They say if you have more than one quarterback, then you don't have any at all. While the statement is accurate as a generality, the Philadelphia Eagles might end their quarterback controversy with a pleasant surprise—a bona fide starting signal-caller.
Some have speculated Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly would consider running a two-quarterback system, but that’s highly unlikely. Revolutionary coach or not, Kelly isn’t going to use such a sophomoric tactic in the NFL.
So someone has to come out on top, but who will it be between Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley? Let’s take a look at the entire situation.
The Chip Kelly Offense
Before we get into each player’s criteria, let’s get one thing straight.
The Chip Kelly offense is much more than a hurry-up-and-hike-the-ball gimmick.
The quickness of the scheme has much more to do with getting the ball into the hands of playmakers immediately than snapping the ball quickly. The crux of the offense revolves around making smart, quick decisions—not just crazy athletes who can motor to the line of scrimmage.
The Vick Perspective
At first blush, it would seem Vick is the best fit for the Kelly scheme.
But looks can be deceiving.
Kelly is probably not going to have the quarterback run anywhere near as often as he did at Oregon. NFL defenses are much bigger, faster and better prepared to handle such plays, meaning the quarterback would too often be exposed to injury.
Basically, there goes Vick’s best advantage.
"But what about the energized and focused Vick we saw in 2010?" you ask. "None of the other guys in this competition have enjoyed success anywhere near that level."
However, if you look at the accompanying highlight video, you’ll see that very few of the selected plays showcase a fit for Kelly’s scheme.
You probably noticed that Vick constantly held onto the ball for a long time before making a decision. There were too many deep drops where he would stand 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and hesitate before making a decision. Oftentimes, he would watch and pump fake while waiting for a receiver to spring free as opposed to throwing him open.
Essentially, he hasn’t demonstrated that he can make quick decisions about openings before they exist, which is a Kelly staple.
Lastly, I’m aware that many players around the league love playing with Vick but that type of respect can be earned by winning, regardless of who is at the helm.
The Foles Perspective
While Foles doesn’t have Vick's athleticism, he does match Vick’s main passing strength: the deep ball. Foles played in a more traditional pro-style offense at Arizona and repeatedly proved the ability to get the ball to his receivers downfield.
To be fair, Foles’ numbers during his cameo as a starting quarterback weren’t overwhelming. He threw six touchdowns compared to five interceptions and put the ball on the ground five times.
However, his play wasn't nearly as disastrous as advertised. In fact, his 60.8 percent completion rate would rank as Vick's second-best passing season by comparison.
So to recap, he's a more accurate quarterback who has just as much zip on his passes as his rival. And, at least with Foles, one can give him the benefit of the doubt that his ability to read a defense and make the right decision will improve since he's so young.
That same benefit doesn't extend to Vick.
Need more proof? Check out Foles’ highlight reel from last season.
You can see that Foles displays much less hesitation with the ball in his hands. He has a tendency to get back quickly, plant his feet and get rid of the ball. He makes resolute decisions and lasers the ball to his target.
And don’t forget that we’re comparing a rookie’s tape to the highlights of Vick’s best season.
The Barkley Perspective
Barkley will be given a shot to earn the starting nod, but the odds aren’t in his favor. While he ran a West Coast scheme for the USC Trojans, his arm strength lags far behind the others.
Without seeing how Barkley will respond to the fast-paced NFL game, it’s too early to take his candidacy seriously.
The Final Verdict
This job is Foles’ to lose. And if he takes to this offense like his skill set dictates he can, he will hold onto the gig for a long time.