What to Expect from Chip Kelly's Offense with Michael Vick as Eagles' Starter
Barring injury or a significant flip-flop from new head coach Chip Kelly, Michael Vick will be the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback when Philly takes on the Washington Redskins in its Monday Night Football season opener Sept. 9.
Here are a few things to expect.
Kelly is an offensive mastermind who runs a high-tempo offense and will bring a breath of fresh air to the league this season. At the University of Oregon, his offenses were routinely in the top five in college football in yards per game, points per game and total plays. Kelly's offenses spread the field, often getting defenses out of position, which led to lots of big plays.
Combine his arrival with Vick, who might be the most uniquely talented quarterback the NFL has ever possessed, and you have a recipe for excitement.
Even Vick knows it and feels it, as he told Reuben Frank of CSN Philly:
I’m having fun playing football. I fell in love with the game again, and I’m very thankful for that. You’ve got to play this game with intense passion and a purpose and I thank Coach Kelly for what he’s done for me, and that’s given me that confidence that I felt that I was losing at some point in my career.
If Vick can remain healthy and focused, he'll be the ultimate toy for a mad genius like Kelly to work with. That doesn't necessarily mean the Eagles will score 35 points a game and dominate on offense, but it does mean it'll be nearly impossible to look away when they have the ball.
2. Lots of zone read
Zone read is an important part of Kelly's offense, so we were probably going to be exposed to it regardless of who won the starting job. With Vick under center, though, expect plenty of inside and outside zone-read plays.
Even at the age of 33, he's likely the fastest starting quarterback in the NFL. Speed isn't a necessity for running the read-option, but it helps. Being a little bit faster than Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson could benefit Vick a lot here.
We don't have a slew of great examples from the limited sample size available thus far in the preseason, but the moment a guy with Vick's speed can get a pass-rusher/blitzer to bite for the play-fake and become flat-footed, the offense gains a huge advantage. We see that here with Brandon Spikes (in red), who overcommits when Vick looks to be handing off.
3. More passing, less running
This hasn't always been Vick's approach, but he'll have no choice in Kelly's offense. They want a quarterback who can run if need be, not a running back who can throw. Vick seems to realize this. In the play above, he opted to throw before hitting the line of scrimmage.
The same thing happened against the Panthers Thursday:
Midway through the preseason, Vick has run less often and for fewer yards than Foles. He's really only running when the protection has broken down and he's exhausted his progressions, which is refreshing.
Of course, the offense as a whole might run more and pass less. The difference is that McCoy and Bryce Brown will likely see plenty of work. At Oregon, Kelly ran more often than almost everyone in the country, and the backs have been getting plenty of work thus far in the preseason.
Watch for that to help Vick too. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg simply didn't mix it up enough, especially in pressure situations. The balance could be a game-changer.
Vick has only been sacked once this preseason, and that took place in only 3.7 seconds as rookie Lane Johnson was rocked by his man. It wasn't the veteran quarterback's fault. His only turnover came when he was trying to force something at the end of the first half against the Panthers.
If the tempo can remain high and mistakes can be limited going forward, the Eagles could do some real damage this season.
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