Which quarterback in the best fit for the Eagles offense in 2013?As the Philadelphia Eagles open training camp, Chip Kelly has not settled on his starting quarterback. Michael Vick’s experience and Matt Barkley’s college hype make for enticing choices, but the numbers say Nick Foles is the best fit for Kelly’s offense.
With Kelly at the helm, Oregon thrived on sustaining drives with short throws. Of 373 Oregon pass attempts last season, 243 – nearly two-thirds of all attempts – traveled less than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
During Kelly’s tenure at Oregon from 2009 to 2012, no team had a higher passer efficiency on third and short (five yards or fewer) than the Ducks (198.2).
Kelly also taught his quarterbacks to avoid turnovers. From 2009-12, the only BCS schools with a lower interception per attempt rate than Oregon’s 2.1 percent were Alabama (1.5) and West Virginia (1.9).
With those quarterback trends in mind, here’s why Foles is the Eagles’ best fit in 2013:
• Last season, Foles was more accurate than Vick on throws 10 yards or fewer, completing 67 percent of such passes to Vick’s 62 percent. On short throws, Vick was off target on 13 percent of his passes compared with Foles’ 11 percent.
• Foles’ completion rate on third down (58.2 percent) narrowly topped Vick’s (57.3 percent), but Vick was off target on third down much more often than Foles was last season.
• Foles took care of the ball more effectively than Vick did last season. Vick threw an interception every 35 pass attempts. Foles averaged an interception every 53 pass attempts last season, tied with Peyton Manning for sixth best among qualified quarterbacks.
As for Barkley, he notched a completion percentage of 75 percent on passes 10 yards or fewer, while completing 60 percent of third-down attempts during his career at USC.
But Barkley’s ability to protect the ball as a rookie will be a major concern. Barkley recorded an interception every 26 throws during his senior season, ranking 118th in FBS. That was a significant drop-off from his junior year campaign, when he ranked 18th in interception rate among qualified QBs.
A strong camp would improve Barkley’s chances, but the quarterback battle will likely come down to Foles and Vick.
Although Foles’ numbers might not approach elite levels, his efficiency in the short passing game and ability to prevent turnovers offer Chip Kelly and the Eagles the best chance to win this season.