An Early Read On the QB Situation

Now that we have had a chance to speak with Chip Kelly for the first time, let’s dive a little deeper into the quarterback situation.

Kelly was asked specifically following his press conference whether he can move forward and run what he wants to run with Nick Foles as his quarterback.

“I haven’t watched enough tape to make any decision on anybody from how they fit into what we’re going to be when we open up in September,” said Kelly. “I’ve always been this way — I don’t want to have a preconceived notion when I turn the tape on. I want the tape to tell me what the tape says, not,  ‘I know this about him’ because sometimes it can cloud your judgement. I think you have to make a legitimate judgement of watching the film.”

Kelly says that some of the preconceived notions about his system and the quarterbacks that have run it are off base. Asked if he has ever coached a straight dropback passer, Kelly offered this example:

“The kid I had at New Hamphsire, Ricky Santos, threw for 123 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in four years, so we threw the heck out  of the ball,” said Kelly. “My quarterback last year who is up in the  CFL, Darron Thomas, played in 14 games and he ran for 200 yards. Everybody’s like, ‘You run a running offense,’ well look at the statistics. We don’t run designed quarterback runs where we are snapping the ball to him and then running quarterback power.

“With Tim Tebow, they’re snapping the ball and he’s running counter, he’s running power, it’s direct snap stuff. I have never been that way. We’ve run zone read concepts, man read concepts where it’s a mathematical game where, if there is an extra defender in the box, your quarterback can read him and by controlling him by reading him, he’s basically blocking him.”

The ability to control that extra defender is obviously something Kelly finds value in, so in a perfect world I am sure he would prefer a QB that can use his legs a little bit.

What about Michael Vick?

In his coaching manual, Kelly writes about what he looks for in a signal-caller, and it doesn’t quite sound like Vick is it.

In our attitude, every sack is the quarterback’s fault. lt is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game 0n an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away, and give us another opportunity to make a first down. lf you throw it away, it is second-and-10 for the first down. lf you take the sack, it is second-and-16 for the down. lf you can stay away from negative yardage plays, you will be successful. We base the success formula for offense on the total number of plays. Take those plays minus the dropped balls, offensive penalties, and negative yardage plays, and divide by the total number of plays. lf the answer is 80 percent or better, you win the game. The total number of good plays is what you want to consider.

The job of a quarterback is simple. He has to let  it happen, and not make it happen. We want to move forward. That is a concept you have to make your team understand. The cardinal sin at our place is the quarterback sack. We want the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in 1.5 seconds. That does not mean holding the ball until 2.5, waiting for someone t0 get open.”

The Eagles need to cut Vick by February 6 if they want to avoid a $3 million hit.

“It’s pretty obvious that there is a first decision to make,” said Howie Roseman regarding Vick. “We do have time to make that, and no decisions have been made on any person on the roster, and certainly we did not tell any coach that they could or could not do anything about any player on the roster.”

Solving the quarterback issue clearly is the team’s top priority now that there is a coach in place. Kelly is smart enough to know that he can’t succeed on this level without a quality quarterback. It stands to reason that, before making the leap from college to the pros, that he felt confident he either has the quarterback or can get the quarterback that will work for him.

Is it safe to say that he likes something he sees on the current roster?

“What we told Coach Kelly and what we told all the coaches was that we would make sure that we had every resource at our disposal to get them the pieces in place they felt they needed to win a championship,” Roseman responded. “And if they felt they needed something, and it was important to their success, we have their back. Let’s go get it. Let’s figure out how to get the best one and let’s go get it.”

That is a much different response than, “Yes.”

If Vick and Foles aren’t it, the Eagles could try and acquire a quarterback through the draft, free agency or trade.

Darron Thomas’ name was brought up in this respect. The former Duck led Oregon to a BCS title game appearance in 2010 and the Rose Bowl in 2011, then decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. He was not picked, and now plays for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

Would Kelly consider bringing him on board?

“I think Darron’s a good quarterback, but I don’t know what we can do or we can’t do so I can’t make any comments on personnel,” he said.

Do you think he can play in this league?

“Yeah, I think he can play in this league.”

It’s at least worth keeping an eye on.

There is a good chance that Vick is off the roster soon. Then what?

Maybe Kelly tries to make it work with Foles. But you can’t help but think he’ll craft a backup plan.

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