Eagles head coach Chip Kelly: Michael Vick has skills to win with his offense

ASSOCIATED PRESS Michael Vick reworked his contract and could earn up to $10 million in the coming season.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Michael Vick reworked his contract and could earn up to $10 million in the coming season.
Posted: February 13, 2013

THE NEW BROOM did not sweep clean. In this case, the wielder of the broom picked Michael Vick up off the floor, dusted him thoroughly, and set him carefully on the mantel.

Chip Kelly held the news conference Monday he'd long promised, introducing his new staff, but the new Eagles coach managed to shove that news into the background, when a few hours before, the team announced it had reworked Vick's long-term contract into a 1-year deal worth as much as $10 million, including incentives.

Kelly made it clear this happened because he wanted Vick here, and expects Vick to be here in 2013, though Kelly did not dismiss the idea of a trade, and touted a competition between Vick and Nick Foles, the 2012 rookie who started six games. Kelly said Vick has not indicated he would be unwilling to stay as a backup, which is a change from how Vick said he felt when last season ended.

"I think in terms of Michael, we look at everything," Kelly said, when asked whether he saw on game video the turnovers, proclivity toward injury and reluctance to pull the trigger in a timely fashion that soured Eagles fans on Vick over the past two seasons.

"What I look at is skill set, first and foremost. What he can do, how he can throw the football, how he can beat people with his feet. There are a lot of different factors he has. And you have to look at the landscape for other quarterbacks.

"I guess the best way I can put this is I agree there is a change of scenery going on here. For Michael Vick, there is a change of scenery, but not a change of address."

Out of all of that, the part about the QB landscape might be the most telling. If Kelly was sure Foles could be a franchise quarterback, if he even thought it was likely Foles was going to be a franchise quarterback, he wouldn't be going out of his way to hang on to Vick. If Kelly thought there was a QB available through trade or free agency who could be a franchise quarterback, he wouldn't be going out of his way to hang on to Vick. If Kelly thought he was likely to get a franchise quarterback in the draft this year, he wouldn't be going out of his way to hang on to Vick.

So, whether Vick really ends up starting for the Eagles this season or not, making a move to keep him now says something about how Kelly views the situation. Suddenly, it seems much more likely the Eagles will look to draft a franchise quarterback in 2014.

"There is an open competition," Kelly said. "And who the starting quarterback is to start the season off is going to be won on the practice field."

Kelly lauded Vick's toughness and competitiveness, two qualities that have never been in doubt. Didn't say much about his judgment.

A source close to the situation said the Eagles will need to make the playoffs, with Vick as the starter, for Vick to make $10 million. There is a significant signing bonus, the source said, payable sometime before this year's NFL draft; ESPN analyst Andrew Brandt said that the April bonus is $3.5 million, and that Vick stands to make about $7.5 million if he doesn't start.

Albert Breer, of the NFL Network, reported that Vick will make an extra $1.5 million if he plays 90 percent of the snaps, and $1 million if he is the QB and the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Brandt made the excellent point that once the Eagles pay Vick $3.5 million in April, it's hard to envision them trading or releasing him and just eating that money.

It was clear from the moment of Kelly's hiring, sources said, that Vick very much wanted to stay in Philadelphia, but even so, the Vick camp hadn't anticipated a deal coming together this quickly.

"I am grateful and proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle. My heart is in Philly and this community is important to me," Vick said in a statement released by a spokesman. "I look forward to playing for coach Kelly, Jeffrey Lurie and the entire Eagles organization, the city of Philadelphia and the fans. I am training hard this offseason and will be ready for coach Kelly's team vision and leadership. Our goal is to win."

In talking with Kelly and new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, it was hard to get a fix on exactly what the Eagles will do offensively. Shurmur said he expects that Kelly will call the plays, and that the read option "will be part of the package." He said the system "will be very new" to Vick after playing in Andy Reid's West Coast offense. But he spoke of an approach that would be broad enough to encompass the very different skill sets of Vick and Foles.

"I think they both have an outstanding skill set," Shurmur said. "Athletically, they're a little different . . . the system's very flexible. With all the great minds we have in the room now, we'll just develop a system that works for us and for them . . . You could look at all the good all of us have done, and not look at the bad, and try to put that together."

Shurmur and Kelly "have different experiences, we learned offense a little different way," said Shurmur, a Reid assistant from 1999 through 2008. "We both understand the important thing is to score points and win football games."

Kelly recited a prepared bit about how Vick is actually a little younger than Tony Romo, and about the same age as Eli Manning - but of course, neither Romo nor Manning depends on his legs as much as Vick does, and Manning has been incredibly durable, starting every game since his second season in the NFL. Vick has missed 13 games in his three seasons as the Eagles' starter. He also has 30 touchdown passes and 33 turnovers the past two seasons.

Shurmur said his first priority when he returned to NovaCare was to look at Vick's 2012 video. He noted that Kelly has met with Vick three times, including Monday, when Vick came to NovaCare to sign his new deal.

"We just really believe he wants to do what it takes to win," Shurmur said. "We believe that, we think he's got the skill and ability to do it, and the offense is going to be flexible enough to play to the strengths of whoever's playing quarterback."

Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor was a quality-control assistant in Atlanta in 2003, when Vick was the starter there, and saw "a great competitor."

"I've had enough knowledge of him firsthand, being in the meetings and seeing him on the field, watching him accept coaching - I have great confidence it's going to work," Lazor said.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: Eagletarian.com

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