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Chip Kelly: Mike Vick and Nick Foles Will Compete for Eagles Starting Quarterback Job

Feb 11, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT

The Eagles turned to the next chapter of the Michael Vick
saga on Monday, agreeing to a restructured contract with their soon-to-be
33-year-old quarterback. It was a tad surprising to hear given the abruptness
with which the deal went down, but we knew the front office was up to something
when they didn’t release him right away.

While Vick is an Eagle for now though, that doesn’t mean he
will be under center for the club come kickoff in September. As head coach Chip
Kelly pointed out, the timing of the news was perfect because he was already
holding an introductory press conference for his coaching staff, during which
he revealed Vick will enter into an open competition with Nick Foles.

“There’s an open completion. Michael
knows that, Nick knows that. Nick knew every step of the way what we were
doing. I specifically wanted to make sure Nick was included in the plans. I
think both of them have outstanding qualities in terms of being a quarterback
in this league, both of them have started in this league. I also know in this
league you better have two.”

“I’m excited about the two of them,
but they’re both gonna compete. Who the starting quarterback is to start the
season off is going to be won on the practice field.”

Kelly added that both Vick and Foles will be taking snaps
with the first-team offense, so there does not appear to be a one and a two on
the depth chart for right now. Additionally, there will not be different systems or playbooks for either man, in case you’re thinking one will do the read-option stuff, and the other runs Pat Shurmur’s west coast offense.

A lot of words have been spilled in this space at the
expense of casting Vick as a vastly overrated player, and we all know that if
the decision were up to me he wouldn’t get yet another opportunity to be a
starting quarterback, at least not on my team. That said, I’m not as opposed to
this arrangement as you might think.

Kelly makes an excellent point about how important it is to
have two quarterbacks who can play, particularly because football often becomes a battle of attrition. If Vick is willing to compete head-to-head
for his job, and ride the pine were he not to win, there is some advantage in
keeping him around – especially at a discounted price. Previous reports made it
sound unlikely Vick would restructure his contract to stay in Philadelphia, so a
quarterback competition was something unexpected.

Of course, the concern in this situation is Kelly, like Andy
Reid before him, will fall in love with Vick’s skill set, a point stated
eloquently by Dan Graziano of ESPN’s NFC East Blog. There’s no denying Vick has
tremendous abilities, and outclasses Foles in terms of athleticism and almost certainly
arm strength, too – abilities that might shine through more easily on the
practice field.

But going forward, Kelly must take
care not to get duped. That whole thing about Vick’s speed and his ability to
make the speedy players around him more effective? Reid had that same plan.
Didn’t work. Didn’t work in 2011, when the offensive line was good, and it
certainly didn’t work in 2012, when the line fell apart. And one of the main
reasons it didn’t work was that, for all of his physical ability, Vick comes
with significant flaws that have prevented him from maintaining a level of
quarterback performance consistent with the best in the game.

Kelly wouldn’t rule out trading one or the other, either – a
detail that seemingly applies more to Vick than it would Foles based on value.
A renegotiated, incentive-laden contract is presumably more attractive to
potential bidders anyway. The Eagles also accept no risk under Vick’s
restructured contract, so should he lose the competition and pout, he can
always be released later.

Despite being able to find some positives out of this, I
still would lean toward another option to provide competition for Foles,
perhaps through the draft. Of course, who’s to say they the Eagles are finished
addressing this situation? In fact, the situation at quarterback may be even
more fluid than it was before today.

If everything is as Kelly says though, there is will be a
competition between Vick and Foles for the job. That should certainly make
things interesting this summer.