Eagles Wake-Up Call: QB Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the running backswide receivers, tight ends and the offensive line so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the quarterbacks.

The pressing question: Will there be a legitimate QB competition during camp and the preseason?

The answer is yes. You’ll hear some suggest that Chip Kelly didn’t give up a second-round pick and Nick Foles to pay Sam Bradford $13 million as a backup quarterback. And in a general sense, that’s true. The Eagles acquired Bradford to be the starter.

But as we’ve discussed before, Kelly’s entire operation is based on competition, and if Mark Sanchez clearly outperforms Bradford in August, he’ll be the one getting the nod in Week 1 against the Falcons. It really is that simple with Kelly.

“I think it’s always an open competition,” Kelly said last month. “You still have to go out and earn your jobs. If Sam throws 14 interceptions and Mark throws 14 touchdowns, I can’t sit there and tell the team that Sam’s going to start and Mark’s not going to start. It doesn’t work that way.”

So Sanchez has to be way ahead of Bradford to earn the job?

“Whoever’s gonna give us our chance to win our opening game against Atlanta is what our decision will be made on.”

Again, I think the Eagles see more upside with Bradford, and ultimately I think Bradford will end up outplaying Sanchez and starting Week 1. But the QB competition is not a farce. Sanchez has a shot.

Roster battles

It’s all about the No. 3 spot here. The Eagles have not shown any confidence in Matt Barkley. He’s entering Year 3, and if Barkley were developing the way the team initially envisioned, he’d be in the mix for the backup job. Instead, he’s trying to hold off Tim Tebow for a spot on the 53-man roster.

If Kelly is looking at who the better option is should Bradford and Sanchez go down, the guess here is that he’ll stick with Barkley. But despite what Kelly’s said about Tebow being strictly a QB, there’s a chance he might have a package for Tebow in the run game. Tebow seemed to be running more zone read than the other QBs during the spring. If he stands out in that aspect, Tebow has a shot at sticking.

One thing I think

The decision Kelly makes at QB after the 2015 season will be his biggest as Eagles head coach.

There are a few different ways this thing could go. One is that Bradford stays healthy and plays really well. If that happens, the Eagles will have to make a long-term commitment to him, and it won’t be cheap.

If Bradford doesn’t stay healthy or doesn’t perform great, he could still return, but on a short-term, reasonable contract. If he’s a complete disaster, the Eagles could cut ties altogether.

As long as he’s here, Kelly will continue to take swings at the QB position until he connects. Maybe that means trading for someone else next offseason. Or maybe it means drafting a QB early and having him compete with Sanchez/Bradford in 2016.

There’s a ton of uncertainty as we enter 2015, but Kelly will have to make a crucial call on the direction of the QB position after this season.


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