This is a really fun time to be an Eagles fan, if only because after years of run-pass ratio, red zone performance and we're-really-hiring-whom? all the current arguments are New! and Fresh! and Exciting!
Official IgglesBlog beat writer (it's a lifetime award) Les Bowen gave his take on the Vick vs. Foles debate this morning. Read it if you haven't, but suffice it to say, he's ready to move on.
In truth, I'm ready to move on, too. I respect the hell out of Vick as a player -- he's one guy you'll never see give up on the football field, unlike so many of his recent teammates -- but he's old and busted and I'm ready for the new hotness.
The problem is that there's no obvious new hotness available. And boy does that suck. After years of a crumbling marriage that's finally -- finally! -- over, we're the still-plenty-good-looking woman who walks into a singles bar ready to take advantage of her newfound freedom only to run smack dab into a motley assortment of bitter old retreads or skeevy-looking cougar hunters.
And now we'll run as far away from that analogy as possible.
Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are facing two different optimization problems. The first is right in front of them: How to win games in 2013. Big issue. But maybe not as big as the other problem, which is how to win lots of games in 2014-?? and hopefully maybe even a trophy.
There are places on the roster where these two areas aren't in conflict, mostly regarding talented youngsters like Cox, Kendricks, etc. Snce they'll be around for awhile, we plug them into hopefully good roles and then just keep developing them.
But there are lots of other areas where that isn't the case. Defensive scheme, for example. What's our long-term plan? Are we trying to move to a pure 3-4 -- but we have all these expensive DEs for now so we need to figure out how to get some value from them even as we start phasing them out -- or are we comfortable running some sort of hybrid over the long-term where a guy like Brandon Graham could mostly play like a DE most of the time even if we call him something else?
And then the big one. Quarterback. There are lots of different ways to run a hurry-up spread offense. It can look like RGIII or it can look like Tom Brady. Would Kelly be fine running the a pass-heavy, immobile QB version for the long-term? Or is he committed to his read option running attack that requires a quarterback who can, at the very least, keep defenses honest.
Which brings us back to the short-term vs. long-term deal. If he's somewhat scheme-agnostic -- just give him a QB and he'll figure out how to use him -- there could be a place for Nick Foles. We know he played in an offense in college that did a lot of the things Kelly says he likes to do (spread everyone out, get the ball out quickly, for the love of God don't take sacks). On the other hand, Foles will never be able to "keep defenses honest" with his legs.
So, if Kelly isn't scheme-agnostic ... if he really believes in the run-based version of his offense, then it's probably the wrong choice to go back to Foles this year even if you believe he gives this team a better chance to win games in 2013. You'd be spending an entire season NOT practicing the things you care about and NOT getting the rest of the offense ready for the long-term simply because you can't do the things with Foles that you want to do going forward.
If this is what Kelly's thinking, then Vick is the right move, as much as people may not be happy to see it. Vick can do the run-spread. He's a veteran, professional quarterback who can hold things together during what will be a learning experience for everyone, then you swap him out at some future point when you finally have the guy you're ready to commit to over the long-term.
(Especially if you can re-jigger his contract to pay him less money and get him entirely off the books when he's gone a year from now.)