Eagles quarterback competition could last a while

Chip Kelly watches his quarterbacks during fast-paced drills at the NovaCare Complex. He said it's open competition at QB.
Chip Kelly watches his quarterbacks during fast-paced drills at the NovaCare Complex. He said it's open competition at QB. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: May 15, 2013

Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley were on the field together for the first day of organized team activities on Monday. But any hope for a clue about who will start at quarterback for the Eagles this season based on the first practice was diminished by coach Chip Kelly's rotation.

Vick opened with the first-team offense, but Foles also took a significant number of snaps at the NovaCare Complex. Kelly believed it was near a 50-50 distribution. Neither Barkley nor Dennis Dixon took first-team snaps on Monday, but both received steady work during Kelly's fast-paced practice.

"We're just trying to get reps off and trying to get film and look at it," Kelly said. "It's May 13 and we've got a long ways to go before we ever set a depth chart or do anything like that."

The rapid tempo allowed for quarterbacks to split time and still receive considerable repetitions. For now, though, they are focusing on learning the system and understanding what Kelly needs from a quarterback, rather than worrying about which guy takes the lead.

"The thing is, none of the quarterbacks are focused on being what everybody wants right now," Vick said. "We've got to learn this system, we've got to understand it, we've got to be able to go out and do it each and every day."

At some point, though, a working depth chart will need to be formulated. But it doesn't appear that Kelly is in any kind of rush. That means fans could expect the quarterback questions to linger into training camp and the preseason. Foles said the starter might not be named until the first game of the season. "It's up to Chip," he said.

The Seattle Seahawks did not name Russell Wilson as their starting quarterback until Aug. 26 last season and still made the playoffs, so it's not problematic to delay a decision.

That does not quell the speculation, though, and it is already rampant four months before opening day.

"We don't worry about it," Foles said. "Each guy on this roster wants to start on this team, but you've got to go to work, and it's up to the coaches."

Vick, Foles and Barkley have all expressed their intentions to win the starting job. This is to be expected, and Kelly said that anyone who says he's with the team to compete for a backup job will quickly be sent down I-95. Even Dixon, who probably will need to beat out one of the other three to the make the roster, was mentioned by Vick and Foles when the competition was discussed.

That competition became more interesting with Barkley's addition in the draft. Vick said the thought that went through his mind upon Barkley's selection was "just another quarterback that we have to mold and prepare and get ready to play ball in case he has to."

Foles, who competed against Barkley in college, said he was surprised that Barkley lasted until the fourth round and excited that the Eagles added a player of Barkley's caliber.

"Any time you can add a player like that to the team, it's great for the organization," Foles said. "We work to make each other better. You want competition, and he's definitely going to bring competition."

Glimpses of Kelly's offense were available on Monday. The quarterbacks took snaps exclusively out of the shotgun, and there was no huddling involved. All the quarterbacks were seen running variations of the zone read, including Foles and Barkley.

"That's part of our offense, that's what we do," Vick said. "You might see it, you might not."

It's all part of the intrigue of Kelly's first year in Philadelphia. No one knows what the offense will look like, or who will be running that offense. Kelly insists that he'll tailor the play calling to the personnel, but it's a crowded group vying for the starting job. The first day of OTAs did not provide any revealing hints other than that the competition could linger.

"Whoever is the best, whoever is the quarterback that can win games will be the ones that plays," Foles said. "It's that simple."


>Inquirer.com

For a position-by-position look at the Eagles roster, go to The Inquirer's website at inquirer.com/sports/eagles


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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