Heres all we know about Chip Kellys plans at quarterback: Hell have one.Who will it be? Is he currently on the roster? Will he have to be a running QB or can he be a classic drop-back passer? Young guy? Old guy? Fast guy? Slow guy?Not a clue.Kelly, in his first full day as head coach of the Eagles, spoke at length Thursday about the quarterback position but only in general terms. He said its way too early to speculate about the future of Michael Vick and Nick Foles, but he did say there are a lot of misconceptions about the quarterback position in his high-powered spread offense.He doesnt have to be a crazy scrambler. Hes not going to carry the ball 20 times a game. He doesnt need to be the next RG3 or Colin Kaepernick.
He just needs to be good.Theres perception vs. reality, Kelly said. My quarterback last year at Oregon, Darren Thomas, who is up in the CFL, we played in 14 games, he ran for 200 yards. Everybody is like, Well, you run a running offense. Well, look at the statistics, its not that. We dont run designed quarterback runs or were snapping the ball to him and then running quarterback power.Two years ago we played Collin Klein of Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl game. The year before, Collin Klein carried the ball 317 times and Oregon running back LaMichael James carried it 271. Theyre snapping the ball and hes running. Tim Tebow, theyre snapping the ball, hes running counter, hes running power, its direct-snap stuff.Ive never been that way. Weve run zone-read concepts, man-read concepts, where its a mathematical game. If there is an extra defender in the box, your quarterback can read him and by controlling him and reading him he is basically blocking him.
Dont forget, it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick who reached out to Kelly recently to learn about his offensive concepts. Belichicks quarterback, obviously, is no RG3.
So its all about finding a talented quarterback, not necessarily a mobile, athletic one.
What Bill does in New England with Tom Brady is not a spread-option offense, he said. If someone tried to make Tommy run the zone-read, I think hed get fired, to be honest with you. You need him to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball because hes one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks ever.
Its about what tools do we have in our toolbox and what tools can we use based on the players that we have. I think what Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco and Pete Carroll did in Seattle is that they identified the strengths they had in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, and they played to them.
Mike Shanahan did the same thing with RG3, played to his strengths. Its no different than what the Colts did with Andrew Luck and what Denver is doing with Peyton Manning and what the Patriots did with Tom Brady. Any great coach identifies what their personnel is and puts them in positions to be successful. You have a wide variety of talent at the quarterback spot.The Eagles have three quarterbacks under contract -- Michael Vick, their starter for most of the last three seasons; Nick Foles, who started the last six games last year; and veteran Trent Edwards.Kelly is most familiar with Foles, who threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon in 2011 while he was a junior at Arizona.Im a huge fan of his, Kelly said. Hes tough.I think a lot of people dont understand how hard it is and what toughness means to the quarterback spot. To just be able to stand in the pocket and throw the football is tough. We hit him as many times as we could hit him and he just kept getting up and making plays.
He completed a 13-yard pass left-handed against us once and I remember just standing on the sideline shaking my head saying, What do we have to do to stop him? Hes a competitor, hes accurate, so Im excited about that.
That said, Kelly made it clear that everybody on the roster -- at quarterback and at every position -- starts out even.
I want to take a look at all of our personnel and try to make an opinion of what I think of them after seeing them on tape, he said. I dont have any preconceived notions because I dont think thats the way to go about it.
Im going to look at everybody. If you can throw the ball and run, Im going to take you out there.Ive followed Michaels career and I understand what a talent he is.
But there is nothing thats on the board right now, theres nothing thats off the board right now. Our sole focus and goal is that were going to put an offense on the field thats going to score points. Thats basically what were going to do and whoever that is, I dont know that.
Vick is due 15.5 million in base salary in 2013, with base salaries in future years of 12.5 million in 2014 and 14.5 million in 2015.But the Eagles can release him immediately after the Super Bowl and owe him nothing, absorbing only a 4.2 million salary cap hit.General manager Howie Roseman said he and Kelly havent yet discussed how to handle that. Theyll have until Feb. 6 -- three days after the Super Bowl -- to make a decision.Its pretty obvious that there is a first decision to make, Roseman said. We do have time to make that. No decisions have been made about any person on the roster. We did not tell any coach that we could or could not do anything about anybody on the roster.Surprisingly, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said the question of how to handle the quarterback position really wasnt an issue when the Eagles interviewed Kelly -- or the other candidates.
Theyre thinking long-term, so its not about whos the quarterback in 2013, its about how best to move forward for the next 12 or 15 years and have the greatest chance to win a championship.No candidate was prepared to make that decision because they hadnt studied it enough, he said. I think these coaches for the most part see a much longer-term situation, and theyre not judging where you are at at the exact moment.Theyre trying to assess where they want to be with their football team down the road. And you dont know what course thats going to take. Its impossible to know.So it wasnt a short-term decision these coaches were making. It was really what kind of football team they want. Nowadays, as I said, theres a chance every year to find quarterbacks that can be successful fairly quickly. Thats good for the league.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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