To date, I’ve avoided most coaching discussion, especially when it comes to comparing candidates. The fact is, the only people who can begin to have an educated opinion on that subject are those who personally know each candidate.
Needless to say, I don’t have that knowledge, and neither to almost all of the sports writers who have been profiling the coaches. Ignore everything you hear about who made the best hire…nobody in the press has any real knowledge of how each new coach will do.
However, now that a new coach has been found, we can talk a little about what it means for the team.
Immediately after Chip Kelly was hired, the discussion turned towards the QB situation. For some reason (likely the need for a column topic), many commentators seem to believe that this somehow complicates the Eagles QB options. It doesn’t.
– Michael Vick will NOT be the Eagles QB next year. Much is being made of Kelly’s desire for mobile QBs, particularly those that can run an option-based scheme. Those making this argument then jump to “Vick is a good runner so maybe Kelly will want him”. This jump ignores a few aspects that each preclude Vick from being a “Chip Kelly” QB:
Vick takes a lot of sacks and has very poor pocket awareness.
Vick is one of the least accurate QBs in the league.
Vick turns the ball over a relatively high rate.
Ignoring Vick’s contract situation and age, I am confident that Kelly will review game tape of Vick and decide that he isn’t the guy to go with. Anyone suggesting otherwise is, in my opinion, struggling to come up with things to talk about.
– This is NOT the end of Nick Foles. While I don’t know how Kelly will adapt his offensive system in the NFL, my guess is that it will be a balanced (run-pass) but very fast paced scheme, much like the NE Patriots run.
People think of New England as a Pass-Heavy offense; this year they ranked 4th in the league in passing yards. However, the Patriots also ranked 7th in the league in rushing yards.
Also note that Tom Brady is one of the slowest QBs in the league and does not contribute anything significant to that rushing rank. Yet, Brady is a perfect QB for that system because he:
– is very accurate with the ball and almost never throws an interception. His 2.1% interception rate is the second lowest EVER. (Aaron Rodgers is 1st with a ridiculous 1.7% rate.)
– makes good decisions quickly, rarely forcing anything and consistently making the optimal read.
– has limited mobility but excellent pocket awareness, with a sack rate of just 4.84% (20th all-time).
While Nick Foles is obviously not as good as Tom Brady, he has a similar skill set. As such, there is no reason to believe he can’t run a fast-paced, balanced offensive system (which I believe Kelly will attempt). Also, with the RB talent that the Eagles have, I’m hopeful that Kelly will be able to construct a playbook that takes a lot of the pressure away from Foles. I think there is a strong chance that Kelly reviews Foles’ performance this year and decides to make a go of it with him.
– Root for Geno Smith…but not for that reason. Geno Smith has also begun to gain some traction with Eagles’ writers. Fortunately, by now most have dispelled the notion that Smith is a “running” QB. He isn’t, although his race appears to be obscuring that fact for some. However, he is very accurate, and has the size/athleticism/reputation that NFL teams love. Therefore, with strong pre-draft workouts or a good combine performance, he has the potential to move up draft boards. If he gets taken in the top 3, that means the Eagles have an excellent chance to get one of the two best fits for the team (Joeckel and Lotulelei, IMO). Without a QB moving into the top 3, it gets a bit dicey and, as currently projected, there’s probably even odds that both Joeckel and Lotulelei are gone by #4.
If the current rumors regarding a move to a 3-4 defense are true, then missing out on both Lotulelei (the NT we’d need to run that scheme) and Joeckel would be a terrible outcome (fit wise). Hopefully whoever the Eagles draft will be an impact player, but getting an impact player at a true position of need obviously will lead to a much quicker turnaround for the team.
So every Eagles fan should hope to see very positive Geno Smith stories between now and the draft. As it happens, Smith’s skill-set would appear to be a great match for Andy Reid’s system, and we all know that Reid started his last job by drafting a QB with a top 5 pick.
P.S. now that I’ve offered completely subjective opinions/predictions, I’m sure Kelly will trade Foles, sign Vick to a long-term deal, and draft Smith to be a wildcat specialist…