Since the day he arrived in South Philly, Chip Kelly has said he is not married to the read-option. Said he doesn’t need a quarterback with 4.5 speed to run his offense. Said he will fit his offense around his talent.
I didn’t believe any of that.
Until Saturday when he drafted Matt Barkley.
With the selection of Barkley, a prototypical pocket passer whose best 40 time in his pre-draft workouts was a 4.93, Kelly finally has convinced me that speed isn’t a required skill for the quarterback in his offense.
“The whole scheme thing, we’re an equal-opportunity scoring offense,’’ Kelly said. “Whether we throw it across the line or run it across the line, if you have someone who can throw it,’’ you throw it.
“When I played at New Hampshire, we didn’t run the ball very much,’’ he said. “We had a quarterback who didn’t run the ball very much. Threw for 125 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and won the Walter Payton Award (Division 1AA equivalent of the Heisman). So if we can wing it, we’ll wing it. If we can run it, we’ll run it.’’
All of the quarterbacks Kelly had at Oregon during his four years as head coach were proficient runners, some better than others.
“We had different quarterbacks when I was at Oregon,’’ he said. “Really, the key is playing to their strengths. But everything we do, our quarterback’s got to be able to throw.
“To be able to play at the college level we were at or in the NFL, you have to have a quarterback who is accurate and can deliver the football and can protect it and not turn it over.
“If in fact they have the ability to run, that’s an added bonus. But that’s not the pre-cursor to what we do. We’ve said it from day one. If anybody asked me when I was at Oregon recruiting, we wanted a quarterback who has the ability to run. I do not want a running back who can throw. We’ve never been that type of offense.
“I think that’s a big misconception. We did not run the same offense that Florida did with Tim Tebow where they were running quarterback power. We never ran that play. If there was an opportunity because the defensive end bends it and there’s green grass and he can go get a first down and hook slide real quick, get up, give the ball to the official and get ready to chuck it.
“In this league, you’ve got to be able to throw the football. That’s the first skill-set we’re looking for. Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 quality we’re looking for in a quarterback.
Barkley faced Kelly’s Oregon teams four teams during his career at USC. The Trojans lost three of those games, including a 62-51 shootout last season.
Barkley’s four-game numbers against the Ducks: 108-for-175, 1258 yards, 12 TDs and 6 INTs. That figures out to a .617 completion percentage and 7.2 yards per attempt.
In the loss to Oregon last year, Barkley completed 35 of 54 passes for 484 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.