This year marks the start of a new era in Philadelphia Eagles football. As we are all aware of the Eagles made big changes this off-season with new coaches and players. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is taking over an Eagles team who has underperformed at all phases of the game since their big free agent signing spree in 2010-11 off-season. The history behind new coaches switching to the NFL isn’t a very good one. There are only a couple of coaches who have had success at the pro level.
When Kelly was hired almost everyone assumed, based on what he did in college, that he would need a mobile quarterback to run his offense. Then you started hearing talk about what they might do with Foles. Will they trade him? If so, what can they get for Foles. This was often a question at the time among Philly fans and the media. Then the Eagles shocked everyone by drafting Matt Barkley out of USC. Barkley is the exact opposite of a mobile quarterback.
So now you have three favorites to have a chance at starting for the Eagles in Vick, Foles, and Barkley. Vick is the experienced veteran who has never been able to stay healthy, prone to turnovers, and lacks the ability to get the ball out quick. Foles as a rookie last year showed some signs of being an effective pro quarterback, effective but not great. He showed poise in the pocket and he showed fans and coaches that he had an understanding of the game. There is no question he has things to work on that are a must if he wants to play 10+ seasons as a good QB, at the least, in the NFL. The rookie Barkley was a projected top 5 pick in the 2012 draft if he hadn’t decided to forgo his senior year at USC. Barkley is your typical pocket passer playing in a west coast offense. There are questions surrounding his arm strength and whether he can make all the throws. In his senior year Barkley and the USC Trojans were the preseason top ranked team in college football. However it was a huge disappointment and Barkley didn’t get the chance to finish it after suffering a season ending shoulder injury.
Vick 2012 stat line: 58.1% completion percentage, 12 TD, 10 INT, 78.1 rating
Foles 2012 stat line: 60.8% completion percentage, 6 TD, 5 INT, 79.1 rating
Barkley 2012 college stat line: 63.6 completion percentage, 36 TD, 14 INT, 157.6 rating
Money and age will certainly have its influence on who will start. Vick is 33 years old and is not getting any younger. He will be owed up to $10 million this season with incentives under a newly restructured contract. If the Eagles are not satisfied with Vick’s play and chose to cut him before the season they then would save $3.5 million. If either Foles or Barkley is named the starter then they won’t have to pay a lot of money and it would make it easier to build a team around someone who is 24-25 and not a 33 year old.
Kelly has said that what he wants out of his quarter back is the ability to get the ball out quick, to be able to run the offense at a high pace, similar to that of the New England Patriots but faster, and to be smart. The Patriot averaged 74.3 plays a game in 2012- unmatched by any other team in the NFL. At Oregon last year Kelly averaged 74.1 plays per game. This is nearly at the same pace and is what you could expect from the Eagles this season. It’s no wonder though as Belichick has picked Kelly’s brain a few times even bringing Kelly in to his practices.
Having the read option as a threat gives an advantage to the offense because it forces the defense to know the assignments and it keeps them guessing. Through a read option the quarterback has three options. He can hand it off to the running back, keep it and run, or even pass it at times. Check out this video of Oregon running the read option under Kelly, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekf3RGWwqMQ This video explains the offense at a level for the casual football fan to understand. Also check out http://fishduck.com/playbook/ for tutorials on the formations and plays in the read option.
You can expect with reason to see single back two tight end sets next year along with the spread offense, both under center and in the shotgun. The ball will certainly be spread around and points will be scored. All that remains to be seen is who will be under center for game one at Landover Maryland September 9th.