It was only one 11-on-11 full team drill, but it showcased the stark contrast that is beginning to develop in the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback derby. The tempo of the offense is vastly different depending on who is under center.
Late in Monday’s practice at the Novacare Complex, Chip Kelly ran his team through a mock game hurry-up situation in the red zone, and as usual alternated quarterbacks.
Nick Foles was the first quarterback out there with the top offensive unit, and started the drive at the 20-yard line. Following a completion to Jason Avant in the flat and a reception along the sidelines by DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ offense was in a first-and-goal position from the four-yard line. Three plays later, Chris Polk capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge.
One thing Foles accomplished that none of the other quarterbacks were able to was leading the offense on a scoring drive during this period.
It also became glaringly obvious that the offense ran at a much quicker tempo when Foles was under center than when Michael Vick was. That could be attributed to different aspects of the offense being installed, but it has been a trend that the offense runs at its most efficient pace when Foles is in there.
“We’re just trying to set a great tempo,” Foles explained after practice. “Everyone’s trying to get a tempo going. I’m just playing my game, trying to move the ball and be successful on each play, and that’s just the tempo I’m used to.”
It was a rough day for Vick, who threw behind wide receiver on a second-down during the full team hurry up period, overthrew Jackson by about 10 yards during seven-on-seven, and even hit the human flyswatters again.
Matt Barkley, it’s worth noting, took reps with the first-team during an early 11-on-11 period Monday for the first time all camp.
While it’s only one practice and it’s difficult to make a judgement call on whether not any of the quarterbacks have taken a lead in this competition, Foles certainly has an opportunity to assert himself when he makes the start in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field.
The second-year Arizona product isn’t looking at it that way, however.
“I’m just going out there to play,” Foles said. “I’m not trying to put anymore pressure on [the start]. I’m excited to play the Panthers and I’m excited to get out there with my teammates and go play.”
In Friday night’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots, Kelly had Foles running the offense at an uptempo, no-huddle pace while Vick’s series were more traditional in nature, with huddles between each play. It certainly will be interesting to see how the offense is designed against the Panthers on Friday night.
One thing is clear though: Foles has proven any doubters wrong about his ability to run the hurry-up offense so far in camp.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.