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Summing Up Eagles QB Race: Is Michael Vick His Own Worst Enemy?

So the OTAs and mini-camps are over and where do we stand so far in the competition for the Eagles starting Quarterback? Well I have been reading around to get some perspectives from the local media and beat writers in attendance watching the Eagles practice and came across Tommy Lawlor’s take over at IgglesBlitz.com. It had me wanting to shout from my rooftop here at my home in Maryland in hopes that the Eagles faithful back in Philly would hear me.

Tommy raised an excellent point that I felt needed to be reiterated and expanded on further. In his piece he talks about the starting QB job being Michael Vick’s to lose and that hands down, Vick is by far the most talented QB on the roster. You can’t even argue that point when you compare the QBs side-by-side listing their talents, but bare with me. He also mentions that Kelly is not looking for a guy to just throw in there because he is the most gifted player, but rather the best Quarterback at running the offense. This is where it gets interesting and we’ll dig a little bit deeper with that perspective in mind.

So let’s take a look at the Eagles quarterbacks and look at how they have fared in the competition so far…

Nick Foles

Given all of the reports, the consensus is that Nick Foles has come out in the early coming (yes, it’s still very early) as the leader of the pack. He’s been the most consistent of the bunch and has also had the best showing at grasping and running the offense. He’s also seen the most reps by all accounts I’ve read and also has taken the most reps with the first team offense. This time last year, Foles looked like a rookie and it’s clear that he is fairing much better in his second go-round with the team. I should also note that many have reported on a difference that can be seen on Foles’ intermediate and deep throws as compared to last year. The ball just seems to look crisper than previous, and to his credit you can tell that he has worked on this area over the off-season.

Michael Vick

Vick getting an earful from HC Chip Kelly (via philly.com).

“The Michael Vick Experiment,” as I like to call it, is in full swing as Chip Kelly takes his knocks at trying to mold Vick into a complete QB. I’ve already sounded off in regards to the challenges Vick faces due to his height, or should I say lack thereof. There is no doubt, as I said before, that Michael Vick is talented. He’s definitely an athletic specimen with a very lively arm. But for all of his talents, as Lawlor pointed out, there are also some deeply-entrenched flaws that Vick is going to have to overcome if he wants to remain on as the Eagles starter for 2013. These flaws are what keep Vick from becoming the complete package, and frankly at his age, the window of opportunity to turn those around is closing quickly.

Again, courtesy of the reports from those that have witnessed the practices, it seems as though Vick is still relying too heavily on his athletic ability to get by. He is still holding onto the ball too long and looking for the big play and taking sacks, he is still looking to improvise when the play breaks down and run instead of using his check downs, and when running he is still holding the ball as if he’s carrying a carton of eggs loosely away from his body and finally he is of course getting balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. This goes against everything that we believe Chip Kelly to value. He wants the QB to read the defense, make the adjustments, drop back and go through your options and deliver the ball. Why is this so important, you ask? Well let’s talk about the up-tempo offense a bit. An up-tempo offense is predicated on reducing the amount of time the defense has to adjust and exploit mismatches to put it simply. But if you are dropping back and waiting for the play to develop, you are also giving the defense time to key in on the play the longer you take in getting the ball out, thus minimizing your chances of success. Then if you’re having the ball batted down on top of it, you’ve just either wasted a down and opportunity to move the chains or turned the ball over. You’ve also given the opposing coaching staff a free peak at what you were trying to accomplish on the play and nothing to show for it. Chip Kelly’s brand of offense is based on maximizing your opportunities. Michael Vick needs to understand this and realize that no longer will he be able to just roll out and hit the receiver 30yds down field or play the waiting game for the defensive backs to be deep enough for him to then make an attempt at running the ball. That is just not going to fly under Chip Kelly. Vick needs to work on his fundamental skills and improve in these areas if he is going to have any legitimate chance at capturing the starting job.

Matt Barkley 

Barkley meeting with the media (via Delaware Online).

He certainly has not looked like a lost rookie or remotely like a 4th round draft choice. In his limited reps, he has shown the poise and intelligence that seem to be his trademarks and appears to be adjusting well to the NFL. While he hasn’t unseated neither Foles or Vick, he has shown some promise. I have to admit that Barkley is my favorite to earn the job. The realist in me tells me that may not happen this year, but I think the force is strong in this one, and he could surprise us all.

I’m not going to rate either Kinne or Dixon at this point. While they have not set the world on fire, from all accounts they haven’t done anything to hurt their chances at making the roster so far. Depending on how Vick pans out, both could stay on the team with one being 3rd string and the other on the practice squad. If Vick stays, they will be battling for a spot on the practice squad.

If I had to make a call right now, I’d say that Foles holds on and takes the starting job. If that happens, I see Vick either traded or released with Barkley assuming the back-up position and Kinne edges out Dixon for 3rd string, if they carry a third QB on the roster.

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Categories: Beat Writing, Eagles, Editorial

Author:Jerry Pomroy

Born & bred in Philly. Grew up in Fishtown, but lived all over the city. Philly sports nut, but always try to keep my opinions objective and honest...Never a homer. Love to push the envelope to get people thinking...

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