Tuesday, November 12, 2013
3 reasons Kelly must stick with Nick
By Phil Sheridan
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly has remained mum on his plans for the quarterback job once Michael Vick returns.
Vick told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that his hamstring is still sore and that starting is "not something that I'm thinking about at this point. The last thing I want to be is a distraction to this team."
Here are three good reasons Kelly should, and almost certainly will, stay with Nick Foles unless injury forces another change:
Reason 1: 2014 is coming. Kelly said he is thinking week to week and not concerned with the long-term picture at quarterback. That's fine. I will make my November mortgage payment, but I still know 2014's tax bill is coming.
Vick's contract is up at the end of this season. It seems likely that he will be gone, unless he is willing to take a greatly reduced salary to come back as the No. 2 quarterback. That doesn't sound like Vick.
"I do consider myself a starter," Vick told The Inquirer, "but if coach has a viable explanation or good reason for why it should be anything different, I got to understand that. He's the coach. I'm the player. One thing about it, I'm confident in my abilities. We all know what I can do when I'm out there. I'm just an asset to this team as long as I'm here."
To play Vick again by choice is to risk having him play one or two of his occasional great games and generate a fresh round of debate and controversy. Sound simplistic? Bear in mind, the Eagles bum-rushed Kevin Kolb out of town and gave Vick an $80 million contract based on a few such games in 2010.
Kelly has had the full Michael Vick Experience: the great game followed by the disastrous game followed by the injury. He knows right now that he can't rely on Vick as his quarterback in 2014. If Foles plays out the season as No. 1, then it will be easier to part quietly with Vick or sell him on the idea of being the backup.
Reason 2: Stability is better than instability. When the Eagles went through that brutal two-game, no-touchdown period on offense, Kelly immediately cited "quarterback instability" as the main culprit. Indeed, Vick and Foles took turns getting hurt and rookie Matt Barkley finished both games.
The Eagles have scored 10 touchdowns, all through the air, and won two games with Foles back behind center. Why on earth would Kelly reintroduce quarterback instability into the equation if he isn't forced to?
The answer is that he wouldn't.
Reason 3: Eventually, Foles' feelings matter, too. It makes sense for Kelly to handle Vick carefully. He is a proud veteran who commands respect from the younger players on this team. Kelly has nothing to gain and much to lose by being dismissive of Vick. Besides, his point that Foles could get hurt is spot on. If he needs to go back to Vick, he's better off maintaining the posture that Vick was never actually demoted.
But the time is coming when managing Foles' pride and confidence will take precedence. Foles may not be the quarterback for 2014, 2015 and beyond, but he is the leading candidate at the moment. He has played good soldier through all of the back-and-forth with Vick -- and he's sincere in his respect for Vick and Kelly -- but everyone has an ego. Especially elite NFL quarterbacks.
If Foles develops into one, he's going to remember how he's treated now. And if he's going to be asked to command the huddle and the locker room, his teammates are going to remember this time, too. Showing tepid support for Foles is not a good long-term strategy.
And whatever he says, Kelly knows there is a long term.