Michael Vick will be the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles on opening day in 2013. Sorry to end the suspense or ruin the surprise if you’ve been eagerly awaiting the much anticipated quarterback battle royale in training camp.
How can I make such a bold proclamation when it appears that there really is a full-fledged, honest-to-God open competition? And, Nick Foles is getting just as many repetitions with the first team as is Vick?
Well, obviously I’m not basing my opinion on performance in mini-camp nor do I think Vick is the best QB on the roster. Call it a mixture of rationale, logic and gut instinct.
When the Eagles decided to keep Vick and restructured his contract, Kelly made a comment at the time about having to consider the “landscape for other quarterbacks.” The logical reasoning for that comment was due to the fact there weren’t any other available quarterbacks who were clearly better than Vick.
That included Nick Foles as well as any potential free agent or draft pick.
Now they have Matt Barkley in the fold and Kelly wants to see what he has in Foles. Competition makes everyone better and if players truly think they’re fighting for a starting job, it should bring out the best in them.
With that said, Barkley is ultimately still a rookie fourth round pick and Foles is a second year player who has yet to establish himself. Foles showed some glimpses of potential last season but certainly not enough to secure a starting job.
In other words, they aren’t exactly killer competition for Vick to overcome.
Vick is a 12-year veteran and has had success in the NFL so he should be considered the favorite to win the job. Most coaches know what they’re going to do at the most important position in football upon taking over a team, particularly offensive-minded coaches.
Kelly surely had an opinion of Vick and Foles before even accepting the job. I believe Kelly when he says this is an open competition, but I also think he is planning on, and expecting, Vick to win the job.
The reasoning is simple: If Kelly can teach Vick to make some basic reads, he is the QB that will be able to run the zone read option offense the most effectively. We’ve all talked about what kind of offense Kelly will or will not run here, but if he can run the zone read, that will be his first choice.
I think Kelly has done a masterful job at keeping everyone guessing about what kind of offense they’ll be running in 2013. But, when the curtain is drawn this summer, I think we’ll be seeing mainly a zone read offense with Vick at the helm, and then a ”backup offense” with Foles and Barkley at the helm.
If Vick proves he can run Chip’s preferred offense at least “good enough”, he will choose him initially because he’ll want to run the style of offense he is most accustomed to. I mean, why wouldn’t Kelly at least take a shot to see if Vick can do it?
Kelly will get a free pass this year because of all the transition so he’s playing with house money by giving Vick the initial shot. He would have Foles as a capable backup and if both guys fail, he can write them off as “not his guys” and would then begin the transition to Barkley and build from there.
Kelly is really in a no-lose situation with Vick. If Vick fails, it’s because Vick just isn’t good anymore. If he can’t run the zone read, which would be the best type of offense suited for his skills, his days as a starting NFL QB would be over.
In other words, if he can’t succeed under Kelly, he won’t succeed under anyone anymore.
On the flip side, if Vick succeeds in Kelly’s offense, then Kelly looks like a genius because he was able to get out of Vick what nobody else could, including the great Andy Reid.
With all of that said, do not take me as someone who wants this to happen or thinks Vick is the future of this franchise. Remember, I’m saying that Vick will be the opening day starter.
This is how I actually see the situation playing out in 2013…
Vick is the season-opening starter. As with every other year in his career sans one season, Vick will get injured. When that happens (and yes, it’s when, not if), the next decision will be based on the following…
How many games into the season they are, how Vick has been playing, and what the team’s record is at that point.
If they are long-shots for the playoffs and Vick hasn’t played anything better than mediocre, he will lose the starting job, just like last year. The question will be whether it’s Foles or Barkley who takes over at that point.
At that point, Kelly could go one of two ways…he either puts Foles in just to make sure he is or isn’t the future (and if anything, increase his trade value), or he goes with “his guy” to get Barkley some experience to build on for a starting role in 2014.
I could even see Kelly trying both guys out at that point as basically an audition for 2014.
However, there could be a few other variables to the situation. If Vick was playing mediocre but the team was still in playoff contention, I think Foles would definitely be the next guy in to give them the best shot at staying in contention.
And if he does well, he keeps the job.
If Vick is playing well and the Eagles are in contention, then Foles will just keep the spot warm until Vick returns.
Unfortunately, I think that last scenario is the least likely to happen. But, you never know. Vick could take to Kelly’s offense like a fish to water and get into a groove reminiscent of his run in 2010.
Or, and perhaps more likely, Vick will struggle with the “quick reads and repetitive accuracy” aspects of Kelly’s offense and will eventually get injured and miss a few games. That’s all it would take to open the door for Foles and/or Barkley.
In any case, I think Vick will be the one who starts the season but not the one who ends it.