By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Just when change hit the Eagles for the first time in 14 years, just when it seemed the team would be heading in a new direction under new head coach Chip Kelly, just when it seemed the team would be parting ways with Michael Vick, just when the Pope rocked the world by resigning, the Eagles threw a minor tremor into the NFL by pulling Vick back in.
Vick reportedly restructured his contract to what pares down essentially to a one-year deal that could be worth $10 million with incentives.
The Vick signing was a point of discussion during Kelly’s press conference announcing his coaching staff. It also had many scratching their heads wondering why the team retained Vick, who apparently has the NFL mesmerized into thinking he’s still the vintage Vick of the early-2000s.
Over the last two years with the Eagles, Vick has 38 turnovers, more than any quarterback in the NFL, throwing 24 interceptions (and 30 touchdowns) and losing 14 fumbles. Vick has also only played in 23 games, missing three games in 2011 and six in 2012 due to injuries, going 10-13 as the Eagles’ starter during that time.
Still, Kelly feels Vick fits.
Where and how is still the looming question, considering the offense Kelly runs, the read-option, depends on the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands quickly—not exactly a Vick strength. Kelly reminded everyone that Vick will turn 33 (on June 26) when the season begins, not much older than Tony Romo (who will turn 33 on April 21) and Eli Manning (who turned 32 on January 3). Yet Vick has not accomplished anything close to Eli Manning, and his last two years pale in comparison to Romo.
Maybe it says Kelly isn’t completely confident in Nick Foles, who’s about to embark on his second NFL season, and Vick gives Kelly some reassurance at quarterback.
“For us as a staff getting ready to move forward, putting our plans together offensively and defensively and special teams, knowing we have Michael and Nick back at quarterback, that kind of gives us a direction we’re going in offensively,” Kelly said. “I really do [think Vick is still an effective NFL quarterback]. In terms of Michael, we looked at everything. But I looked at his skill set first and foremost. What he can do, how he can throw the football and how he can beat people with his feet. There are a lot of different factors he has. You also have to look what the landscape is out there with other quarterbacks. The best Kelly I can put this is there is a change of scenery going on here, but for Michael Vick, there is a change of scenery, but not a change of address.”
Kelly didn’t rule out the possibility a trade would be in the works, but seemed adamant that the Eagles will be going into 2013 with the same quarterback Vick-Foles battery it finished last year’s 4-12 season.
Vick never indicated to Kelly he would not be interested in returning to the Eagles if he didn’t start, Kelly said. Kelly had met with Vick three times, including Monday morning, when Vick stopped into Kelly’s office after signing his restructured contract.
The re-signing, quite possibly, may be used as a ploy to get the best out of both Vick and Foles. Or, quite possibly, Kelly truly believes Vick is the best chance the Eagles have to win.
“The one thing that attracted me to Michael after having visited with him, he’s a competitor, I don’t think he’s afraid of anything, I think he wants competition,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen Nick Foles up close and personal, I think Nick wants it, too. I think anybody when you really look at, probably the most competitive position on the field is the quarterback spot. So you want guys that want to compete. I don’t think anybody, if you asked them, whether here or the 31 other franchises in this league, if they want things handed to them. No one wants anything handed to you.”
Kelly stressed that he wouldn’t be changing who Vick is. Kelly hinted Vick may be the product of the systems he played in, both here and in Atlanta. Kelly also implied those systems, Andy Reid’s offense, may have been responsible for Vick holding the ball—and the turnovers that occurred because of it.
“I think there is a lot more to Michael, and I think quarterbacks are the byproduct of their experience, but to sit here and say I understood the system that Michael has been in, whether it was the Falcons under coach [Dan] Reeves, or here, in terms what they asked him to do, that depends on the system that you run. Some systems that they run don’t ask him to get the ball out quick. Do I think he can get the ball out quick, I think he has an unbelievable release. It’s up and out, and it’s quick.
“What he’s asked to do from the read progression and all of those other things, I don’t know what he was asked to do in the past. But that’s our job as coaches to put him in a situation where he can get the ball out quickly, because we do have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball that are going to flourish when they do get the ball in their hands. That’s on us as coaches. A lot of times that’s not on the quarterbacks.”