When the Philadelphia Eagles decided not to cut Michael Vick last week, they left the door open for Vick to return next year and possibly be the starting quarterback. Now that Vick has restructured his contract to stay in Philadelphia, it’s obvious that the Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly are serious about making Vick the starter for the 2013 season. It may be a surprising move to some, but it’s the right move for the Eagles right now, as Vick is likely their best option at quarterback next season.
In a lot of ways Vick fits the mold of what Kelly’s offense, or at least the offense he ran while at Oregon, requires in a quarterback, which is the ability to run. For much of Vick’s tenure in Atlanta he was the poster boy for running quarterbacks in the NFL, and since coming to Philadelphia he hasn’t been all that shy about exercising his legs. While he may not be the runner he was in his younger days, Vick remains one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. If the playbook Kelly brings to Philadelphia in any way mirrors what he ran at Oregon, he’s going to need a quarterback with mobility, so it would make sense for the Eagles to keep Vick around.
One could argue that decision-making is more important in Kelly’s offense than a mobile quarterback, but that’s not necessarily true. Without the ability to run from the quarterback position, decision-making becomes a moot point in Kelly’s offense because the decision of a quarterback to keep the ball would almost never be made, meaning that Kelly’s offense would require no better decision-making skills out of the quarterback position than any other offense in the NFL. Vick has never been accused of being the smartest quarterback in the league, but he has plenty of experience making the kinds of decisions NFL quarterbacks have to make play after play, so he’s capable of handling the decision-making duties in Kelly’s offense as well as any other quarterback the Eagles could bring in to replace him.
Finally, if the Eagles decide to bring in other quarterbacks to compete with Vick, what are their options? Alex Smith has enough mobility to fit Kelly’s offense, but he’ll be a wanted commodity and could be difficult to obtain, as well as afford, especially with Vick also on the roster. Tim Tebow also has the running ability and would be a lot easier to acquire than Smith, but his throwing ability is limited; plus the Eagles would have to deal with the media circus that follows him around. Former Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas would obviously be a great fit, but he may be better as a backup quarterback, who could also help out the starter because of his familiarity with Kelly’s offense. The draft doesn’t offer any better choices. The best available quarterback with enough mobility for Kelly’s offense is E.J. Manuel of Florida State, but he may not be ready to start in the NFL right away. Matt Scott of Arizona and Collin Klein of Kansas State are quarterbacks that could be taken in the later rounds that possess the required mobility, but they may not even be ready to handle the duties of a backup quarterback, much less challenge Vick for the starting spot. So even if they wanted to, could the Eagles even do better than Vick at quarterback next year?
Whether it’s because of his running ability, his experience in the league, or the fact that they probably won’t be able to find anyone better, Vick may actually be the best option the Eagles have at quarterback in 2013. Philadelphia has made the wise choice of restructuring his contract, so that they can bring him back to potentially return as the Eagle’s starting quarterback, as they transition into the offensive scheme Kelly is bringing with him from Oregon to the NFL. Time will only tell if the Eagles made the right choice to retain Vick, but at this point, he’s the best option they have.