Position Battle: Eagles QBs The Young, Old And Restless
At the end of the 2012 NFL season, in a dramatic change of events, the Philadelphia Eagles made a bold move by hiring former University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and firing former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, who found a home as the new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. This was interesting for fantasy football, but the Eagles offense becomes the great mystery in 2013 with their new coach. From 2009 to 2012, Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks were one of the most explosive offenses in the NCAA, scoring an average of 49 points and accumulating 530 yards per game. Kelly ran an uptempo, high-paced offense that relied mostly on keeping the defense off balance and taking advantage of favorable defensive matchups. While at Oregon, Kelly did an excellent job recruiting the athletic and speedy players he needed to run such an effective offensive scheme. So the big question is, will coach Kelly run a similar offense to what he did in Oregon? I think that only coach Kelly has the answer for that and time will tell. The difference in the NFL, and why many college coaches fail, is the inability to personally select your personnel. The Eagles do have a lot of athletic players, but if the Oregon system proves to be too overwhelming, we might see the Eagles transition into a more traditional offense. Bottom line, if you are assuming or speculating that the Eagles must had an athletic mobile quarterback as the starter, you are far from correct. As of now, we have to explore all possible options as there are four capable quarterbacks on the roster that fit two different profiles. Lets take a look at the options Chip Kelly and the Eagles have to select from for the upcoming 2013 season.
Michael Vick: Vick has experienced a roller coaster ride ever since his return to the NFL in 2009. Vick went from undraftable at the start of the season to fantasy stud in 2010, when Kevin Kolb went down with an injury early in the season. Vick showed that by using his legs, while being a decent passer, he could be one of the weekly top fantasy scorers in the NFL. After that magical season, 2011 was less impressive where he missed three games and threw 14 interceptions in what was a very mediocre season. Vick plummeted into fantasy irrelevance in 2012, as he was plagued with injuries and turnovers where he only played 10 games and threw 10 interceptions and fumbled four times as well. What makes Kelly's arrival any different? Vick could get a boost if Kelly runs a version of his Oregon offense that doesn't require much time in the pocket and relies on quick short throws. This is important to Vick because he sustained most of his injuries and forced most of his turnovers while waiting too long in the pocket going through the multiple reads in the 2012 Eagles offense. Vick is also the most experienced with 10 NFL seasons under his belt, and even though he has been described as immature by the media, he seems to have won the confidence and support of the majority of his team. There are also concerns about his loss of speed due to his age, and although that sounds like a justified argument, he doesn't seem to have lost a step since his days as a Falcon. The 32-year-old quarterback has the best shot to land the Eagles starting job in 2013.
Dennis Dixon: The Eagles made quick work to acquire the former Ravens quarterback in free agency, signing Dixon to a two year deal. The unique thing about Dixon is that he used to play under Kelly for the Oregon Ducks in his first year as the offensive coordinator. With that history, you would think that Dixon would have an advantage in understanding coach Kelly's offensive philosophies, but as mentioned before, it's going to be hard to run a carbon copy of the Ducks offense in the NFL. Dennis Dixon is a very mobile quarterback but has a lot of question marks in the rest of his abilities. As a player that has only thrown 59 passes in his NFL career of four years, Dixon still remains the least likely candidate to be the starter for the Eagles in 2013.
Nick Foles: Foles was drafted by the Eagles in 2012 in the third round and was given an opportunity last year to prove his worth towards the end of the season, when Vick missed time due to injuries and a concussion. Foles went on to be fairly effective and decent fantasy option, throwing for 219 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a starter. Coach Andy Reid was impressed enough to name Foles the starter for the remainder of the season, where he ended with 1,699 yards passing with six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games. Foles is different from the other quarterbacks on the depth chart mostly because of his physical stature. At 6'6" he is nearly five inches taller than the any other player at the position. Foles lacks mobility and athleticism but would fit well if the Eagles decided to move away from the high-paced offense coach Kelly is accustomed to. The reports were that Foles was nearly traded to Kansas City because of Andy Reid's confidence in him, but the priced proved to be too high and Foles is an excellent option as a backup or possible starter for the Eagles in 2013.
Matt Barkley (Rookie): Amazing how drastically things can change in a year. After passing on the 2012 NFL Draft, Barkley was regarded as the clear No. 1 quarterback prospect in college football. This quickly took a turn for the worse during his quest for a National Championship. Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans finished 7-6 including a 21-7 Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech. Luckily for Barkley, he still had a respectable season and due to the lack of depth in this year’s draft, he still remains one of the top overall prospects at quarterback. The major concerns that surround Barkley is his size at 6’ 2” and lack of arm strength. There are also many questioning whether his success was a direct result of the talent he has had around him during his time at USC. What Barkley lacks in physical ability he has in fundamentals and football smarts. When Barkley was selected in the fourth round by the Eagles, I think it was a pick that confused everyone. From what we know about Barkley, he doesn't seem like the type that would be effective in a fast-paced offense. Maybe Chip Kelly is a fan from their many Pac 12 showdowns or maybe it was a BPA (best player available approach). Whatever it was, I really like the pick and think that long term, Barkley could have the best shot to take over as the franchise quarterback for the Eagles.
So what does this all mean? It's all up to interpretation and is a lot of speculation at this point but for fantasy football, Michael Vick should be the player to target, as he has the best shot at winning the job. The great thing about Vick is that he can be acquired very late in most fantasy drafts as a No. 2 quarterback option. As we always mention, finding an effective quarterback late means you can spend those early picks on the more important positions such as running back and wide receiver. Foles and Barkley could hold value in the future but as far as immediate impact, I have my doubts.