Breaking Down the Philadelphia Eagles' QB Battle

Alex DunlapContributor IMay 8, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 30:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles sits on the bench in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 30, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 42-7.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

We know that head coach Chip Kelly is bringing a brand new offense to Philadelphia in 2013. What we don't know is who's going to run the thing. 

The Eagles have a good-old-fashioned QB battle on their hands to start things off under an all-new coaching regime.

Mike Vick was a turnover machine in 2012. It was an unmitigated disaster and former head coach Andy Reid often looked like he was ready to just give up.  

The Eagles were guilty of sloppy game management and decisions being made at a pace that were slow as molasses. It was a nightmare as Mike Vick had to be fitted for a special kevlar jacket to prevent the cartilage in his ribs from being cracked apart and torn with each hit. 

In Week 9, rookie Nick Foles stepped in and looked about as good as a player physically can in losing six of seven games to close things out in a lost season. Their competition in the pocket going into this season, rookie Matt Barkley, might as well call his 2012 USC campaign a "lost season" as well. 

Widely touted as a top-10 talent had he elected to leave college early in 2012, Barkley returned to USC and really managed to stink up the joint at times. Watch Stanford vs. USC in 2012.

A horrible Barkley saw his stock fall all the way to the fourth round in 2013 after a 2012 season that brought with it more questions than answers about his adaptability to the pro level. 

As Barkley says though, his jersey won't say "fourth-round Barkley" on it. To say where Barkley was drafted doesn't matter would be foolish, though.

The NFL is more entertainment than sport at the executive level. The NFL is an entertainment business that puts a football product on the field. Barkley is a fourth-round quarterback and will remain that way until either his rookie contract is up in four years, he is cut or he forces a team to renegotiate his status.

Just like his new buddy Nick Foles, Barkley is also vying to unseat an enigmatic public figure doing a late-career impression of his formerly elite self.

When looking at the offense Kelly will be bringing to Philadelphia, the decision seems like a no-brainer. A fast, high-flying spread attack designed to get speedy playmakers the ball in space sounds tailor-fit for Vick. 

We can't put all of the fault for Vick's 2012 woes on his shoulders. The offensive line play was atrocious so there was a reason Vick was getting creamed so often and it wasn't just the fact that he generally makes terrible decisions.

Defenders were flying in on Vick like warplanes and when he could escape the initial onslaught with his feet and break free, he was almost always spied by an inside linebacker or safety. 

This season will be different if all goes according to plan. Left tackle Jason Peters will return from a ruptured Achilles and bring much-needed stability to one tackle position. The other will be filled by rookie Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, who the Eagles selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

Talk about adding weapons with speed and explosive ability. The Johnson pick allows Todd Herremans to move back to his natural position at guard and shore up the right side with a junkyard dog. He might not have grown up wrestling bears, but he did run a faster 40-time than Anquan Boldin, register a better vertical than A.J. Green and bust out a better broad jump than Stevan Ridley at the combine.  

Add in players like rookie tight end Zach Ertz  and free agent tight end/halfback addition James Casey along with the Eagles' existing weapons among the skill positions and one thing is certain—no matter what variation of Kelly's offense comes to Philly, they are a team that's going to run.

It's going to be a track meet.  

Vick is the model of the modern "running quarterback." He still has wheels too. Just ask teammate Shady McCoy who recently challenged the "old man" to a race and got smoked.

However, how much is a running quarterback really needed in this kind of attack?

Sure, Kelly has thrived with running QBs during his time at Oregon, but that was college, and this is the NFL. Every defensive end or outside linebacker knows how to handle the read-option offense. 

How important is it to simply be able to steer the ship and get the ball in the hands of the weapons that your offense possesses? How important is making good, sound football decisions?

Furthermore, can Kelly's offense be run by a player like Nick Foles? 

Foles was an accurate passer in college due to the dink-and-dunk style of the Arizona offense he led there. Kelly played against him in PAC-12 competition. He knew the player he was inheriting and has good things to say about him. 

Foles saw his stock fall through the 2012 draft process due to disappointing Senior Bowl and combine performances despite his physical gifts. The thing to remember is that Foles picks up things extremely quickly and his ex-coach Reid is thought of as a master developer of quarterbacks. 

Foles is a known "sponge" for information. Ask anyone who covers preps in Austin, Texas, where he attended Westlake High School, the alma mater of Drew Brees.

It's easy to see why Foles' development was so positive through the 2012 NFL season. Reid instilled in him the confidence to harness the arm and mind that has drawn countless comparisons to Brees starting in ninth grade. 

As a Philadelphia Eagle, Foles looks right at home. He is a stone-faced, seemingly unemotional player, almost like Eli Manning. It's a good face to put on in the NFC East, especially in a city where they boo and throw snow balls at Santa Claus.

Now there's Barkley, a player who has put a majority of the NFL throws on tape over and over through his career, but has exhibited terrible decision-making during periods of awful offensive line play in college. 

It's interesting when watching previous Eagles games to see how Foles at least managed horrible offensive line play. Philadelphia wasn't winning games while he was at the helm, but his overall quarterback play seemed manageable at the least, and during a serious divisional title race to boot. That says a lot for a rookie player. 

It's hard to think that Barkley could come in and do too much besides hold a clipboard next to Dennis Dixon, but how many people really pegged Russell Wilson to beat out Matt Flynn in 2012? 

It's a new offense in Philly. Only Kelly knows what he wants and Kelly's regime has begun with a QB selection in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

Barkley seems a lot more like Foles than he does like Vick, that's for sure. The selection of Barkley has led many to believe that the "future" of the Philadelphia Eagles offense isn't necessarily a dual-threat weapon at quarterback. 

Remember though, this is Mike Vick and Chip Kelly. It's time to sell some tickets.