By: Justin Salmasi
It’s that time of the year. OTAs are finished and minicamp is on the horizon. Chip Kelly has already garnered both praise and skepticism for “shaking things up” with his nutrition advocacy and unorthodox offseason training regimens. However, the giant elephant in the room still remains; who will be the starting quarterback for the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles? I certainly have a strong opinion as to who should start, but my opinion doesn’t factor into Chip Kelly’s decision making. Here is a mostly unbiased analysis of the pros and cons of the two most viable contenders for the starting quarterback position.
Who can forget about that miraculous campaign #7 had in 2010? Vick showed no rust after spending nearly two years incarcerated. In fact, he displayed better arm strength and accuracy than he ever had during his tenure in Atlanta. Defenses had to remain modest at all times, because if this Virginia Tech product wasn’t going to beat you with his arm, he certainly was going to make you pay with his legs. Defenses didn’t know whether to blitz or remain in shell coverage at times, which is why Michael Vick was runner-up only to Tom Brady in MVP voting during his awe-inspiring comeback year. 2010 was indeed the Michael Vick Experience Version 2.0.
2010 showed that he still has the ability to be a duel-threat quarterback if put in the correct system. Chip Kelly’s past systems would logically suit an athlete with Vick’s skillset, if of course that is what he plans to implement in Philadelphia. He’s got a strong arm and quick legs, which are two qualities that are becoming more and more important in this new NFL era of read option offense.
Philadelphia Eagles fans would like their last two years back. However, 2012 wasn’t entirely his fault when you consider that nearly the entire starting offensive lineup was injured, so I will keep the focus on 2011. After nearly coming off of an MVP season, Vick was in his first stage of his identity crisis. Is he a pocket QB or a scrambler? His 30 TDs dropped to 19, his interceptions emphatically rose from 6 to 14, and the man just looked lost out there trying to read coverages.
2010 could also be looked at as an anomaly from a statistical perspective. Michael Vick played all 16 regular season games only one time in his 10-season career (2006). Vick completed over 60% of his passes only once in his 10-season career (2010). Vick passed for over 3000 times only twice in his 10-season career. The bottom line is, what he did in 2010 could have very well been due to teams preparing for Kevin Kolb, (the incumbent starter in 2010) having minimal tape or time with which to prepare for #7.
At a time of flux, Nick Foles came in and did an admirable job as the Philadelphia Eagles interim quarterback. He was thrown to the wolves, and still managed to have a passing yards-per-game average that would have been second to only Andrew Luck for 2012 rookie QBs. His game against Tampa Bay showed that he may possess that “clutch gene” that many Philadelphians say McNabb and Vick lacked. He’s got a long way to go before that’s a proven quality but the bottom line is that this kid has tangible potential. I’d even compare his playing style to Joe Flacco and Eli Manning, both of whom are Super Bowl champions.
Although this hasn’t been the case during this year’s OTAs, Foles arm was called into question many times during 2012. Many wonder if he can throw the long ball with velocity on a consistent basis. It doesn’t matter if the ball goes 65 yards if the final product is a wobbling duck. Furthermore, Nick Foles is not exactly Collin Kaepernick. Using a QB with his athleticism in Chip Kelly’s Oregon-style read option offense would garner more laughs than many of Adam Sandler’s recent films. The truth is that the jury’s out on Foles and whether he can be that complete quarterback that is immeasurably important in today’s NFL.
Michael Vick can still play QB, but it shouldn’t be for Philadelphia. He should have been gone last year with Andy Reid. Like Reid, I respect Vick and everything that he did for the city of brotherly love, but last year was as apt a time as any to make a fresh start. If he isn’t going to bow out gracefully, he runs the risk of being metaphorically run out of town, which is something I don’t think any of us is hoping for. There’s a reason why his 10-year, 100 million dollar contract was reduced to a 1-year, incentive based contract this offseason.
While Nick Foles was erratic at times, he was thrown into the worst possible situation for a rookie quarterback. The Eagles’ offensive line was completely decimated by injury, Desean Jackson was done for the year with I-don’t-want-to-injure-myself-for-nothing-itis, Maclin was questionable week-in and week-out, and the defense was…well, the defense. Nick Foles might very well be incompetent and a bad fit for the Philadelphia Eagles, but 2012 should not be the deciding factor in the argument. Foles has a strong arm and surprising poise at times. Let’s see what the kid’s made of.