Chip Kelly made it official today – Nick Foles is the starting QB for the rest of the season. We all knew it was true, but Kelly had to make it public and official. Nick earned the job so kudos to him.
I think Foles has played well enough to be the front-runner heading into 2014, but he will need to play well the final 5 weeks to truly secure the spot for the long term. The point of this is that Chip Kelly needs to find his QB. He needs a player he can build around. That isn’t a choice to be made lightly. If a coach picks the wrong guy, he’s likely to lose his job and the franchise can waste several years.
The Eagles are 6-5 right now. I’m willing to bet they will win at least one more game (hopefully several more). That means the team will likely be picking in the 11 to 16 range at the earliest (they’re 20th for now). Will there be QBs worth taking in that area? Would the team spend a 1st round pick on a QB?
There really are a lot of moving parts to this situation.
Foles controls his part of the equation. If he plays well, Kelly is going to become more sold that Nick is the guy for him and the Eagles. If he plays okay, that means that Kelly may still consider trying to upgrade if possible. If Foles has a stinker or two, Kelly may think QB is a position that needs to be addressed.
The part that no one controls is the market. Kelly can want an upgrade, but the right players have to be available. Kelly would have loved to land a stud QB last April, but that guy wasn’t in the draft so the Eagles spent their first pick on Lane Johnson. The Eagles have played their way out of the sweepstakes for guys like Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota.
There could be QBs that go in the mid-1st round. Derek Carr from Fresno State is a really intriguing player that I think would be an excellent fit for Kelly’s offense. Carr might have the best arm of any QB in the draft. He is a solid athlete and leads an up-tempo attack. He’s had such a strong Senior year that Carr might have played his way into the Top 10.
Johnny Football is a guy that is really tough to get a read on. It won’t shock me if he goes Top 10, but also won’t shock me if he slips further than some expect. He’s an erratic player and has serious maturity issues. Would Chip Kelly want him? Most people say yes, that’s the perfect guy for the system. I’m not so sure. I know Kelly recruited Manziel, but the guy is different now. Kelly wants plays to be run a certain way. Some improvisation is good, but Manziel might do too much of that. Manziel definitely throws more INTs than Kelly wants. And remember that Kelly raved about the Combine interview with Matt Barkley. I don’t know if Manziel is going to have the same affect on NFL teams when they meet him. If you haven’t read this great piece by Wright Thompson, do it now.
There could be other guys to consider in the mid-to-late 1st round. I’m not going through everyone at this point. Let’s see who declares and who finishes the season well. Kelly and the Eagles could spend a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a QB, but they would have to ask if that guy is genuinely better than Foles. You don’t want change for the sake of change. The Eagles would need to find someone who would be an upgrade. That gets tough outside the 1st round.
The other X-factor in all of this is Matt Barkley. He’s had a rough rookie season, but he’s also not played in ideal circumstances. Barkley saw most of his action in 2 games. He entered both with the team struggling and losing by 10 points. That put a lot of pressure on him. The coaches know what Barkley is doing every day in the classroom and on the practice field. That is more important than how he played in some tough losses.
The coaches have to ask 2 questions. First, can Barkley challenge for the starting role in 2014? Second, is he good enough to be the primary backup? Kelly always says you need at least 2 good QBs to win in the NFL. The coaches will have to be confident that Barkley could start and play well if called upon. Trying to upgrade on Barkley should be easier than Foles, but remember that the Eagles did have a 2nd round grade on Barkley. They’re not just going to grab some guy in the 3rd round. It would have to be a player the Eagles truly felt was better.
Would the Eagles want another rookie to pair with Foles and Barkley? Would they prefer a veteran to come in and help the young guys? Chip Kelly never had decisions like this at Oregon so we really don’t know what he’ll do.
With Pat Shurmur and Bill Lazor around, I’d almost like to see them go young. At that point, I’d go for an athletic QB toward the bottom of the draft. Lazor and Shurmur are veteran coaches that have worked with a lot of young QBs. They could serve the same purpose as a veteran QB. And depending on which skill players the Eagles keep around, those guys could also help with the young QBs.
More than a few fans are fascinated by Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech. I have no interest, unless the Eagles convert him to a TE or OLB. Thomas isn’t a consistently good college player. I just don’t trust guys like that to go to the NFL and suddenly learn how to play QB. I’d rather have someone like Jordan Lynch from Northern Illinois or Devin Gardner from Michigan. Each player has some issues, but they’ve also done some really impressive things in college. Thomas played his best as a Sophomore. Guys like that scare the heck out of me.
Should the Eagles decide to go for a veteran, I have no idea who they might target. Some have brought up the idea of Mike Vick sticking around. I think that would be a bad idea. Mike has said and done all the right things for 2 years, but he still wants to play. I think he’ll want to go somewhere that he can compete for the starting job with a feeling that he’s got a good chance to get it. I’d love to see Vick go to the Raiders. I think he’d look good in Silver and Black and would make those games fun to watch. Plus, he could help mentor Terrelle Pryor.
Hopefully Foles will finish well and the Eagles can put aside any worries about 1st round QBs. They can figure out how they want to go about finding someone else to be a backup. Figuring out the backup situation is the QB problem you want to have.
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Since Jimmy Bama and I haven’t been able to do a show recently, I did a podcast with Chuck and Todd from Eagles Fancast. We talked about how the Eagles season has gone to this point and what is going to happen from here.
I think I raised the most relevant point. Will the Eagles sit their starters in the NFC Championship game so that the guys are well rested for the Super Bowl? That’s what I call some serious football analysis.