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A Red Zone Package Offense?

Michael Barkann has a modest proposal: let Vick keep ripping up the first 80 yards of the field, and bring in Nick Foles as a Red Zone closer. Will Chip go for it?

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

It's standard practice in the NFL to bring in package defenses, such as the nickel or dime look on passing downs. On offense, a team might go with a fullback or more tight ends close to the goal line, even Refrigerator Perry. But as far I know, no one has ever brought in a specialist quarterback in the red zone to finish off drives.

That's exactly what Michael Barkann of CSN Philly is proposing. And strange as it seems, this would make perfect sense given how the Eagles have played so far this year.

Michael Vick has been historically great at moving the Eagles up and down the field. The Eagles are averaging 454 yards per game, and Vick personally has over 300 yards rushing on the season. Michael is the 13th leading passer in the NFL, but he's also the 14th leading rusher. You think Reggie Bush is having a good year running for Detroit? Vick is doing better, with 9 more yards (307 to 298) on barely half as many carries (33 vs. 61). His 9.3 yards per carry is best in the NFL.

But in the red zone, the Vick-led Eagles suck. Their 41.18% touchdown percentage is 30th in the league. Only Jacksonville and -- get this, New England -- are worse. More specific to the quarterback, the Eagles are collectively 23rd in red zone QB rating.

Nick Foles, however, has done very well inside the twenty, admittedly in limited playing time. He scored a TD on his only drive against Denver (in garbage time), then converted two of Philadelphia's interceptions against the Giants into quick touchdowns.

You could argue that Foles is perfect inside the red zone, though statistics mavens will disagree. Right before halftime at the Meadowlands, he threw 21 yards to DeSean Jackson at the Giants' 18, with enough time left for one play. I wouldn't call the decision to kick a field goal instead of one attempt for an 18 yard touchdown a red zone failure, but I'm pretty sure it counts as one. Another Eagles drive stalled at exactly the 20, ending in a 23-yard field goal, and I don't know how they count that. But however you slice it, Foles has been much more successful in the red zone.

So it sounds great on paper. Have Vick get as far as he can up until the 20, then call in Foles as the closer. He can be the Mariano Rivera of the Eagles. Maybe this will start a new trend, another Chip Kelly innovation that stuns pundits and opponents alike. It would certainly complicate their game planning.

I don't see it happening, though I think it's a great idea for this group of players. For whatever reason, Kelly is playing it pretty conservatively this year. My theory is that, while he coached in college for many years, he realizes that he's new to the NFL and is laying low (relatively speaking) until he figures out the rhythm of this league. Coaches need reps to get good just as much as players do.

In fact, Barkann asked Chip directly about a two-QB solution in a one-on-one interview last spring (at 1:50). Kelly replied "I've never been a two quarterback guy, and just because everywhere I've been somebody has won the job, and has separated from the pack. So, I think it's important to kind of settle on one..."

Granted, he doesn't seem to be considering a situational use of quarterbacks in that interview. The common dual-quarterback scenario involves a coach ready to pull one of the two QBs as soon as he starts to falter. Obviously this would undermine the confidence of his starter, and it would also contradict Chip's philosophy on player competitions. Kelly talks about choosing the player who demonstrates he is better, by succeeding in games and practice, and Vick clearly won that competition overall.

In actual games, however, Vick has demonstrated that he is better everywhere except the red zone, and Foles has clearly shown his strength near the goal line. It would be kind of crazy and innovative, even for Chip. But if he can reject tradition in favor of science and facts on the ground, all the evidence points to Foles as an ideal red zone closer (once Vick is recovered from his injury.)

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