Wake Up Call: Revisiting the Mobility Question


Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s question comes from reader Larry, via email:

Given that everyone talks about the need for Chip Kelly’s QB’s to be able to run, is Foles working on his speed and agility?  Can someone improve their quick twitch muscles and could Nick Foles improve his speed enough to make the read option a viable play?

Heading into last offseason, Foles said that he would work to improve his speed. 

“Maybe last year, it was 5 to 10 yards [on a given carry],” he said. “Maybe next year, it’s 15 to 20.”

Foles averaged 3.9 yards per carry in 2013. This past season, 4.3. The will and want-to is there, but any strides made in this area are going to be marginal. When it comes to the running aspect of Foles’ game, he more or less is who he is.

Whether that’s good enough for this particular system is still up for debate in some circles, even after his stellar season in Kelly’s first year. Greg Cosell, for one, believes the running element from the quarterback position is a must in this offense.

“To me, that’s critical to Chip’s offense,” he said. “I think that it’s absolutely essential.”

Why?

“When you put the quarterback in the ‘gun with the back offset and you fake the handoff, it puts major stress on the defense. That’s what the offense really is,” said Cosell. “You hear all his press conferences; the phrase he always uses is ‘clean yards.’ He likes clean yards. So when the quarterback runs, whether he gets eight yards or 12 yards or four yards and it’s third-and-three, he calls those clean yards.

“He’s not looking to have his quarterback run 20 times — no one is because you can’t play in the NFL like that — but if a guy like [Marcus] Mariota can run 8-for-64 in a given game, those are sort of hidden yards but they count.”

So you think he needs to get someone in that mold?

“Without question,” Cosell responded. “[Baylor quarterback Bryce] Petty can do that too, by the way.”

The argument isn’t whether the system can work without a mobile quarterback (Kelly’s unit finished second and fifth in yards, respectively, in his first two NFL seasons, so obviously it can) but is more about maximum output and sustainability. Defenses appeared to honor the QB run threat less and keyed on the running back more this past season, which didn’t help matters on the ground. If the offense in its current form is to reach its full potential, it would likely be with a dual-threat signal-caller.

Problem is, there are very few legit dual-threat quarterbacks on the planet, so you have to operate in reality. And the reality is that Foles — while not fleet of foot — may very well be team’s best option once again in 2015.

“If you’ve got a guy who is more of a runner — and I had some of those guys at my career at Oregon — then we feature more quarterback runs. If you have someone that’s more of a thrower then you feature more throws. If you’ve got a guy that can do both, then I think that puts a little bit more stress on the defense,” Kelly said back in November of his rookie season. “But it always has to be catered to who is pulling the trigger.”

Your question can be the topic of the morning post. Simply leave one in the comments section, on Twitter (@Tim_McManus and @SheilKapadia), via e-mail ([email protected] and [email protected]) or on Facebook. We’ll choose one each day and answer it.

We’ll go through the questions once a month and randomly select a reader for a free Birds 24/7 t-shirt.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Are there QBs that could help the Eagles besides Marcus Mariota?

A preview of what might happen to the Eagles OLBs this offseason.

Notes on what the Eagles might try to do when free agency rolls around.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation looks at how expensive Brandon Graham could get in free agency:

According to CSN Philly, Graham is “seeking a four-year deal in the $30 million neighborhood, with $20 million guaranteed.” That’s the same number CSN Philly referenced when there were reports of the Eagles having contract extension talks with Graham during the season.

$30 million over four years comes out to an average yearly value of $7.5 million. For context, via Over The Cap, only six 3-4 outside linebackers had a higher annual average at the end of 2014: Clay Matthews ($13.2M), Tamba Hali ($11.5M), Brian Orakpo ($11.5M), Jason Worilds ($9.8M), Julius Peppers ($8.7), Paul Kruger ($8.1M). Then there’s the 4-3 defensive end market to consider. Those players make even more money. A total of 13 4-3 defensive ends had a higher annual average than $7.5 million at the end of 2014.

When it comes to guaranteed money, only two 3-4 outside linebackers exceed $20 million: 2014 first round pick Jadeveon Clowney and five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews. Four 4-3 defensive ends exceed $20 million with Everson Griffen falling just short at $19.8 million guaranteed.

In other words, Graham won’t come cheap.

Pat Yasinkas of ESPN.com reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are leaning towards selecting Jameis Winston with the first overall pick:

I’ve heard that coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. When Smith chose Dirk Koetter as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator over Marc Trestman, the logic was simple. Although Smith and Trestman have similar philosophies about how to run an offense, they disagreed on the quarterbacks. Trestman preferred Mariota.

Smith favors Winston and Smith is the boss. There is lots of logic behind Smith’s preference…

At Florida State, Winston ran an offense that is at least somewhat similar to what the Bucs run. The offense Mariota ran looked nothing like that, and the only comparable NFL offense is what the Philadelphia Eagles run.

COMING UP

We’ll catch you up on the latest draft buzz.