No-22: The Eagles’ New-School Triple Option

Earlier this week, we looked at how the Eagles packaged the zone read with the bubble screen on several occasions against the Panthers.

The basic premise was simple: If the quarterback saw favorable numbers in the box, he went with the zone read. If he thought he had an advantage on the perimeter, he threw the screen. It was an either/or proposition.

But Chip Kelly and the Eagles ran a different play that actually combines the two. In other words, it’s a zone read and a bubble screen. Or essentially, a new-school triple option.

Take a look at this play from the Eagles’ first drive last week. It looks like a normal zone read. The Eagles leave the right defensive end unblocked. If he stays at home, Nick Foles hands the ball off. If the DE crashes inside, Foles takes off and runs.

avant1a_0821

But as you can see, there’s a little more to it. On the back side, the Eagles have a bubble screen set up to Jason Avant. Foles has two decisions to make on this play. First, he has to choose whether to hand the ball off or keep it. On this particular play, the DE crashes, so Foles keeps it.

Decision two comes after he takes off. Foles can go ahead and run. But he can also sling it to Avant if the slot corner comes up to tackle him.

“Each play is something different,” said QB Dennis Dixon, who is very familiar with the options available in Kelly’s offense. “We’re reading somebody totally different each play. I can’t tell you the specifics of it, but we’re reading somebody in particular, yeah.”

avant1b_0821

The slot corner comes up, and the outside corner is 10 yards away from Avant. So Foles passes the ball to the perimeter, creating an advantage for the offense.

The more common triple option allows the QB to hand the ball off, run it himself or pitch it to a second back. The first two options in this version are similar. But instead of a normal pitch, it’s a bubble screen to the perimeter for the third option.

There’s only one defender outside the numbers, and Riley Cooper’s blocking him.

avant1c_0821

How hard is it for a defense to defend against so many options on one play?

“Hopefully it’s hard. It’s even harder on Riley trying to hold that block that long,” Avant said with a laugh. “The MVP of that play is Riley Cooper. Otherwise my head is rolled off somewhere. That’s what we’re trying to do, put as much pressure on the defense as we can.”

The truth is, if Cooper had been able to sustain a better block on the cornerback, and if the ball had gone to say DeSean Jackson instead of Avant, the Eagles would have had a chance to score on this play. Instead, it was a 6-yard gain.

Another factor to consider is where the QB is when he releases the ball. Is it meant to be a forward pass or a lateral?

“It can be both,” Foles said, not willing to offer up any more details.

Isn’t it a dangerous play if it’s a lateral? An off-target pass or a drop could result in a costly turnover.

“It’s something you’ve got to really work on in practice,” he added.

Dixon insinuated that the pass-option should only be taken if the outside cornerback’s playing far off the line of scrimmage.

“The quarterback has to be smart when he gets to that point,” Dixon said.

“It depends on how the defense is playing us. The quarterback has a lot of options. At the end of the day, we have to be able to have ball security. We just want to put it in our playmakers’ hands.”

Translation: If there’s any doubt, just keep the ball and run.

That’s what happened later in the quarter on the exact same play.

foles1a_0821

Again, the right defensive end is left unblocked. He crashes inside, so Foles keeps it. He’s got Damaris Johnson setting up for the bubble screen with Cooper as the blocker.

foles1b_0821

But this time, the slot corner sticks with the receiver. Foles makes the right call and keeps the ball, picking up 6 yards with his legs.

“If the quarterback chooses not to run the ball if somebody takes him, just to be an option for the quarterback,” Johnson said of his role on the play. “That’s it.”

And of course, the third option is to just hand the ball off. On Michael Vick’s first drive, the Eagles had three inside runs in a row, and each play had the three options built in.

The first one:

vick1a_0821

The unblocked DE gravitates towards Vick. He hands the ball off to McCoy. And the Eagles also have the screen set up.

Play No. 2:

vick1b_0821

Look familiar? Unblocked DE upfield towards Vick. He hands the ball off to McCoy. And they’ve got the screen set up on the perimeter.

And play No. 3:

vick1c_0821

This time, Chris Polk comes in for McCoy. The unblocked DE isn’t upfield, but he froze for a second until he was sure Vick handed it off. And once again, the screen is set up to the bottom of the screen (TV angle cut off the blocker on the outside).

The Eagles had five run plays on Vick’s first possession. All five had the screen element built in.

This concept exemplifies some of the key aspects of Kelly’s offense. Because the Eagles were essentially using the same play over and over again, they could move at a fast pace. Option one is to run the ball if it’s there. But if it’s not, there are options. And the field is spread, forcing the defense to account for every square inch, sideline to sideline.

The play also shows the advantage of having a mobile quarterback. Defenders are forced to make decisions that could potentially lead to disastrous results.

As Evan Mathis put it: “There’s just a lot of opportunities for the quarterback to show their athleticism in this kind of offense. There’s a lot of choices for the quarterback. There’s some plays we run that are options, and if you have a quarterback with the speed that Michael Vick has, then some of those plays can end up being pretty dangerous.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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McManus: Projecting the Eagles’ 53-Man Roster

Chip KellyYes, I defeated Sheil in the 53-man projection contest last year. Yes, it was as easy as it looked.

I’ve been called many things since then — champion, Nostradamus, King 53, the Joe Lunardi of football — but honestly, I’d really prefer it if you just call me Tim.

Kapadia is back for more. He took a shot at the 2013 roster last week. My turn this week. Teams must trim their rosters down to 53 by 6 p.m. on Aug. 31. On Aug. 30, we’ll release our final versions, matching our projections up vs. the Eagles’.

Kapadia has already written his concession speech.

Without further ado, let’s get to the award-winning projections.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.

Vick looks to have pulled ahead in the quarterback competition. Chip Kelly has preached the importance of having two capable quarterbacks at this level. That is particularly true when your chosen signal-caller has not played a full 16-game season since 2006. No reason to think Foles will be moved if he does not win the job. Kelly may very well need him. Barkley will be learning from the sideline unless Plan A and Plan B fail.

Believe it or not, Dennis Dixon still has some practice squad eligibility remaining. Dixon, a member of Baltimore’s practice squad last season, played the scout team role of Colin Kapernick in preparation for the Ravens’ Super Bowl matchup against the Niners. With RGIII in the division, he could be a useful asset on the practice squad here in Philly.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.

Could very well be a potent 1-2-3 punch.

The Eagles will be running the ball quite a bit this season (and will be running a ton of plays, period) so I’m sure Kelly is not opposed to keeping a fourth back for depth and insurance purposes. But Felix Jones has not impressed. Same can be said about the rookie Matthew Tucker. The move may be to put Tucker (or another back) on the practice squad and roll with three on the 53-man for now.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas, Russell Shepard.

The first four are locked in. What Kelly decides to do beyond that four is where it gets interesting.

Salas has been the next best receiver in camp but might not have the same upside as Shepard, who has shown a strong work ethic, good hands and little flashes that keep him in the conversation. Not sure he lasts on the practice squad. Clay Harbor has been working some at receiver. If he sticks, is there room for he, Shepard and Salas? Maybe not, but for now I’m projecting that they all make the cut.

Ifeanyi Momah isn’t ready for the show.

Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor.

Kelly has already shown a four-tight end set. We’re almost at the point where we have to ask: Is four even enough for this guy?

We have seen the value of having tight ends split out wide to serve as lead blockers for the oft-used bubble screens. This alone gives Harbor a role. Kelly likes tight ends, he’ll use tight ends, and, the guess here is he keeps at least four of them.

Derek Carrier and  Will Shaw are the other two tight ends on the roster at the moment. Neither have really stood out.

Offensive linemen (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Danny Watkins, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde.

Barbre has made the most of his opportunity in camp, and has moved into a position where he could be a primary backup both at tackle and guard. Kelly (back surgery) is hopeful he can return to the practice field around the start of the regular season. We’ll see.

Vandervelde could back up Kelce at center.

Watkins has been sidelined with a concussion since August 12. I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t make the team. If the Eagles go in a different direction, Matt Tennant is an option. Rookie tackle Michael Bamiro (6-8, 340)  is an interesting prospect, but he’s raw. Maybe you can stash him on the practice squad.

Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Damion Square, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers.

Square, an undrafted rookie out of Alabama, crashed the party and is in position to make the team. At who’s expense? We’ll say seventh-round pick Joe Kruger. The 21-year-old Kruger is a developmental pick. It’s possible he makes the 53 if the Eagles believe he’ll be plucked off the practice squad. The guess here is they take the chance. Fellow seventh-rounder David King has blended in during camp.

Kruger could make it over Geathers as well, but in terms of pure performance, Geathers gets the nod.

Logan has been impressive so far. Looks like he’ll have a role right out of the gates.

Outside linebackers (4): Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy.

Big challenges ahead for Cole and Graham as they transition to a new role. If they fail, there isn’t much in the way of a backup plan.

McCoy has enjoyed a solid summer and should make the squad.

Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Jamar Chaney.

Knott, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa St., has earned himself a job this summer.

The final spot probably comes down to Casey Matthews and Chaney. Flip a coin. I’m going with Chaney, mostly to be different than Sheil.

Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer.

Not the strongest crop of corners in the world.

Curtis Marsh is currently sidelined with a broken hand, but could make the team. We’ll give the nod to Hughes, who started in place of the injured Cary Williams against the Patriots.

Poyer has been very quiet this summer, but will make the team based on potential.

Safeties (5): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman.

On paper, the group looks better with Kenny Phillips‘ name mixed in. But as we know, the game is not played on paper. Phillips has not done much to distinguish himself since arriving in Philly. Though he missed Thursday’s game with a quad injury, the knees are the real concern. Maybe he has been holding back in the name of keeping himself healthy for the regular season. Now is the time to prove himself if he wants to stick with the Eagles.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.

Nobody is really talking about this, but Henery has not been very accurate during camp. He is missing rather frequently on the NovaCare practice fields. His one attempt in the first two preseason games was no good. Not sounding the alarm, but worth keeping an eye on.

Dorenbos is back from a concussion. Long live James Winchester.

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Dixon: Eagles’ QB Job Is Up For Grabs

It’s clear that one of Chip Kelly’s goals is to create a competitive environment where every player on the Eagles’ roster feels like he has a chance to win a spot and make an impact.

So it should come as no surprise that newly-signed quarterback Dennis Dixon believes he’s very much in the mix to be the Birds’ starting quarterback.

“From my understanding, the job is open,” Dixon said Monday afternoon during a conference call with reporters. “It’s going to be a very competitive nature around here. It’s pretty much open. May the best man win.”

Of course, from an outside perspective, we know that’s not exactly true. Michael Vick recently re-structured his deal, and he’ll make a reported $7 million just for being on the team next season.

Nick Foles is also on the roster, although it’s possible he could be traded in the coming months.

As for Dixon, he spent last year on the Ravens’ practice squad. That means none of the 32 NFL teams felt he was worthy of a roster spot, even as a third-string quarterback. Dixon was originally a fifth-round pick, he turned 28 in January, and he’s attempted a total of 59 passes in five seasons.

Barring something completely unexpected, his best-case scenario is probably earning the backup job in the event that Foles is dealt.

We’ll get into the pros and cons of trading Foles in a later post, but one of the primary arguments for shipping him off is that Foles doesn’t have the mobility Kelly wants out of his QB. I asked Dixon how important that mobility was to Kelly when he played for him at Oregon.

“I wouldn’t say that it was a big thing,” Dixon said. “I think that Chip Kelly… he can tailor his offense to whoever is presented at that given time.”

Going forward, Dixon’s not sure what kind of system Kelly is going to run in the NFL. For that reason, he’s not sold on the idea that the Eagles brought him here partially to help school the team’s other QBs.

“I expect something totally different from Chip Kelly than the past five years,” Dixon said. “That was Oregon. Moving forward, he might see something totally different in the span of five years. I’m wide open just like Nick Foles and Michael Vick.”

Dixon spent part of last season simulating the Ravens’ upcoming opponent. Baltimore’s offense revolved around a classic drop-back passer in Joe Flacco, but Dixon was asked to play Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III during practice.

“It was something that I was accustomed to in the Oregon days,” he said. “Colin Kaepernick can run, but he can also throw the ball still. I tried to do that for my defense [the Ravens].”

The one aspect of Kelly’s Oregon program that Dixon is pretty sure will make its way to the Eagles is the tempo.

“It gives us an advantage to see what the defense gives, regardless if they want to blitz or if they want to go into zone,” Dixon said. “It opens everything up as far as substitutions… they won’t have time. One thing that was ingrained in my head when Chip Kelly was at the helm was you have to move at a fast pace.”

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Eagles, Dennis Dixon Agree To Deal

The Eagles signed former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon to a two-year deal Thursday. Dixon was most recently on the practice squad for the Super-Bowl champion Ravens.

The 28-year-old has been in the league since 2008 and has just three starts to his name — all with the Steelers. He has not thrown a pass in the bigs since 2010, and was unable to crack a 53-man roster this past season.

He is now reunited with his old college coach, however, and Chip Kelly has worked magic on Dixon once already. The year before Kelly arrived at Oregon, Dixon threw 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and Oregon went 7-6. Kelly came aboard as the offensive coordinator for Dixon’s senior season. The quarterback tossed 20 touchdowns to four INTs that year, becoming a Heisman candidate as the Ducks finished 9-4. His season was cut short after he tore the ACL in his left knee in November of that year. He tore lateral meniscus cartilage in the same knee in 2010 while with the Steelers.

The type of turnaround that Dixon experienced in college is not as probable on the NFL level, but Kelly obviously sees value in mixing one of his former signal-callers into the equation. This marriage comes as no surprise, as Dixon’s name has been linked to the Eagles for weeks. Kelly was asked about Dixon on Monday.

“Last time I talked to Dennis Dixon was during the open date or whatever the Ravens had,” said Kelly. “He came out to Oregon to watch us play, and that is the last time I’ve talked to Dennis.  Anybody that we have the ability to look at and we are doing that right now, anybody that is involved in free agency in terms of trying to upgrade our roster.  Any time we can upgrade our roster, I’ll do so. I haven’t ruled anybody out of that either.”

Dixon completed 64 percent of his throws with the Ducks for over 5,000 yards with 38 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He added 1,208 yards and 12 TDs on the ground.

The 6-3 California native was selected by the Steelers  in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has completed 59 percent of his balls for 402 yards with a touchdown and an interception in limited action in the NFL.

Kelly has said on multiple occasions that he will adjust his scheme to fit the personnel. The decision to bring back Michael Vick and the signing of Dixon, though, seems to increase the likelihood that we’ll see some of the read-option here in Philadelphia. Kelly was asked how Nick Foles could compete for the starting job — would two different systems need to be employed?

“I don’t think it’s two different systems.  Again, people try to look at what we’ve done in the past and where I’ve been and kind of paint it with one brush because everybody wants a sound bite to say your offense is this. I don’t think what we do offensively can be said in one or two words that we’re either this or we’re this.  We’re an equal opportunity scoring operation,” said Kelly.

“There is a skill set that Nick has that really excites me about him.  And I had the opportunity to see him up close and personal for three years and I know what he can do.  So I’m excited to work with him.  I think we’ve got an older quarterback in Michael who is 32 now, and have a younger guy in Nick who is going into his second year, and I think it’s the ideal situation for us moving forward this season.”

And now, Dixon is in the fold as well.

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Dixon And the QB Picture

The Eagles are showing interest in quarterback Dennis Dixon, a league source confirmed to Birds 24/7.

Dixon, who spent this past season on the practice squad for the Super Bowl Champion Ravens, is free to sign a futures contract with another team. The Eagles and Dixon’s representation have been discussing a potential deal. If negotiations go smoothly, the former Oregon Duck will be reunited with Chip Kelly.

CSN Philly first had the report.

What does it all mean?

I think it would be a reach to assume that Dixon will vault right into the mix for the starting job. The 28-year-old has been in the league since 2008 and has just three starts to his name — all with the Steelers. He has not thrown a pass in the bigs since 2010, and was unable to crack a 53-man roster this past season.

Kelly has worked magic on Dixon once already. The year before Kelly arrived at Oregon, Dixon threw 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and Oregon went 7-6. Kelly came aboard as the offensive coordinator for Dixon’s senior season. The signal-caller tossed 20 touchdowns to four INTs that year, becoming a Heisman candidate as the Ducks finished 9-4.

Could history repeat? Possible, but unlikely. It certainly makes sense to bring Dixon in, though, and allow him to compete for a backup role while helping to educate his teammates on the finer points of Kelly’s offense. And if the Eagles get more out of him, then all the better.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil profiles Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel

In our first offseason primer, Kapadia looks at the wide receiver situation.

The $3 million guarantee is set to kick in, but the Eagles aren’t ready to part with Michael Vick.

The key to winning a Super Bowl? Hiring a former Ray Rhodes assistant, of course.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The bad news? Vick is on Forbes’ list of most disliked athletes. The good news? He doesn’t rank as high (low?) as he used to. From CBS Sports:

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Eagles  Vick are the most disliked players in the NFL, according to Forbes list of the 10 most disliked athletes in America.

The No. 7 ranking was actually an improvement for Vick, who topped the list last year. While there seems to be a clear reason for fans disliking Vick and a reasonable explanation for why fans dislike Cutler, it’s hard to pinpoint why Romo made the list.

Lance Armstrong was No. 1, followed by Manti Te’o and Tiger Woods.

Reuben Frank is keeping 17 of the 33 offensive players that finished the season on the Eagles’ roster or injured reserve. Here’s what he had to say about Vick and Danny Watkins:

Michael Vick: He’s going to be 33, he hasn’t won a playoff game in nine years, he’s clearly lost a step or two, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he can recapture the magic of early 2010.Goes.

Danny Watkins: I haven’t seen any evidence the former first-round pick wants to play football. Goes.

COMING UP

The Eagles could sign a quarterback and hire a defensive coordinator. Much to keep an eye on.

Twitter Mailbag: On Alex Smith, Dixon And the 3-4

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @Colaianni: should the eagles get Alex Smith and draft a QB in the 2014 draft since its a better QB class and let him learn from veteran? I am on board with that. There seems to be a good amount of anti-Smith sentiment out there, but I don’t see a ton of downside. He is slated to make $8.5 million this season (his contract runs through 2014). That’s a good chunk of change, but if you’re swapping out Michael Vick‘s $16 million, then you’re talking about a decent savings.

We know that Nick Foles is not a read-option quarterback. Why not give Chip Kelly someone who has experience in that style of offense?  Smith was completing 70 percent of his throws and had a 104.1 quarterback rating before he suffered a concussion and lost his job to Colin Kaepernick. Including playoffs, he has thrown 35 touchdowns to 10 interceptions over the past two seasons. I view him as the best available option at the moment, so long as the 49ers are reasonable in their trade demands.

From @BonoHitMyCar:  Is there really any chance of Dennis Dixon (if the rumors are true about acquiring him) being our starter next year? Maybe I am just having Steve Spurrier flashbacks, but I would be a little nervous if Dixon went from Baltimore’s practice squad to Eagles’ starter under Kelly. I think it is logical to bring the former Duck in and give him a chance to make the team, but starter? Dixon has been in the NFL since 2008 and has started three games, going 2-1 with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The idea that he will spring to life once reunited with Kelly sounds far-fetched to me, and could be a sign that the coach is putting a little too much faith in his system. But I guess you never know.

From @justin_TPM: With Chip’s love for TEs, does Brent become a centerpiece or does he become a #2 to a yet to be added piece? I have been clamoring  for the Eagles to invest more in the tight end position. I think high-end TE’s (although not easy to come by) can be very valuable in the modern NFL. Clay Harbor just hasn’t cut it. Brent Celek brings something to the table for sure, but it is past time for a complement/eventual replacement to be brought in.

I had heard that the Eagles came away from the Senior Bowl  impressed with Rice tight end Vance McDonald. Whether it is McDonald, Jason Kelce’s brother, Travis, or someone else, I would expect the Eagles to address the position this offseason.

From @tomlindlar: Would a switch to a 3-4 front depend on who we draft? IE, go 3-4 if we draft an OLB or NT, stay with 4-3 if we get an OT or CB? I believe the Eagles will switch to some form of a 3-4 eventually under Kelly, but agree with the premise that personnel will influence whether the transition is immediate or over time. Not necessarily based on who they draft this year, as you laid out. But as the roster takes shape, I think they will evaluate the parts in place and determine whether it is in their best interest to use a 3-4 for the 2013 season. Interestingly enough, it seems like several of the reported defensive coordinator candidates have experience in both schemes.

Casey Matthews described Oregon’s defense as a “hybrid 3-4.” Especially during the transition period, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw elements of both the 4-3 and 3-4.

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