game in the Cotton Bowl. Norman was wide open in the back-right of the EZ — though it wasn’t a great pass.

            On 4th down, Landry substituted Bob Hayes for Norman and lined him up wide. But Dallas LOT Jim Boeke moved before the snap, causing a 5-yard procedure penalty. Then on 4th and goal from the 6 yard line, Landry called a play that had Hayes at wing-back opposite the Packers’ huge HOF OLB Dave Robinson (from Penn State). The play called for Meredith to roll right . . . behind Hayes. But Robinson ran right by him and pressured Meredith into an INT in the EZ.

            If Pettis Norman catches that pass . . . well, Lombardi’s name might not be on the SB trophy.

  • OregonDucker

    Chip Kelly – “I think the accuracy part is more important than the arm-strength. There’s been some big strong guys that can just sling a ball, but those guys to me are throwers and not passers. Matt is a passer.”

    Vick verses Foles is a smokescreen. Kelly is just giving them enough rope to trip over. “The Shark” is your QB.

    • GEagle

      Jolly Ol Saint Nick might have something to say about that lol

    • MediaMike

      As long as it ends with anybody but Vick, I’m happy.

  • ACViking

    Re: Kelly – the Once and Future QB Guru?

    Here’s a great Sept 2007 NY Times article on Kelly, just a few months after arriving at Oregon, promoting not only his mentoring of QBs, but noting that he’s possesses a *photographic* memory.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/29/sports/ncaafootball/29oregon.html?_r=0

  • CampDracula

    Thanks for the writeup, Tommy. I notice how every writeup on the QB competition frames it as a Vick vs. Foles situation. What kinds of odds would you give Barkley? Are we right to write him off? If I was a rookie QB, I’d be feeling hopeful.

    • TommyLawlor

      Barkley has a major uphill battle, but he can win it. I just don’t think that is likely.

      • Flyin

        I love the fact that Tommy Eagles and OregonDucker have different views and different football team backgrounds. The leading up to to September 9 will be a ton of fun on Iggles Blitz.

      • CampDracula

        Thanks for the answer.

        How uphill? Steep, lengthy, epic, mountainous incline or slightly rolling hill? And what makes you say it’s such a longshot? Because he’s a rookie or because there’s some flaw I’m his game? Thanks.

        • Neil

          Let’s just say experience makes a big difference, on top of the fact that Barkley’s not special physically in any way. And he has better competition than if he had been drafted by the Raiders. Foles has a better arm and size and only slightly worse mobility than Barkley, and he also has six games of experience with NFL speed. And if Vick could get close to the accuracy of the other two QBs and play within the offense, he would be the obvious choice for his arm and ability to supplement the run game.

  • AnirudhJ

    Apropos of nothing, I thought this was a great place to share this article – PA guy gets credited with $72 quadrillion because of a Paypal error. It captures Philly sports fans perfectly.

    • AnirudhJ

      cir.ca/story/paypal-quadrillionaire

    • TommyLawlor

      I’d settle for PayPal giving me just $72 million.

      Or $72.

  • pkeagle

    Hey Tommy,

    Any particular reason why I can’t download the latest H2H podcast?

    I’m guessing it’s Jimmy’s fault whatever the cause.

    • TommyLawlor

      We’ve had some technical issues lately. Not sure what’s up.

      • pkeagle

        OK – we can blame JasonB until it’s fixed then
        Thanks for the quick reply

      • Flyin

        My guess… JimmyK holding it too long.

        • D3FB

          Jimmy probably was too busy worrying about the punting competition.

  • TommyLawlor

    Here’s my take on OT Michael Bamiro, who the Eagles just signed.

    http://eaglesblog.net/2013/07/eagles-add-rookie-ot/

    • Flyin

      Who was cut to allow this signing?… that is always the key to if it was worthy to take a chance on someone else.

    • MFGor

      Next King Dunlap?

  • shah8

    Oh man, but that cold hard football website is a hoot.

    • MediaMike

      Kerry Byrne, the guy who runs that site, is a bit of nut case outside of football.

  • eagleyankfan

    and … just because a QB may outplay another QB, that doesn’t mean we have a “great” QB. Just saying.

    Why do people always bring up “just use 2 QB’s”? Drive me nuts.

    Is “Chipper” going to stick?

  • eagleyankfan

    just a quick comment about AR’s teams running a lot of offensive plays. That might have to do with how quickly other teams were scoring on this defense. Eagles D last year wasn’t exactly stout…

    • Cafone

      I think it had more to do with pass-pass-pass-off the field not taking a lot of time.

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