There's no doubt in my mind that Chip Kelly made the right decision when he named Michael Vick the Eagles starting quarterback today.
It's not because I'm a Vick fan. It's not because I'm a Nick Foles detractor. It's not for any other reason than I wanted to see the best Eagles QB win the job. It's as simple as that. Play the guy who deserves the job. Play the guy who plays the best.
Remember, Chip Kelly came to Philadelphia to win football games. He did not come to Philadelphia to take a year off. Chip can't afford to spend a year simply evaluating a young QB (Foles or Barkley). I've discussed the argument against "starting the future" before, so I'll just post it here again:
So while the youth movement argument holds some merit, it is a flawed argument when you consider Chip's priorities. Once again, Chip came here to win now. He's on a 5 year contract, and while the money is fully guaranteed, his job is not. If Chip proves to be a failure after his first 3 seasons, he could be on his way out of Philly. This is why Chip can't afford to at least challenge the young QBs in training camp and pre-season. That's exactly the reason Michael Vick was re-signed: healthy competition will ensure the winner earns his job. Everything indicates that the Eagles QB competition is wide open. If Chip truly wants to win now, he'll pick the QB that gives him the best chance to do so.
There was an open QB competition from the second Chip Kelly was hired and now Vick is the winner. Vick has earned the job by putting together a solid training camp and absolutely gorgeous preseason.
Let's look at the numbers:
Michael Vick - (30 snaps) 13 comp, 15 att, 86.7 completion %. 199 yards, 13.3 yards/attempt, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 sack, 113.2 QB rating.
As everyone knows, Vick's interception came on a hail mary attempt. Take away that meaningless interception and Vick is 13/14. Then consider that the only incompletion Vick threw was a dropped pass by the receiver. Very impressive.
Nick Foles - (31 snaps) 11 comp, 14 att, 78.6 completion %. 100 yards, 7.1 yards/attempt, 0 TD (1 rushing), 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 fumble lost, QB rating 66.7.
Foles hasn't looked bad by any stretch, but he hasn't been as impressive as Vick. He's also turned the ball over two times too many.
As with any statistical reference, small sample size needs to be acknowledged. 30 snaps isn't necessarily a great indicator of how these players will perform in a bigger sample size. For right now, though, it's all the Eagles have. Vick and Foles have looked too even in training camp practices to make a clear decision based on those performances. Not to mention the limited conditions of practice - limited pressure from the defense, limited contact, etc.
Not only did Chip make the right decision, but just as important he used the right process to get there. I wrote about this about the Eagles QB competition back in February:
Everything Chip is saying indicates there will be an open competition in the off-season and that's something to get excited about. If the job was just being handed to one QB, that would be concerning. No QB on this roster deserves an uncontested chance at the job. QB candidates will be fighting for a starting job and playing their hardest to earn the opportunity. May the best man win, indeed.
Clearly, the competition has brought out the best in both players. Who's to say Vick or Foles would be playing as well as they are if they weren't being challenged? It's a question that can't be answered for sure, but it's apparent that the competition hasn't hurt.
It's not all rainbows and butterflies. There are definitely some legitimate concerns with Vick starting.
What happens if Vick gets hurt? Perhaps the worst kept secret of the NFL is that Vick has only made it through a full season once. It's not enough for Vick to play well to keep his job. He has to stay healthy enough to be able to play. Chip Kelly has made this clear in his motto - "Get down, first down, touchdown." Of course, taking off and running isn't the only way Vick gets hurt. A number of his injuries occur in the pocket. There is some reason for optimism in this area. With the Eagles offensive line looking very improved in 2013, there's a chance Vick will have cleaner pockets which means taking less hits. Then there's the fact that Chip's offense requires the QB to get the ball out fast. The quicker Vick gets rid of the ball, the less time he gives the defense to hit him.
Can the Eagles trust Vick? There's concern about Vick reverting to his poor performances in prior years. Vick has to prove he can play well now without turning the ball over and making mistakes. If he isn't playing well enough, his starting job could be in trouble.
Lastly, there are concerns about what this means for the Eagles beyond this year. Do the Eagles re-sign Vick after this year? Those are questions are best saved for a later time. It's unfair to speculate that far ahead without knowing how this years plays out.
For now, Michael Vick is the Eagles starting QB. He is playing well and deserves the job. It was obvious.
Chip made the right call.