Chip Kelly Supplies the Nails for Michael Vick’s Coffin

by Jerome's Friend

“If you are going to stand for something, it is not what you say it is. It is what people see in your actions. People should be able to come, observe you, and in five minutes know what you stand for.” ~Chip Kelly

If you have not yet read Chip Kelly’s white paper “Efficient Use of Practice Time”, you must. It provides incredible insight into the mind of the Eagles head coach. Ironically, the paper itself, published in July 2012 and based on his Oregon Ducks team, is less efficient than the title suggests (it includes more than just his thoughts on practice), but it is to the reader’s benefit. In it, Kelly also explains the role the quarterback plays in his offense. Since it appears Kelly and Howie Roseman are going to maximize their time with Michael Vick, at least through March 12th, it might be interesting to apply Kelly’s own words in order to examine Vick’s situation and potential outcome…

“Play fast, play hard, and finish.”

This is Kelly’s overarching philosophy. Michael Vick can indeed play fast and play hard. He plays with a warrior’s heart, with a reckless abandon, with the attitude of a repentant sinner fulfilling his penance as if each bone-crushing hit, each gut-rearranging blow he receives is deserved, leaving an impression on his soul. And therein lies the problem: that finishing part. The road to redemption is paved with good intentions, but Vick’s destination is not always reached. Too many times does he finish the play on his back, on his stomach, or on his side behind the line of scrimmage. This type of result violates a primary Kelly tenet, expounded multiple times in his paper:

“Every sack is the quarterback’s fault. It is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game on an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away, and give us another opportunity to make a first down.”… “The job of a quarterback is simple. He has to ‘let it happen, and not make it happen.’ We want to move forward. That is a concept you have to make your team understand. The cardinal sin at our place is the quarterback sack. We want the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in 1.5 seconds. That does not mean holding the ball until 2.5, waiting for someone to get open.”…” The fastest time run at the NFL Scouting Combine for a 10-yard dash is between 1.5 to 1.7 seconds. That is without pads. My quarterback can get rid of the ball in that amount of time and complete a pass.”

In 2012, Vick was sacked 28 times through ten games, an increase in rate over 2011 when he was sacked 23 times through thirteen games. Granted, many of those sacks were a result of an injury-plagued and porous offensive line. But as Nick Foles showed later in the season, it was still possible to drop back and release in rhythm with essentially the same protection. Vick’s proclivity to extend the play and force something to happen may be the tipping point. Combine his interceptions and fumbles lost during the 2011-2012 seasons and Vick has turned over the ball 33 times in 23 games. These results have cost the Eagles opportunities for first downs and touch downs (see turnovers, red zone) and disagree vigorously with Kelly’s philosophy (in comparison, Oregon quarterbacks have thrown for a total of 32 interceptions in four seasons from 2009-2012). Many of Vick’s turnovers are caused by his desire to run, either behind the line of scrimmage or beyond it, but Kelly may not necessarily share that same desire:

“In a quarterback, I look for a quarterback who can run and not a running back who can throw. I want the quarterback who can beat you with his arm. If the defense forces him to run, he can do it effectively.”

Aside from a few dazzling performances during the 2010 season, Vick can never be attributed with the ability to beat a team with his arm. He may certainly be capable, but his legs, speed, and quickness are his primary weapons. Now that Vick is 33 years-old, those primary weapons are in the decline. Regardless, Vick may better represent Kelly’s “running back who can throw” rather than his “quarterback who can run.” If Andy Reid, the Developer of Quarterbacks, was unable to develop the quarterbacking skills of Vick, then it’s doubtable Chip Kelly can. But there is one final nail Kelly provides for Michael Vick’s coffin, and it’s what he said during his introductory press conference:

“One of the best qualities in a quarterback is durability.”

Michael Vick’s lack of durability caused by selfless play has become the stuff of legend. Given that he has played 16 games a season once (2006), missed nine games in the last two seasons, and suffered a severe concussion (and thus will be more likely to suffer another), he clearly should not be a comfortable choice for Coach Kelly. So aside from Kelly’s choice of defensive coordinator, his decision to keep Vick on the roster will be a defining one. He has already endeared himself to fans by serving as the refreshing breeze in an otherwise intolerable evening. However, by his own admission Kelly is not a personnel guy, though in reality he will provide Roseman with a fair degree of influence. Now we will find out how his actions reveal to us the kind of man he is, more so than any words typed on white paper. Will Kelly play the unpredictable, hypocritical nut, or the man of stern conviction? The choice seems clear enough… so endear the fans further.

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