Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis
Last year's offseason was dominated by an intense battle between Nick Foles and Michael Vick for the starting quarterback position. This year, there will be no such controversy. Nick Foles will all but certainly be the 2014 starter.
The battle instead will be focused on the backup quarterback position, where veteran Mark Sanchez and college superstar Matt Barkley will compete for the second depth chart spot. Also, while he is likely a long shot to make the roster, don't count out G.J. Kinne as a dark horse candidate to emerge in the battle.
As the quarterback is the most important position on the roster, the position is always intriguing, even when the starter is already determined. Here are a few things to keep in mind for each of Philly's four signal-callers.
1. Nick Foles
Any nervous Eagles fans who feared Mark Sanchez could challenge Foles for the starting gig can rest easy. So far in OTAs, it looks like Foles is clearly the quarterback going forward. According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, he not only is receiving the majority of the first team reps but he is also the clear best player in terms of accuracy and poise.
A lot can change come training camp, but it looks like Foles earned the job for good last season. What will be interesting will be seeing how Kelly molds the offense around his skill set. Last year, Kelly made adjustments with Foles under center to better suit a pocket passer. But he still left some Vick plays in there, where Foles was called upon to scramble for first downs.
That worked for much of the season, but, toward the end of the year, defenses caught on to it. After all, how hard can it be to catch a guy who runs a 5.14 40-yard dash?
Will the designed runs stick around? It's hard to imagine that's sustainable, but it certainly had its successes in 2013. Perhaps Kelly will use more quick screens and two tight end sets to take advantage of Foles' accuracy. Only time will tell.
Training camp can't get here fast enough.
2. Mark Sanchez
According to Kempski, it looks like Sanchez is taking the majority of the second-team reps for now. It's not an equal split of reps, like Vick and Foles had in 2013.
Chip Kelly called the signing of Sanchez a "no brainer." Say what you will about Sanchez, but he should make for a very interesting backup for the birds.
Kelly gushed over Sanchez's experience, having started 68 games and led the Jets to two deep playoff runs, as well as his underrated athleticism. Foles has not exactly been completely healthy, having suffered a concussion already. If he were to miss time, having Sanchez to hold the reigns might not be the worst option.
With Sanchez's improvisational ability, and if he were to assume more of a game manager type role, he could certainly win a handful of games in Foles' absence.
Sanchez recently called the Eagles the "best place [he] could have landed" according to Kimberly Martin of Newsday. Hopefully, that goes for the Eagles too.
3. Matt Barkley
There's no sugar-coating Barkley's play with the Eagles so far. In 2013, while filling in for Foles and Vick, he stunk up the joint.
True, Barkley was just a rookie. He hardly had any reps with the first team, he was sort of set up to fail. But, then again, Barkley was hailed as a polished NFL-ready signal-caller who unfairly fell from the first to the fourth round. He did not show any of the poise and promise that fans were promised in those games.
Still, Barkley has a ton of potential. In college, he made up for a lack of arm strength with impressive accuracy and pocket awareness. Matt Hasselbeck, Drew Brees, and Chad Pennington are all quarterbacks who have succeeded in the NFL without good arm strength.
If Barkley can limit the turnovers and improve his knowledge of the Eagles offense, he can still carve out a future for himself in the NFL.
4. G.J. Kinne
Don't count G.J. Kinne out just yet. He may seem like by far the weakest quarterback on the roster, but his skills convinced the Eagles to give him a spot on the practice squad in 2013.
Kinne has many skills that could translate to Kelly's offense. He is a great athlete, running a 4.59 40 time, and displays great arm strength. Last training camp, the Eagles used him in a variety of designed running plays during practice.
If Kelly wants to retain a mobile quarterback on the roster, Kinne is by far the most athletic one he has. Kinne needs to improve his accuracy, but if he can show improvement this offseason, he could convince Kelly to retain four quarterbacks or to even challenge Sanchez or Barkley for the third-string spot.
It's a long shot, but never say never. After all, Trent Edwards, of all players, managed to beat out the heavily favored Mike Kafka in 2012 for third-string quarterback.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR
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