Chip Kelly’s Quarterback Situation in Philadelphia

Story posted February 28, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports, NFL Draft by Tyler Zulli

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When the Philadelphia Eagles announced last month that Chip Kelly would be the team's 21st head coach, a collective groan could be heard throughout the Delaware Valley from fans of second year quarterback Nick Foles. Pocket mobility was a huge part of Kelly's offense at Oregon and was imperative to the success of his offensive system. Foles is a lot of things, but mobile is not one of them.

With the idea that mobility would be important for the Eagles' quarterback of the future, it would make sense that Foles would be an odd man out. But Kelly has insisted that there will be an open competition between Foles, Michael Vick and the recently acquired Dennis Dixon. 

So what are fans to make of the situation in Philadelphia? Should the Eagles' next quarterback be required to be fast? Do other talents fit into the system? And what can we make of the move to acquire Dixon? These questions will be brought to the foreground as the offseason progresses and Kelly has time to evaluate how the candidates fit into his scheme.

For now, here is a breakdown of where we are with the Eagles' three quarterbacks, and who is the early favorite to be under center in week one. 

Nick Foles

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While there are reasons that Foles was not selected until the third round in the 2012 NFL Draft, there are also reasons he started six games as a rookie. Foles has a strong arm that can unleash some big throws, and he already showed significant progress from his first appearance against Dallas and his last start against Washington.

At this stage in his young career, Foles has shown some accuracy and plenty of potential to improve there. He completed 61 percent of his passes in 2012. His biggest asset, however, may be his size. At 6-foot-6, Foles sees the field very well and is tough to tackle, despite his lack of mobility.

While his decision-making, just like his overall gameplay, improved from week-to-week in 2012, it is still at this point a liability for him. Many young quarterbacks, especially gunslingers like Foles, go through struggles adjusting to the speed of the game early in their careers. What remains to be seen is whether he will fully be able to adjust. 

The biggest knock on Foles is his lack of speed. While Kelly's offense is not a read-option that requires a great running quarterback, it still requires enough speed to keep the defense honest. Foles will likely never have that element in his game, and it could be the difference maker for him in the first true quarterback battle at Eagles camp since 1999.

Michael Vick

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The first thing you think of when you think of Michael Vick is speed, and it's easily the most important asset in his arsenal. Even at age 33, Vick is at his best when defenses are using resources to keep him from running wild. His ability to evade defenders and extend plays is the main reason he has had success in the NFL.

Vick also has a strong arm and the ability to make throws on the run and out of the pocket without losing velocity. While accuracy has always been an issue, the deep ball is always in play with Vick, and a team built around deep threats like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin benefits from a quarterback who can make those vertical throws.

One of the main problems with Vick's constant running is his frailty. Vick has only played a full season once in his entire career, none of them with the Eagles. His scrambling style makes him a target for both linebackers and safeties.

But arguably the biggest issue with Vick's game is his decision making. His ability to extend the play is a blessing and a curse, as it often leads to turnovers. As an established veteran, it's hard to argue he will ever shake these habits. Too many mistakes too often killed the Eagles early in the 2012 season, and Vick was a big part of the problem. Only Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has fumbled the ball more in the last three seasons than Vick, and Vick has missed plenty of games during that time.

Dennis Dixon

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Dixon's signing earlier this month immediately brought up comparisons to Doug Pederson, the quarterback Andy Reid brought with him in 1999 to teach the offense to the rest of the quarterbacks. While Dixon was certainly brought in because of his familiarity with Kelly and his system, he has some talent. He is quick, athletic and can throw the ball on the run like Vick. 

The downside for Dixon is his lack of experience at the NFL level. He has only attempted 59 passes in the NFL during his stint as a backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like Vick, he also has a habit of trying to do too much and exposing himself to defenders. He is not as accurate as Foles, and is more similar to Vick. He'll enter camp as the third stringer, but could surprise if he is a better fit than Foles or Vick. 

Who Starts?

Although Oregon's offense was successful with a mobile quarterback, I do not think Vick nor Dixon will emerge as the starter for Philadelphia. Foles is, at this point, the most talented quarterback on the, and talent should trump system any day. He has areas in which he needs to improve and some limitations, but a lot of potential as a second year quarterback. Vick will certainly challenge for the job and Dixon could certainly still surprise, but in the end, Foles must be the quarterback for the franchise to move forward under Chip Kelly.

Tyler Zulli is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email