There should be no quarterback competition this preseason more intriguing than the one involving the Philadelphia Eagles. New head coach Chip Kelly is in no hurry to name a starter, despite protests from some of the competitors, and with three rather under-whelming options all trying to learn a new offense, Kelly has no reason to rush a decision, which should make the preseason competition all the more interesting. With the Eagles beginning their preseason schedule tonight, let’s handicap each of the three candidates.
In theory, Vick makes the most sense and could be looked at as the favorite to win the starting job. He obviously has the most experience, despite his somewhat advanced age he can still run, and the Eagles chose to keep him this offseason when they could have decided to let him go, so all that points to Vick being the guy. But there’s plenty working against Vick as well. He’s not the most accurate passer and he has a tendency to be turnover prone, two things that Kelly won’t tolerate. Kelly would probably prefer to go with Vick, but only if he avoids making mistakes and earns Kelly’s trust during the preseason.
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At first glance, Foles doesn’t seem to fit the profile for Kelly’s offense, but if he proves to be the best candidate, then Kelly will orchestrate the offense around his skill set. Foles doesn’t have the athleticism or the experience that Vick does, which could make it hard for him to win the starting job, unless Vick really struggles in the preseason. Foles had an acceptable completion percentage in five of the seven games he played last season, and if he can perform like that during the preseason, but with more consistency he stands a good chance to challenge Vick.
Barkley is the most intriguing of the three candidates. On the one hand, he had questionable arm strength coming out of college, and having shoulder surgery towards the end of his college career didn’t exactly put those concerns to rest. But on the other hand, he was hand picked by Kelly, who is familiar with Barkley from their days in the Pac 12 together. Barkley may not be the ideal athlete to run Kelly’s system, but he was a four-year starter, which gives him plenty of experience running an offense, and that might allow him to learn Kelly’s offense just as quick as the other candidates, giving him a legitimate chance to winning the job. More than anything else, Kelly wants a quarterback that can make quick decisions, get the ball out quickly, and avoid turnovers, and those are three things Barkley is capable of doing. Kelly doesn’t want to rebuild; he wants to win right away, so starting a rookie could be risky, but if Barkley proves to be the quarterback that gives the Eagles the best chance to win, he’ll be the starter.