Chip Kelly will eventually have to make the decision that will define his career as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Who will be the quarterback he will hitch his wagon to and either ride to a championship or ride to obscurity with?
In Michael Vick he has a 33 year old QB who can’t stay healthy and is, at best, a roller coaster ride kind of player. Nick Foles couldn’t beat out Vick in the summer and played horribly in a game where he could have possibly seized the starting job as well as put the Eagles on top in the division.
Matt Barkley is a fourth-round rookie and has more questions than a Trivial Pursuit game.
Before the season began, I wrote that Kelly is playing with “house money” this year in rolling with Vick. The 2013 draft wasn’t a good one for quarterbacks and Kelly himself stated during the offseason that he had to “consider the landscape” of available quarterbacks when deciding to restructure Vick.
However, that house money is only good for one season. By the end of this season he will need to decide if he’s going to live or die with Vick, commit to Foles, take a chance on Barkley or do whatever needs to be done to secure a blue-chip QB prospect in the 2014 draft.
With the Eagles at 3-4 and their three wins coming against teams that are a combined 3-17, it’s time to start being realistic about things. They need to start thinking about the future and they have an extremely messy situation at the game’s most important position.
I realize they are still in the mix for a division championship and a playoff spot, but Dallas is probably the better team and I’m not so sure the Eagles wouldn’t be worse-off if they do make the playoffs.
The problem with staying the course with Vick for the rest of this season as well as possibly next season is that, simply put, it’s extremely unlikely he will lead this team to a championship.
Therefore, why continue to waste time?
Vick is the QB on this team that gives them the best chance of winning right now, no question. But, do you essentially waste the rest of this season by sticking with a QB on which you have 11 years of historical data?
Or, would the final nine games be better served in finding out if our QB of the future is on the roster or not?
Even though my heart wants the Eagles to win and give this season some excitement by making the playoffs, my head tells me that this team has no shot and we should just use the remainder of this year to assess Foles and Barkley.
It would be the best course of action when looking at the big picture for this franchise.
That way, Chip and the Eagles can make an informed decision as to what the plan of attack will be come the offseason. If Foles or Barkley show promise, then fixing the defense is the top priority followed by adding a piece or two to the offense.
If neither guy shows promise, then finding a quarterback with their first round draft pick takes center stage.
What stinks is, if Vick plays the rest of the year, then we’ll be left wondering if Foles or Barkley can be the guy for the future. The last thing I want is to enter the 2014 season with questions and uncertainty at the QB position.
It seems we had this same dilemma last year and Andy Reid chose to see what he had in Foles. If Reid had remained coach, Vick likely would have been gone and Foles would be the unquestioned starter this year (not that we’d be in any better position, though).
Now we’re stuck in the same pattern with Kelly and he is faced with the same decision. The big difference is that Foles just put up a serious clunker, Vick hasn’t been “that bad” and they’re still in the mix for the division.
So, we’ll likely see Chip go with Vick until he either gets injured again or they’re mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Unfortunately, all of this points to the ever frustrating position of not being good enough to be serious contenders, but also not being bad enough to be in the “race” for a top-five pick in the draft.
And make no mistake, to have the best chance at finding your next franchise QB, you need to be able to land a top prospect in the draft. In other words, they need to draft a first-round caliber talent.
No more of the Kevin Kolbs or Nick Foles’ in the second or third rounds. They will need a bonafide first round quarterback.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of first-round QB busts. But, the odds of finding that franchise guy significantly diminish after the first round.
In the past 20 years, there have been 14 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Of those 14 guys, nine were drafted in the first round. Of the 32 starting QBs in the league this year, 20 were drafted in round one. Of the top-10 stats leaders, seven were drafted in the first as well.
Disregarding the 2013 draft (because it’s too soon to judge), out of the previous 17 drafts since 1996, there have been a grand total of 41 quarterbacks taken in round one and 40 taken in either the second or third round.
Going by my unbiased, yet subjective opinion, out of those 41 first rounders, 24 have been either disappointments or flat-out busts while 17 have been either decent starters or franchise guys. Also, five of them have won a Super Bowl.
Of the 40 QBs taken in rounds two and three, there are maybe five that have played (or are currently playing) at a level I’d be comfortable with as my starting quarterback. And only one has won a Super Bowl (Drew Brees).
Therefore, statistically speaking, there has been roughly a 41% success rate (17 out of 41) for first round QBs versus a roughly 12.5% success rate of second and third rounders (5 out of 40).
This may have been a long way to go to state the obvious, but if we as fans want hope for the future, we need to draft a quarterback in the first round and hope he falls within that 41% range.
I’d rather take a swing and a miss than go from year to year struggling to find a half decent QB. Remember that era of Eagles football in between Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb? All of those years of mediocrity and struggles were due in large part to the lack of stability at the QB position.
Vick could be the next Rodney Peete, Foles could be the next Ty Detmer and Barkley could be the next Bobby Hoying.
Is that what we want? Hell to the no! If it meant suffering through another losing season to get the next franchise QB, I’d rather do that than try to perpetually fix the QB position with bandaids and Ace bandages.
Chip has the biggest decision of his young NFL career looming in the not-too-distant future. I hope he makes the right choice.
Oh, in case you were interested, here are the lists of QBs I was looking at to base my evaluation on as well as determine my above percentages. I’ve bolded the guys in each list that I consider at least quality starters
Perhaps you disagree? Let me know!
1996 – 2012 drafts – 1st Round QBs:
Second and third-rounders:
Tony Banks – 2nd
Bobby Hoying – 3rd
Jake Plummer – 2nd
Charlie Batch – 2nd
Jonathan Quinn – 3rd
Brian Griese – 3rd
Shaun King – 2nd
Brock Huard – 3rd
Giovanni Carmazzi – 3rd
Chris Redman – 3rd
Drew Brees – 2nd
Quincy Carter – 2nd
Marques Tuiasosopo – 2nd
Josh McCown – 3rd
Dave Ragone – 3rd
Chris Simms- 3rd
Matt Schaub – 3rd
Charlie Frye – 3rd
Andrew Walter – 3rd
David Greene – 3rd
Kellen Clemens – 2nd
Tarvaris Jackson – 2nd
Charlie Whitehurst – 3rd
Brodie Croyle – 3rd
Kevin Kolb – 2nd
John Beck – 2nd
Drew Stanton – 2nd
Trent Edwards – 3rd
Brian Brohm – 2nd
Chad Henne – 2nd
Kevin O’Connell – 3rd
Pat White – 2nd
Jimmy Clausen – 2nd
Colt McCoy – 3rd
Andy Dalton – 2nd
Colin Kaepernick – 2nd
Ryan Mallett – 3rd
Brock Osweiller – 2nd
Russell Wilson – 3rd
Nick Foles – 3rd
Dalton and Kaepernick are debatable and I just couldn’t choose both.