Prognosticators believe Chip Kelly’s spread offense from Oregon won’t work in the NFL. The spread offense will be mixed in with the west coast scheme in Philadelphia. Pat Shurmur was added as offensive coordinator to assist Kelly in his transition to the NFL. Kelly will certainly run the ball more than Andy Reid. One of the major criticisms of Reid was that he didn’t run the ball enough.
The offensive line play was the major downfall of the 2012 Eagles. The rushing attack suffered as a result. The Eagles were 13th in the NFL in rushing with 1,874 yards and 10 TD along with 37 fumbles. LeSean McCoy missed 4 games last season and only rushed for 2 TD. Shady ran for 17 scores in 2011. Bryce Brown burst onto the scene with a 178 yard 2 TD performance vs. the Panthers and a 169 yard 2 TD performance against the Cowboys. Brown also struggled to hold onto the ball fumbling 4 times.
Vick also suffered from insufficient offensive line play. Even legendary O-line coach Howard Mudd couldn’t coach up the cast of characters the Eagles had along the line last season. The Eagles finished the season with 4 offensive linemen on IR. Many others missed time along the way last season. Vick took a beating in part to the make-shift lines. Theoretically if Kelly, Shumur, and O-line coach Jeff Stoutland can fix the offensive line, veteran skill position players should be able to return to glory.
Kelly wants his QB to get rid of the ball fast which isn’t Michael Vick’s strong suit. Accuracy and decision making are also very important in Kelly’s offense. Unfortunately those are aspects of the game Vick has struggled with during his NFL career. What Vick brings to the table is escapability and arm strength. Vick is better off being able to use his physical skills to make plays. Vick is a double edge sword because for as many plays as he makes with his athleticism, it also leads to turnovers. Vick has fumbled 10 or more times in each of the last 3 seasons. His inconsistency puts a lot of pressure on the defense to keep the team in games.
Nick Foles decision making was questionable at times last season, but he did complete 60.8 % of his passes. Foles threw 6 TD and 5 INT in 7 games. Foles had a pair of 300 yard games vs. the Bucs (381 yards) and Redskins (345 yards). Don’t put too much stock into those performances as the Bucs ranked 32nd and the Redskins 30th in pass defense last season. Foles has more physical talents than Matt Barkley. I’m surprised the Chiefs didn’t acquire Foles instead of Alex Smith.
Matt Barkley would have been a high 1st round pick if he came out of college as a junior. Returning to USC cost Barkley a lot of money on his rookie contract. Barkley makes good decisions with the football and is accurate on shorter routes. Time will tell if his perceived lack of athleticism and arm strength will limit his NFL ceiling. The Eagles traded up in the 4th rd to get Barkley so they must have seen enough that they liked. Barkley’s decision making may be the best out of the trio. This could be a red-shirt year for Barkley to get accustomed to the speed of the NFL.
How Kelly adapts his system to the NFL will be one of the more intriguing stories this season. I believe Michael Vick will be the starter this season because he gives the Eagles the best chance to win games. Kelly and Shurmur are going to have to figure out a way to maximize Vick’s talents and limit or live with the potential damage. My belief is Vick will have to fall on his face to lose the job in training camp. Fantasy owners should look to take Vick as a QB2 with upside. Dynasty league owners should pay attention to the camp battle to figure out which young QB to take a flier on this season.