The Heat Is On For Philadelphia Eagles' Quarterbacks

By Matt Lombardo
Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

Fans and media have grown weary from waiting for Philadelphia Eagles rookie head coach Chip Kelly to finally name his No. 1 quarterback on his elusive depth chart; there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

But does anyone really have a clue of who is Chip’s Guy?  With the team’s top three quarterbacks (Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley) having all seen first team reps during offseason spring practices, Kelly’s favorite word, “competition”, has been truly apparent.

Despite most teams usually naming their starting quarterback — and perceived team leader — almost immediately at the start of OTAs and minicamps, the first-year head coach has remained steadfast in having an open competition for the starting job.

And judging from the tenor around the NovaCare Complex, which I have observed during my daily training camp visits this week, fans shouldn’t expect a starter to be named anytime soon.

“Our depth chart is written in sand”, Kelly joked on Tuesday after overseeing his first NFL training camp practice. The rookie head coach added, “Everybody has an opportunity to show us what their resume is, and your resume is what you put on tape every day.  If somebody continues to make plays and someone doesn’t make plays, that guy is going to move up and the other one’s going to move down.”

To some, conventional wisdom would say, after Vick re-signed on February 11, 2013 that the 12-year NFL veteran had only done so after receiving assurances from Kelly that he was indeed his starter.  However Vick recently acknowledged, in his Tuesday press conference, that he had not received any such promises and was fully aware of the “open” quarterback competition.

Vick added that he had returned to Philadelphia because it was the best situation for him.

“I felt like this was the best opportunity for me. I chose it regardless of what fate may be. I’m still going to compete and still be the best quarterback I can be.”

MV7’s current contract also could be a deciding factor for or against him being the frontrunner in the competition.  His deal is basically for one-year and has already paid him $3.5 million.  There are additional guarantees that could pay him up to $3.5 million, if he is on the roster for the season opener against the Washington Redskins on September 9.

However, nipping at Vick’s heels are Foles — 1-5 as starter in 2012 —  and 2013 fourth-round draft pick, Barkley, a former four-year college starter. But in Vick’s favor is that the pair has a combined seven games of NFL experience.

Throw in Nick Foles as well.  The confident second-year pro appeared in seven games last season, all of which occurred after the often-injured Vick missed playing time.  The former 2012 third-round pick has definitely piqued fans’ interest as he finished with 1,699 yards passing along with six touchdowns and five interceptions.

And don’t even think that he is backing down from fighting for the starting job.

“At the end of the day, I’m not here to be a backup”, Foles told a gaggle of reporters on Monday. “I’m here to be the guy. I don’t think we play this game to sit on the bench. We play it to play, and I’m here to play.”

Adding to the intrigue of this ongoing storyline is Barkley, who was handpicked by Kelly in April’s NFL draft. In his storied collegiate career he threw for 12,327 yards, 116 touchdowns and 48 interceptions. The Newport Beach, CA native made it clear upon arrival to his first NFL training camp on Monday that he’s here to compete for a starting job.

“Your mindset has to be that you’re in the race to start,” Barkley said. “You’ve got to have that mindset. I’m in a competition regardless of what everyone else is saying.”

The rookie added, “I couldn’t care less about what people are talking about. I don’t listen to that.. I feel like I’m part of that race, whether people are saying that or not.”

Eagles GM Howie Roseman recently made it clear, at his opening training camp presser, that he supports his rookie head coach’s edict of competition all over the team’s roster, including the quarterback position.

“We try to keep an open mind about everyone on our roster”, Roseman said. “You have to be open to surprises. You can’t just watch the tape looking for certain guys because you may miss something…. “(You want to see) not just the guys who are perceived to be part of the competition.”

Kelly will eventually tell us who his starting quarterback is.  But right now it looks like this competition doesn’t have an end in sight.

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