Eagles Wake-Up Call: Dixon, Foles And Kelly

I fear we are reading a little too much into the Dennis Dixon signing.

We see that Chip Kelly opted to keep Michael Vick around for next season, then went and signed one of his former Oregon quarterbacks,  and jump to the conclusion that Nick Foles is being squeezed out of the picture and it’s read-option city from here on in.

Maybe not.

Dixon’s agent believes his client will compete for the starting job.  According to a league source familiar with the team’s thinking, that’s a bit ambitious. Dixon is being brought in to compete for a roster spot. Could it turn into more? Sure, never say never. Dixon has flourished under Kelly once before. But with a history of knee problems and just three starts in five NFL seasons, the odds are against it. He’ll be on the 90-man roster; that’s the only guarantee right now.

The Dixon and Vick decisions certainly reaffirm the fact that Kelly values a QB that can move. His ideal quarterback would have some mobility to him. However, he is on record as saying it is not a prerequisite, and that Foles will have a chance to claim the starting job.

 ”There is an open competition.  Michael knows that.  Nick knows that.  Nick knew every step of the way what we were doing.  I wanted to make sure Nick was included in the plans, and I think both of them have outstanding qualities in terms of being quarterbacks in this league.  Both of them have started in this league,” said Kelly.

“I also know in this league, you better have two, so I’m excited about the two of them.  They’re both going to compete.  And who the starting quarterback is to start the season off is going to be won on the practice field.”

Kelly has repeatedly stated the importance of finding the best players and then adjusting the design to fit their strengths. Why would that not apply to the most important position on the field?

There is a chance that Foles is the best quarterback out of the three at this stage, and it’s never good business to part with your best quarterback — no matter his style. Until Kelly gets a better feel for what he has, we should not just assume that Foles is a goner.

WHAT YOU MISSED

More on Dixon agreeing  to join the Birds.

In the latest Twitter Mailbag, I explore the likelihood of the Eagles landing safety Jairus Byrd.

The Tom Gamble hire falls right in line with a Kelly philosophy.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

If Kelly does decide to move on from Foles, Andy Reid may want to snatch him up. From USA Today:

While the Philadelphia Eagles see Nick Foles as a genuine option to be their quarterback of the future, the team now has two QBs more fitted to run coach Chip Kelly’s system.

The Eagles signed free-agent Dennis Dixon on Thursday. Dixon played under Kelly at Oregon in 2007 when Kelly was the offensive coordinator. So it’s in the realm of possibility Foles could be traded. And if so, the Kansas City Chiefs could be the destination.

The Chiefs and new coach Andy Reid are interested in acquiring Foles if he becomes available, according to a person informed of the team’s thinking. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the Chiefs haven’t discussed their thoughts publicly, said the team is working on plans to add a quarterback and considers Foles a possibility.

Chris Steuber released his first mock draft of the season, and has the Eagles selecting Luke Joeckel with the fourth overall pick.

This is a scenario the Eagles would love to see happen; Joeckel falling into their lap. If Joeckel slides this far, this pick becomes a huge chip for them to deal, if they choose. There are many holes for the Eagles to correct, especially on defense. And, while the offensive line struggled last season, Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are slated to return from injury.

COMING UP

The Eagles are always up to something. We’ll continue to track them for you.

 

All-22: Breaking Down the ‘Pathetic’ Final Drive

A day after the loss to the Lions, a  fed-up Andy Reid had some harsh words for his offense.

“The last two drives offensively were pathetic. They were pathetic from a coaching standpoint and they were pathetic from a players’ standpoint,” he said.

What drove Reid to this level of irritation? We took a look at the coaches tape to find out. In this post, we’ll focus on the final drive: a three-and-out in overtime in which the Eagles lost a collective 21 yards. As a result, they were forced to punt from deep within their own end zone, allowing the Lions to take over at midfield. The game was over six plays later.

The series started with Michael Vick getting sacked for a seven-yard loss by Cliff Avril. Todd Herremans got beat badly on the play and Vick was hit from the blind side. You could chalk it up to a simple breakdown by the right tackle. But there is more to be taken from the play.

One of the criticisms of Marty Mornhinweg is that he continues to call plays that take a long time to develop despite the offensive line’s struggles. This looks like a good example of that. The snapshot below is right before Avril gets to Vick. You will see that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the only viable options in this moment, are both heading deep.


The arrow points to Brent Celek. It looks like the tight end went low on a block and ended up on the ground on purpose to dupe the defense into thinking he wasn’t a pass option. He’ll eventually move into the flat. This whole process takes time. As you can see, he is still on the ground right before Vick goes down.

Here’s another look at it:
Here you see Celek just rising to his feet. Maclin, at the bottom corner of the shot, has his back turned and is no option. The blue arrow shows Ndamukong Suh beating Danny Watkins, who is on his knees in this frame. If Avril doesn’t get Vick, Suh will apply the pressure. And Vick doesn’t have anywhere to go.

On second down, Nick Fairley dropped Vick for a 14-yard loss. It’s hard to place any blame on play-calling for this one. The Eagles have six blockers to face a four-man front. Jason Avant — at the left of the screen — will give a chip before cutting across the middle. LeSean McCoy leaks out after staying in the backfield for a beat. As the arrow indicates, Fairley will curl to the right instead of attacking north-south. Evan Mathis tries to track him.
 

Vick’s first read is covered so he goes to his checkdown. But there’s no time for a dump-off to McCoy. 
Third down is where it gets really bad. Here, the Eagles leave seven in to block and are only facing three Detroit pass rushers, yet they still get beat. Here is how it looked pre-snap.

Avril will ultimately generate the pressure from the left side, forcing Vick to throw it out of bounds. Despite the numbers advantage, Avril ends up one-on-one against Brent Celek. Herremans, who appears to be peaking upfield in the next frame, is late to help. Dallas Reynolds is also without a man.
Avril shakes free before any double team is established and flushes Vick out. There seems to be a good amount of space between Vick and Avril in the next picture. But Vick’s not about to take a sack in the end zone in overtime.
A series that started out on the 25-yard line ended on the four. It cemented the Eagles’ fate, and certainly got the attention of the head coach.