Let’s get this right out of the way, shall we? Nick Foles is your starting quarterback for the 2013 season. There. Feels better, right?
No? Fine, but before you start groaning, just hear me out.
Chip Kelly is a fan of a few very specific attributes in his quarterback. Big hands. Durability. Accuracy. Quick decision-making. Doesn’t turn the ball over. Doesn’t take sacks.
Notice there was no mention of overall mobility or athleticism. Sure, these are attributes you’d like your quarterback to have, but they’re not the most important ones. More important than foot speed, even in a Kelly offense, is overall intelligence and speed of mind and decision making.
Which is where tempo comes in. The real key to Chip’s offense (As I’ve written before) is tempo.
He wants a quick thinking distributor who moves the team rapidly and efficiently up and down the field. He wants a guy who is going to drop back and get the ball out of his hands on time and on target, and who is then going to get the team up and set at the line as quickly as they’d like to dictate the pace of play.
In this case, Nick Foles is your guy. I wrote at length before the season was officially over that I thought Foles was a better option than Vick. After going back and re-evaluating, I’m even more convinced that Foles should be given a chance to start next year, and Vick should be shown the proverbial door (Oh, and Trent Edwards. He’s gone too.)
Foles had the biggest hands of any QB at the combine in 2012. He’s tough and knows how to take a beating and keep on playing (As a senior in college he played behind an almost entirely freshmen offensive line and got the snot beat out of him but kept playing and playing well. This year for the Eagles he played behind a patchwork o-line and got the snot beat out of him, and still posted better numbers than Mike Vick. Oh, and Chip Kelly played against him in college and made it a point to go on record after the game to praise him for his toughness. Ok, so he’s a tough guy).
As for quick decision-making, accuracy and turnovers, he had problems with all three of those last year. But the truth is that he’s a rookie and though they won only one of the six games he started, he improved in each area game in and game out.
The real bottom line though is that this years draft does not look ideally situated to help us find a franchise QB, and there are plenty of holes elsewhere on the team that require more urgent focus (see: The defense).
I know intelligent draft strategy dictates that you take the “best player available” at all times, but our early picks this year should be used for defense, defense and defense.
If there were a Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck in this year’s draft this conversation would be going very differently, especially with us sitting at the fourth overall pick. But because there’s not, I can’t condone the use of an early draft pick on a prospect that has just as much chance of turning into Blaine Gabbert as they do of turning into Tom Brady.
But, while the team won’t be spending first or second round picks on a QB, they will most likely draft one in the mid to later rounds as a project while also probably bringing in a veteran via trade or free agency to battle it out with Foles.
Dennis Dixon is looking like that veteran free agent who knows Kelly’s system and can add competition to the position, but his arrival won’t preclude them from looking elsewhere (I say No to Alex Smith by the way. Small hands. Smells like cabbage. But really he is what he is at this point and he’d just be a stop gap until Chip can get his hands on who he really wants. And if that’s how Chip’s going to approach it, he’s better off using Foles as a stop gap who can potentially become something more). The draft offers many a different option, though I can specifically see EJ Manuel from FSU if he last’s long enough or Matt Scott from Arizona being project targets in the later rounds.
That would give us a depth chart that I still think Foles ends up on top of. He’s got enough of the attributes Chip Kelly seeks, and he’s young enough to be coachable on those aspects where he is still (quite) lacking.
-Bonus crazy idea time. What if Andy Reid, who seemed very excited by the potential of Nick Foles calls up Chip Kelly and says “What do I need to offer you to get Foles in Kansas City”? Let’s face it, no one expects Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn or Ricki Stanzi to run away with that job.
If he offers a 2 or better, you take it right then and there, roll with someone like Vick or Dixon for this year and find your guy next year. If it’s a 3 or less, I say tell Big Red to go elsewhere to peddle his ridiculous wares.
If he offers a player swap (Rare though they may be) and that player can help you on defense right away and for the foreseeable future, you do it. Right now, even though I’m arguing for Foles to start, we’re all just banking on his potential. A potential that is rooted in his mind and not in his physical attributes.
If you get a good enough offer, you’ve got to do it. But if he stays, you’ve got to roll with him. It’s quite the conundrum.
See what I did there?
Ok, that’s it guys. We’ll start on Bill Davis’ new defense next.