Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly’s QB Decision Will Be Telling

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.It was almost as if Chip Kelly took offense.

The new Eagles’ head coach was meeting with a group of writers last month on the day he was introduced at the Novacare Complex. And the question posed to him was straightforward: Have you ever had a conventional drop-back quarterback?

“Yeah, a kid I had at New Hampshire, Ricky Santos, threw for 123 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in four years,” Kelly said. “So we threw the heck out of the ball.”

It was clear he had addressed this type of question before. A reporter followed up: He did run too though, right?

“Yeah, he ran because they made him run,” Kelly said. “There was a lot of self-preservation in that. But we weren’t really a designed run team. Again, that’s the perception versus reality. My quarterback last year, Darron Thomas, who is up in the CFL, we played in 14 games, he ran for 200 yards. Everybody is like, ‘’Well you run a running offense.’ Well, look at the statistics, it’s not that.”

The refrain has been the same since Kelly took the job. And it hasn’t just come from him. Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie offered similar sentiments too. They all stressed Kelly’s ability to adapt to personnel. They explained that he was not tied to the up-tempo, spread-option attack he used at Oregon.

But as we know by now, actions always speak louder than words when it comes to NFL decision-making. And that’s why we’ll be able to tell a lot about Kelly by what he does at quarterback.

As Tim mentioned yesterday, and as was first reported by Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com, the Eagles have shown interest in Dennis Dixon. If Kelly just wants to get a look at Dixon now that the Birds have an expanded roster, there’s no issue.

But if he’s expecting more, that tells us Kelly has a very specific vision of what he wants from his quarterback, and it might reveal that he’s not so willing to adapt. Remember, Dixon couldn’t even land on a 53-man roster last year. He’s been in the league since 2008 and has attempted a total of 59 passes. No one should be expecting him to be a relevant player for this team in 2013.

And then there’s Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Tim reported Wednesday that Foles and Kelly have yet to meet face-to-face. While I’d be hesitant to read too much into that, it’s fair to say we have no clue what Kelly thinks of Foles. If he decides to ride with Foles, that will tell us he is in fact willing to adapt to personnel in the NFL and change up his scheme.

As for Vick, he may want to play for Kelly, but it’s tough to figure how a soon-to-be-33-year-old who has 24 interceptions and 21 fumbles in his last 23 games would be a good option. If Kelly decides to go with Vick, it tells us he felt the previous coaching staff was doing a terrible job with the veteran QB and that he thinks he can get more out of him.

It also tells us that Kelly is willing to go with an opinion that might be unpopular among others in the organization. Remember, reading between the lines, it seems clear the Eagles were looking to replace Vick last offseason when they reportedly inquired about Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III and Alex Smith.

One other thing to keep in mind here is that Kelly and the Eagles are not expecting a quick fix. It’s very possible that the QB for 2013 will simply serve as a band-aid. Perhaps Kelly isn’t thrilled with any of his options. The best move could be to pick between Foles and Vick, draft a QB and then see if better choices present themselves next offseason.

Free agency and the trading period begin March 12. The draft is on April 25. Kelly has some time, but one way or another, his decisions at quarterback will tell us a lot about his overall plans and philosophy.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles signed DE/OLB Chris McCoy and released Demetress Bell.

Tim’s got the latest coaching buzz on Todd Grantham and Ed Donatell. Are the Eagles any closer to naming a defensive coordinator?

Kelly has reportedly hired Press Taylor as quality control coach on offense.

My Offseason Primer series continues with a look at the Eagles’ offensive line.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Brian Solomon over at McNabbOrKolb.com takes a smart look at NFL kickers. Alex Henery ranked 12th overall by his standards:

His field goal percentage was slightly higher than what was expected, and it gave him a 2.5 point lead over the average. That’s certainly good, but it’s not — to steal a phrase from Joe Flacco — elite. Perhaps Henery just didn’t have enough opportunities for long kicks, but it would be hard to blame Eagles fans who would rather the team have spent a 6th round pick on Walsh than a 4th round pick on Henery.

The Eagles have definitely shown interest in Grantham, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:

COMING UP

Lots to get to. We’ll track the defensive coordinator search, the QB situation and more.

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