The 5 Biggest Takeaways from Philadelphia Eagles' Training Camp
Philadelphia Eagles football under Chip Kelly will be significantly different than the 14 years spent under Andy Reid. Already, training camp has been relocated from Lehigh University. Kelly will be implementing a new hurry-up offense that means running close to 80 offensive plays per game.
Kelly has yet to announce his starting quarterback, and much of the defensive positions could be up for grabs considering the team went just 4-12 in 2012. The Eagles finished last in the NFC East a year ago, so Kelly will have his work cut out for him.
The first several days of minicamp won’t reveal any pressing information, it’s just an opportunity for the veterans and rookies alike to begin walkthroughs and simulations of plays while learning a new offensive system. The following five takeaways appear most evident thus far.
The Starting Quarterback’s Job Appears to Be Michael Vick’s to Lose
But Vick appears to be getting most of the snaps, per Jeremy Maclin in an interview on CSN Philly. That seems logical, as Vick is being paid a $3.5 million base salary and $7.7 million signing bonus for 2013. In all, it’s a $12.2 million cap hit, one that seems to suggest Vick will be the starter. Vick himself said it’s still his team.
It’s expected that Nick Foles assumes the backup role, with rookie fourth-round pick Matt Barkley as the third-string quarterback. Dennis Dixon seems to be a long shot to make the official 53-man roster. Vick’s athleticism and ability to run and pass make him an ideal fit for Kelly’s offense, even if it is just on a one-year deal to be a stopgap.
The Read-Option Will Be in Effect
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Michael Vick’s skill set is a perfect fit for the new read-option that has revolutionized the National Football League. And count Chip Kelly among the coaches implementing the read-option in his playbook.
Per Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly, Vick has been practicing the read option thus far. This system was popularized by three young NFC quarterbacks last year in Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. All are significantly younger than Vick and have taken substantially less abuse, but Vick’s raw speed and athleticism should allow him success.
Running back LeSean McCoy is one of the top five backs in the business, and he and Vick could be a lethal combination on the ground.
But Matt Barkley May Still Be a Tremendous Fit for Chip Kelly’s Offense
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It didn’t seem likely that Chip Kelly would select any quarterback other than Geno Smith or E.J. Manuel, seeing as each possesses the speed to run a read-option offense. Kelly shocked the NFL world when he took Matt Barkley, but he may turn out to be a terrific fit for Philadelphia.
Barkley is the only quarterback handpicked by Kelly. Michael Vick would have been a dynamic fit 10 years ago, but his best years are behind him. Meanwhile, Nick Foles has been the subject of trade rumors, and he could end up being a backup to Barkley.
Barkley is extremely intelligent, and he should be a master at dissecting offenses in the limited amount of time he will have between plays. Barkley has a slew of weapons at his disposal, and the fact that he’s going to be learning Kelly’s system from day one will have a great impact on him in the future.
Lane Johnson Is Expected to Start at Right Tackle
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When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson fourth overall, it was expected he would start at right tackle. That would allow Todd Herremans to move inside to his natural guard position, while former first-round pick Danny Watkins would be relegated to the bench.
That’s exactly what has happened at minicamp. Johnson has been taking snaps at right tackle, a position he played his junior season at Oklahoma. Johnson transferred to the blind spot as a senior, which gives him the versatility to play both tackle spots for the Eagles.
Johnson’s athleticism will make him a natural fit for Chip Kelly’s Eagles. He is one of the fastest offensive linemen to enter the NFL in recent years, and he will get to learn under the tutelage of five-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters, a similar offensive lineman.
Practices Will Be Run as Fast as the Games
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Most people understand by now that Chip Kelly will run a fast-paced offense that can involve up to 80 offensive snaps per game. That will require the players to be in top-notch physical condition, and that’s how Kelly’s practices are being run.
Per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, most rookies said the No. 1 thing that stood out to them was the ridiculous speed at which the practices were conducted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.
Michael Vick said he considers the practices “refreshing,” which could be because Andy Reid called for an unbalanced run-pass ratio. LeSean McCoy, who initially called the practices a “freakin’ track meet,” said he’s confident the offensive system will work.