It has been presumed that new Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be using an offense in Philly that relies upon a mobile quarterback.
That’s presumption may have been premature.
As explained by Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, Kelly said his system isn’t predicated on a quarterback who can run.
“[There’s] perception vs. reality,” Kelly said. “My quarterback last year [at Oregon], Darren Thomas, who is up in the CFL, we played in 14 games, he ran for 200 yards. Everybody is like, ‘Well, you run a running offense.’ Well, look at the statistics, it’s not that. We don’t run designed quarterback runs or we’re snapping the ball to him and then running quarterback power. . . .
“I’ve never been that way. We’ve run zone-read concepts, man-read concepts, where it’s a mathematical game. If there is an extra defender in the box, your quarterback can read him and by controlling him and reading him he is basically blocking him.”
Kelly explained that his approach is to make the most of the guys on the roster.
“It’s about what tools do we have in our toolbox and what tools can we use based on the players that we have,” Kelly said. “I think what Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco and Pete Carroll did in Seattle is that they identified the strengths they had in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, and they played to them.”
Kelly is right. Good coaches devise plays and game plans aimed at maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of their players. Bad coaches jam the square peg of their roster into the round hole of their beloved “system.”
Of course, an important aspect of this approach is the composition of the roster. Specifically, which quarterbacks the Eagles will keep and which ones they’ll add. If Kelly acquires a mobile quarterback, there will be more running. If he keeps a drop-back quarterback like Nick Foles, there won’t be.
And Foles could be the answer, at least for now.
“He’s tough,” Kelly said of Foles. “I think a lot of people don’t understand how hard it is and what toughness means to the quarterback spot. To just be able to stand in the pocket and throw the football [is tough]. We hit him as many times as we could hit him [when Oregon faces Foles at Arizona] and he just kept getting up and making plays.
“He completed a 13-yard pass left handed against us once and I remember just standing on the sideline shaking my head [saying], ‘What do we have to do to stop him?’ He’s a competitor, he’s accurate, so I’m excited about that.”
Kelly, in theory, could also become even more excited about the more mobile Mike Vick. If so, Kelly needs to do so soon, because $3 million of Vick’s $15.5 million base salary in 2013 becomes fully guaranteed on February 6.
Regardless, great coaches of quarterbacks (like Andy Reid and Jim Harbaugh) get the most out of whichever quarterbacks they have. Kelly seems to be willing to follow that same approach. In time, we’ll find out whether he is able.