There has been plenty of talk since Chip Kelly was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles about how his offense will translate to the NFL and if it will work.
While it is fun to think of the Eagles' speedy players like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy in Kelly's Oregon offense, the truth is that no one knows what the Eagles offense will look like next year. In fact it is almost a guarantee that it will not really resemble the spread style offense Kelly ran at Oregon.
Unlike Andy Reid, what Kelly says can be- at least for now- taken to the bank. When he said in his introductory press conference that he will adjust his offense to his personel he means it. He won't bench Nick Foles because he can't run the spread, or keep Michael Vick just because he is faster. Kelly will decide which quarterback he likes better and move on from there.
So when he turns on the tape, which quarterback will Kelly ultimately decide to go with?
Here are some thing's Kelly looks for in a quarterback in his own words, as well as how they relate to Foles and Vick:
What Kelly Says: If the quarterback is not tall, look at his hands. That is the biggest coaching point to finding a quarterback. How big are his hands, and how well can he control the football? The heigh of the quarterback is not the important thing. No one playing quarterback throws over the line. They throw through lanes in the lineman. The important thing is the size of his hands.
What It Means: This is one area that is crucial to the Foles/Vick debate. The two quarterbacks could not have more different body types. Foles is tall and immobile while Vick is small and able to use his legs to create. People assume that Foles will have an edge because of his size- and his stature is a big reason people are so high on him- but that appears to not matter to Kelly.
What Kelly Says: In our attitude, every sack is the quarterback's fault. It is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game on an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away and give us another opportunity to make a first down. If you throw it away, it is second-and-10 for the first down. if you take the sack, it is second-and-16 for the down. If you can stay away from negative yardage plays, you will be successful.
What It Means: More than anything, Kelly hates quarterbacks who take sacks when they could be avoided. Last season Michael Vick was sacked 28 times in 418 drop backs, or 6.6% of the time. Nick Foles dropped back 293 times and was sacked 20 times, or 6.8% of the time. When it came to throw aways, Foles threw the ball away 5.8% of the time he dropped back while Vick threw it away 4.3% of the time. Those numbers are comparable and definitely go against the public opinion that Vick was a sack machine compared to Foles. However is is fair to say that numbers aside, anyone who watched the games could see that the offensive line looked better with Foles behind it. That could be due to a number of factors, however. While Foles does get the ball out faster, he also takes sacks that Vick wouldn't because of Vick's speed.
What Kelly Says: We want the ball out of the quarterback's hands in 1.5 seconds. That does not mean holding the ball until 2.5, waiting for someone to get open.
What It Means: Kelly likes a quarterback that gets the ball out fast. Given the speed he likes to play with, that makes sense- his speedy wideouts make quick routes the quarterback has to be able to deliver the ball to quickly. Getting the ball out quickly requires the quarterback to be strong before the snap, know what is coming and where he wants to go with it, and then doing it. A lot of this has to do with coaching and play calling. Last season Vick was given a ton of responsibility before the snap in terms of blocking, which he admitted hurt him when it came to doing his job as a quarterback- delivering the ball. Foles on the other hand did not have the responsibility. With that in mind, the numbers for how long it took each of them to get the ball out were comparable. Vick took an average of 2.77 seconds last season from the time the ball was snapped to the time it took him to attempt a pass- 4th longest in the NFL. Foles was not much better as it took him 2.71 seconds to attempt a pass. As with any stat, you could spin that for which ever quarterback you want. Foles was a rookie so it should be expected for him to take a little longer to process what he is seeing. Vick is a veteran, so for him to have times comparable to rookies isn't great. On the flip side, however, the Eagles loved to send their wideout's deep which would explain why both Foles and Vick are near the top of the NFLin time from snap to pass attempt.
What does all of this mean about the future of Foles or Vick? For one, the concept that Foles cannot play in Kelly's offense just isn't true. Kelly's offense in the NFL will almost certainly require the quarterback to make quick reads and solid decision making, not be an olympic track star. Foles could excel with Kelly as he is accurate and does a nice job leading his receiver and throwing to a spot.
On the other hand, it is also not true that Vick could not excel with Kelly as a passer. Vick had a ton on his plate with Reid running the show. Kelly is a fan of quick play calls, simple play names, and quick passes. He also runs the ball. Vick has shown he can win when he is not expected to throw the ball 55 times. If Kelly lets Vick worry just about where to put the ball- and not if the offensive line is blocking properly- Vick is more than capable of delivering a quick ball to his wideouts. Vick might not always make the best decisions with the ball, but he has a better arm then Foles does.
One area that Foles absolutely has an advantage over Vick is that Vick has shown he is not a fan of letting a play just die. Almost all of Vick's turnovers and interceptions happen when he tries to extend a play. When he just sits back in the pocket and throws, Vick does not really throw very many interceptions. The problem is that the instinct to extend a play is so deeply embedded in Vick, it is going to be impossible to take it away- and it will drive Kelly crazy. That could end up being the reason Vick is shown the boot- that and his massive salary.
Which quarterback Kelly goes with is not yet known. It could be Foles, it could be Vick, it could be neither. One thing is clear tho- whichever one he goes with, the offense will be tailored to his skill set.
After years of Reid forcing a square peg in a round hole, that will be refreshing to Eagles fans.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks