Who Will Quarterback The Eagles in 2013?BREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Chip Kelly was officially introduced as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday afternoon. Notoriously an offensive-minded coach, it is still a question as to who will quarterback the team in 2013. The spread offense is a fast-paced, innovative offense that has yet to be fully introduced to the NFL.
With a seemingly perfect quarterback for the spread offense, Michael Vick, on the roster, the Eagles may not have far to look for their 2013 quarterback. Chip Kelly’s offense can also make a few adaptations to fit the quarterback who currently sits atop the depth chart, Nick Foles.
A common misconception of the spread offense is that it is full of speed options and running plays. While it does rely heavily on these, it also utilizes the play-action and short, quick routes. At one play every 20.9 seconds, the object of the Chip Kelly offense is to call as many plays as possible and tire out the defense with its unrelenting pace.
One of the biggest problems people attributed to Michael Vick in 2012 was the length of time he held on to the ball. With an offensive line made up of spare parts, Vick needed to learn to pull the trigger quickly. While some plays Marty Mornhinweg called took time to develop, 99 percent of the Chip Kelly offense will require the quarterback to release the ball within 1 to 2 seconds, a welcomed change to the fans who watched at their TVs on Sundays screaming “Throw the ball! Get rid of it!”
The ball can be delivered to the receiver within two seconds of the snap of the ball but the spread offense calls for more than just a receiver who can catch the ball. Yards after the catch (YAC) are an important trait for receivers in a spread offense to possess. DeSean Jackson is still one of the fastest players in the league and can make anyone miss in the open field. Jeremy Maclin has been known to go down with little contact but can excel with a little green in front of him. The Rams showed a few years ago that a dinking and dunking offense can work to an extent but eventually it can sputter out; three and five yard completions don’t add up to much if receivers are tackled immediately and not tacking on those deadly YAC yards.
Another big aspect of the spread offense, which the Eagles have already excelled at, is the screen pass. Not only to the running back out of the backfield but to receivers and tight ends as well. The Eagles have long been a dangerous team when a player gets the ball in his hands behind the likes of Todd Herremans or Evan Mathis, a trend that they can continue with Chip Kelly.
From the sounds of it so far, Nick Foles should be able to run the spread offense as well, right? One of the biggest pieces of the spread offense is the speed option. A pretty predictable, but effective play that spreads the offense out to one side after the snap of the ball with the ball in the quarterback’s hand and a running back behind him to toss it to if need be. Designed quarterback draws are also popular in the spread offense. These two types of plays are the only aspects of a spread offense that Nick Foles could have trouble succeeding with. However, with great short and medium throw accuracy, the passing aspects of the offense would greatly suit Foles.
The happiest player of the whole move may be LeSean McCoy. Looking at the stats of running backs under Chip Kelly, it is hard for one of the best backs in the league to hold back the salivation when thinking of what he can produce. Kenjon Barner ran for 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns under Kelly in 2012 and in the three years previous, LaMichael James combined for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
It is unlikely that any NFL running back will consistently put up numbers like that but it is no doubt that a positive spike in LeSean McCoy’s production could be coming. Kelly’s spread offense will have to adapt to the NFL. Becoming more and more a passing league, the quick slants, curls, and over the top play action plays that are currently in the spread offense repertoire will likely be utilized more in the NFL than in the college ranks.
With a large pay cut, Michael Vick could lead the 2013 Eagles with little to no adaptations made to Chip Kelly’s offense. With some changes made to accommodate the more gifted passer on the team, Nick Foles could be the quarterback in 2013.
Of course, the quarterback may be an unknown third party. The free agency market for quarterbacks is barren and the draft doesn’t possess a quarterback worthy of a fourth overall pick. Trading back and drafting a player like Geno Smith may be in the cards for the Eagles but, as Chip Kelly said, there is still a lot of evaluating to do on the roster and he will put the right players in the right positions to succeed. That sure sounds like an Andy Reid type of statement but hopefully it isn’t changed during his post game press conferences to “I have to put my players in a better position to succeed.”
The Chip is in place and the questions are starting. Who is the quarterback? Who leads the defense? How will this offense fare in the NFL? Many more questions will be answered in the coming weeks and months. For now, let the speculation commence.
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