Chip Kelly hire puts all QB options, including Geno Smith, on Eagles’ table
Could Chip Kelly, now that he’s been named head coach of the Eagles in a stunning turn of events, decide that he needs to use the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft on Geno Smith?
But in no way does Philadelphia’s coaching coup turn that scenario into a certainty. In all truth, the Eagles are just as likely to pass on Smith now as they were a couple of days ago.
The reasoning is simple: Even though Kelly’s critics may want to think of him as a one-trick pony, destined to be exposed by NFL defenses and coaching staffs, the new Eagles’ leader is more diverse than that. For as much as his up-tempo spread offense has opened eyes, it was his ability to build the Oregon program and to adjust his schemes to fit his personnel that pushed him to an elite level.
Because of that versatility, there’s no telling what might happen with the Eagles’ quarterback position now. Maybe Smith will convince Kelly that he’s worth a top pick. Or maybe Michael Vick sticks around or Kelly reworks his offense around Nick Foles or the Eagles trade for a guy like Alex Smith.
There are a number of paths for Kelly to take, even if the offensive transition may not happen overnight.
As far as a “fit” goes, Vick certainly passes the eye test — and his future with the Eagles now appears more open than at any time in the past few months. His injury issues and turnover woes would cause Kelly some concern, but he is an athletic QB with a terrific arm.
If Kelly wants to bring his exact Oregon offense to Philadelphia, he’ll be hard-pressed to find, between now and September, a more compatible fit than Vick.
Foles does not have the mobility that a Marcus Mariota or a Darron Thomas did for Kelly at Oregon, but he does have the arm to make NFL throws and the size (6-foot-6, 243 pounds) to withstand a little beating. Plus, Kelly raved about him last year when Foles played for Arizona:
“I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes,” Kelly said, according to the Tuscon Citizen. “Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid’s a warrior. He’s as good as anyone in the country.”
So, between Vick and Foles, Kelly has at least two QB candidates to consider before free agency and, later, the draft even come on the calendar.
How Kelly makes up his mind will depend on where he sees the other 10 pieces on offense next season. A mobile quarterback plus a sleeker offensive line could push him toward an Oregon-style attack; a better pocket passer might give the Eagles’ offense a bit of a 2012 Patriots look — a fairly balanced mix of run and pass that uses the hurry-up as a curve ball.
The Eagles already looked like a wild card at the top of the draft. A cursory glimpse at their roster shows needs at several offensive line spots, in the secondary and possibly at linebacker.
That’s in addition to the potential need for a new QB, depending on Kelly’s approach. Should he bounce Vick (and possibly Foles) and go the trade route, that fourth-overall selection could be a heck of a carrot to dangle.
If Philadelphia stays put at No. 4, you can bet the franchise will complete its due diligence on Smith.
Will he be the best option, though? Right now, it’s hard to see how he could be, given Smith is not a running quarterback in the way Vick is — and especially when a guy like Matt Scott, who ran the zone-read for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona this year, might be available, with far less risk, in the mid-rounds.
Still, Smith is on the table as a potential Eagle, and Vick is in the picture again, too, adding even more mystery to Kelly’s next move and the upcoming draft.