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.
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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|
|New York Giants||7-3|
|New York Giants||7-35|
|Foles’ Opponent||Halftime Score|
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.
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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.
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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.