QB coach sizing up Vick, Foles, and the others

Eagles quarterbacks (from right) Michael Vick, G.J. Kinne, Matt Barkley, and Nick Foles at practice. A decision on the starter is not expected soon. MATT ROURKE / Associated Press
Eagles quarterbacks (from right) Michael Vick, G.J. Kinne, Matt Barkley, and Nick Foles at practice. A decision on the starter is not expected soon. MATT ROURKE / Associated Press (MATT ROURKE / Associated Press)
Posted: May 25, 2013

Bill Lazor's entire job is devoted to the topic most discussed among Eagles fans: the quarterback competition. Although Lazor works with and evaluates the Eagles passers, the decision on the starting quarterback will be up to head coach Chip Kelly.

But Lazor, the quarterbacks coach, undoubtedly has influence. Michael Vick and Nick Foles are splitting first-team reps, and rookie Matt Barkley remains a possibility. Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne are the other quarterbacks on the roster.

One of the unanswered questions about the Eagles quarterbacks is when a decision will be made about the starter. The candidates don't expect a decision soon, and the coaches don't feel the need to make that decision soon.

"It's always best when it plays out on the field," Lazor said. "When it plays out on the field, everyone sees it. Not everyone always agrees, but it plays out. . . . It could happen as we go through these OTAs. And if it doesn't, eventually it's going to. And if it's not real clear, the boss will make it clear."

Lazor echoed what Kelly has said about accuracy and decision-making being determining factors. He declined to offer evaluations, such as who has been the most accurate. He offered praise for each quarterback Thursday, yet his insight on each player was different and revealing.

With Vick, Lazor has sensed a "great maturity" and "great perspective" on where he is in his career and the opportunity available in Philadelphia.

"Now he approaches work every single day like someone who wants to be better, wants to maximize what he's doing," Lazor said. "He's really been a lot of fun to be around."

Asked about Vick's decision-making, Lazor noticed the experience that Vick possesses from the times he's been in different systems.

"He's seen defenses. He's seen coverages. He's been blitzed," Lazor said. "He's made good decisions. He's made bad decisions. He's had them work out and not work out. . . . Now he brings all that experience. He's an extremely willing learner."

The first thing that stood out to Lazor when he watched video of Foles was the "poise" that the second-year quarterback played with as a rookie. On the practice field, Lazor said, that poise is apparent.

"He can evaluate what's happening. He can make decisions, and he can make it look like it's really easy for him," Lazor said. "He has a calmness about how he plays. But I know he's taking all this information in and computing it and making the throw. And I think it's really a testament to mentally how on top of the game he is and the kind of athlete he is."

Lazor went out of his way to praise Foles' athleticism, even though the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Foles is not known for fleet feet. Lazor said that Foles appears athletic when he's moving to make a pass.

"I think he really can play the game," Lazor said. "He knows how to put it together."

When the Eagles drafted Barkley out of Southern California, Kelly cited Lazor's visit to Los Angeles to work out Barkley as part of the team's evaluation. That workout was just one part of the evaluation, Lazor emphasized, and Kelly coached against Barkley four times.

But Lazor said Barkley's first few weeks have reinforced what the team thought, and he talked about Barkley's accuracy and leadership skills.

"You're talking about extremely high football intelligence, great work ethic," Lazor said. "Some of the off-the-field skills, what he had to deal with, as far as the ups and downs. . . . Really, it's a guy that became the face of the franchise out there."

Lazor also said that there are factors of the competition that cannot properly be evaluated until the pads go on. Lazor is not in a rush, and he'll continue to do what talk-radio callers do on a daily basis in Philadelphia: assess the Eagles quarterbacks.

"Everyone who's asking wants to know who's the starter, where are we in the starting competition?" Lazor said. "My focus is so far beyond that. You can have a starter and win six games. No one is going to be happy. We need a guy who can take us where we want to go and win a championship here."


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

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