Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Competition: No End In Sight
- Howard Smith – USA Today Sports
Chip Kelly will have the final say in who lines up under center on Sept. 9 when the Philadelphia Eagles travel to our nation’s capital to square off with the Washington Redskins. However, he isn’t likely to make that call anytime soon.
Nick Foles and Michael Vick are embroiled in a battle for the team’s top job, and both have been splitting practice reps with the first team during OTAs. Meanwhile, Matt Barkley is still in the mix both to start this season and potentially as the long-term answer for this team along with Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne also being on the roster.
“It’s always best when it plays out on the field,” Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor told the assembled media Thursday at the Novacare Complex. “When it plays out on the field, everyone sees it. Not everyone always agrees, but it plays out. It could happen as we go through these OTAs. And if it doesn’t, eventually it’s going to. And if it’s not real clear, the boss will make it clear.”
Kelly outlined the determining factors of what he looks for in a quarterback when he was hired in January, and Lazor echoed that sentiment Thursday.
“We’re very far away from calling our first competitive play,” Lazor said. “When it gets to that point, Chip is going to handle it the right way. For me, now, it’s a lot smaller picture than that. I’m just dealing with them being accurate on the throws and them making great decisions.”
Accuracy and making great decisions have long been question marks in Vick’s game, but Lazor praised the soon to be 33-year-old for his renewed mindset this spring.
“He approaches work every single day like someone who wants to be better, wants to maximize what he’s doing,” Lazor said. “He’s really been a lot of fun to be around.”
Last season Vick completed just 58 percent of his passes for 2,362 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The incumbent starter a year ago is in a daily battle for his job with Foles, who finished last season as the only rookie quarterback in NFL history to complete over 60 percent of his passes and average over 240 yards passing per game.
The challenge for Foles will be how does the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Arizona product show enough athleticism to keep defenses honest in read-option situations under Kelly’s offense?
Lazor went out of his way to say that he believes after studying Foles on film that he can put it all together.
“Nick is a very confident player,” Lazor explained. “Who looked calm and poised out there, especially for a rookie.”
In Barkley, whom the Eagles chose in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft, Lazor sees the type of player that can develop into a franchise quarterback down the line.
“I think Matt comes in with exactly the right attitude,” Lazor said. “I didn’t expect anything less. Matt is a quarterback. It’s easy to see why he’s had so much success in his career, from high school all the way through college. He understands how to play the position. He carries himself like a quarterback should on the field. He’s a leader. He demands respect. He works extremely hard. He puts in a lot of hours. He’s accurate. He can handle things happening quickly on the field and react to them and make quick decisions.”
“He’s shown, so far, that he can learn and apply classroom knowledge to what he does on the practice field, which is a great trait for a quarterback. He’s athletic. He can throw the ball accurately on the move. These were all things that we suspected, and that’s why we took him.”
There is no position in Philadelphia more scrutinized than the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, before fans can put one starter under the microscope it appears the gauntlet of competition under the watchful eye of Kelly and the coaching staff will continue for quite some time.
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*All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.