At the outset of training camp, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he’d name a starting quarterback when a starter emerges.
It’s now clear that Kelly won’t let one emerge for as long as possible.
“We’re going to pull the trigger before we game plan for the Washington Redskins,” Kelly told reporters after Friday night’s preseason opener. “We have to have a quarterback in place when we’re really getting ready and getting into the meat and potatoes of what our game plan is going to be. That quarterback will be named.”
In theory, game-planning for the Redskins could begin before the week preceding the game. But Kelly was asked if the effort will begin prior to the final preseason game, and he offered a rare one-word answer: “No.”
Maybe the broader answer to the question already appears in the depth chart, where both Vick and Foles are listed as starters. Maybe they will be co-starters, with Kelly deciding based on each opponent whether Vick or Foles better fits the game plan.
Either way, the delayed decision makes it less likely, but not impossible, that the loser of the competition won’t be with the team as of Week One. If it’s so close that Kelly won’t even try to decide on a starter until the preseason has ended, Kelly will need to keep the guy who finishes No. 2 around, in the event the starter stumbles.
There’s also a chance that Kelly knows who the starter will be, and that he’s simply splitting the reps as a way to keep the Redskins guessing about whether they’ll face Vick or Foles on the first Monday night of the season. If so, it’s a con job that is more trouble than it’s worth, given that the sharing of reps keeps the predetermined starter (if there is one) from getting fully prepared to run Kelly’s offense.
The truth as to Kelly’s reasoning may never be known. And if whoever gets the job thrives, it won’t matter.
But if the starter ends up starting slowly, Kelly will be criticized for not picking a starter early enough to give him a full and fair chance to get ready for the job that he may not learn he has won until six days before he makes his debut.