Chip Kelly was handed what on paper would appear to be a relatively barren cupboard following a 4-12 season a year ago. There are no excuses with the Philadelphia Eagles, however, so the former Oregon guru with his random photos on the sidelines will need to figure out the mess that was in Philly and turn it into something functional in a hurry if he wants to stick around long. In order to endear himself to the harshest fans on the planet the offensive guru will have to answer several questions in the upcoming season, but his standing in the fan base could hinge on one issue in particular that must be decided before the regular season begins.
Perhaps the best kept secret up to this point is who will be the starting quarterback for the Eagles when Week 1 arrives. Kelly has been adamant that the competition is open to any and all comers – yes, even you Dennis Dixon – and the race to the starting gig remains up in the air.
To this point most would agree that Michael Vick has outplayed his competitors in Nick Foles and Matt Barkley in the preseason. Add that to his seemingly ideal fit into an uptempo Kelly attack and you get what on the surface looks like a relatively easy decision.
Not so fast, my friend.
Vick is only signed to a one-year deal after the restructuring that the Eagles worked out with him during the offseason. His future at 32 years of age isn’t long in the NFL, and a new coach might prefer to have a guy he can hitch his wagon to for the long-term rather than just a stopgap solution.
Foles may be the most proven of the remaining options, but he is a bit of an enigma himself after just six games of work a year ago and not much better numbers than Vick under center. At 6-foot-6, 243-pounds he would appear too lumbering for Kelly’s desired style of signal caller as well.
And then we arrive at Barkley who was once projected as a top 10 pick before sliding all the way to Philly in the fourth round in April. He was a Kelly draft choice and is just as wet behind the ears as the coach himself at the NFL level. Coaches tend to gravitate toward ‘their guy’ when they make it to the league, so perhaps Kelly leans toward the rookie and prepares for early growing pains with the promise of a rewarding tomorrow.
The competition still appears to be wide open as Kelly has reportedly had all three guys running with the first-team offense in practices. What isn’t undecided is the fact that this will be the most crucial decision of Kelly’s first season in Philadelphia and could ultimately be the biggest choice of his coaching career.
No pressure, Chip.