Assistant coaches Greg Austin, Jerry Azzinaro, Erik Chinander, Matthew Harper and Todd Lyght aren't the only new Philadelphia Eagles employees Chip Kelly is bringing over from Oregon. That's because the team signed former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon to a two-year contract on Thursday, giving Kelly a dark-horse candidate to lead the offense as well as an ally who can help the rest of the candidates grasp his system more quickly.
The latter point, I believe, is most crucial. Kelly, who was Dixon's offensive coordinator during his fantastic senior season at Oregon in 2007, has essentially hired a player-coach. Dixon has successfully run Kelly's offense and will now essentially be paid to help translate that system to Michael Vick, Nick Foles and whomever else joins the stable of pivots in Philadelphia.
I'm not suggesting Dixon has to deliberately impart Kelly-style wisdom to his new peers, but that should happen naturally. As someone who ran for 583 yards under Kelly's supervision in '07, he clearly understands how to excel in that offense.
When you consider that there's also an outside chance he'll be able to sweep in and earn a roster spot, regular-season reps and maybe even starting opportunities, it's hard to see the downside here.
"We are excited to bring in Dennis Dixon to compete at the quarterback position," said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a press release issued by the team. "Dennis is a veteran in this league that has been a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams in his career. He's also very familiar with Chip Kelly and how he operates."
What will Dennis Dixon's role be in Philly?
Two key points there.
The first is that obviously they're giving Dixon a shot, albeit a long one, to jump from the Ravens' practice squad to a starting spot.
The second is that—oh my God, Dennis Dixon has two Super Bowl rings.
Although Dixon wasn't a big factor in either championship season, those experiences certainly won't hurt the 28-year-old's ability to become somewhat of a leader in the Eagles' locker room.
The five-year NFL veteran has thrown just 59 regular-season passes in his career, but he's still such an exceptional athlete that you know an offensive mastermind like Kelly can find unique ways to utilize him if he's able to make the 53-man roster.
While it's something the Eagles would never admit, there's also the fact that Dixon is a freakish athlete whom the Eagles can use with a little bit of abandon. Vick is getting paid the big bucks, and he's fragile. They could, however, mix things up by bringing Dixon into games in particular read-option scenarios. Considering where his career was before Kelly saved him, I'm betting Dixon will be cool with being Vick's stunt man. A kamikaze quarterback.
Or—again, at the very least—Kelly's right-hand man on the roster.