Chip Kelly has described Michael Vick in glowing terms before, so an endorsement of the 32-year-old quarterback is not new. But Kelly continues to insist that Vick possesses the required skills, and mitigating circumstances last season hindered him from reaching his potential.
“Mike can still play," Kelly said in an interview with the NFL Network." When you evaluate a quarterback, you have to evaluate everything. The losing of three or four offensive linemen for the season, he took a lot of hits. You as a quarterback when you drop back hope that that guy is going to be blocked, and when we miss a block and he ends up getting hit, it’s not the quarterback’s fault.
"When you sit down and analyze what his skill set is and what he can still do, he can still throw the football, still accurate with his throws, he’s extremely tough. There was no question in my mind that I wanted Michael to be back on this team.”
Kelly has also praised Nick Foles in the past two months, so a statement like the one he made on Vick does not mean Vick is the starter. In fact, the Eagles could easily draft a quarterback in two weeks who could supplant both Vick and Foles.
However, the Eagles did not bring Vick back to be the backup. Vick will need to win the job -- it will not be handed to him -- but he will also have every opportunity to be the starter. It goes back to what Kelly said -- the "skill set." Kelly will try to hone that skill set, but in Kelly's eyes, the tools are there.
Two other points to touch on from the interview...
**Kelly was asked how the hashmarks change his offense. This is a good question, because as interviewer Steve Wyche pointed out in the question, Kelly was able to use the wide side of the field effectively at Oregon. The hashmarks are different in the NFL (70 feet, 9 inches from the sidelines, so Kelly must adjust. He admitted it affects him, but he answered it in a similar way to his answer for any rule change.
"I’s not like that rule only affects us – it affects everybody else that we play against," Kelly said. "In college football, people tried to use the wide side of the field, but in the NFL you’re not going to get as much wide side of the field use. The game is a little bit more balanced at the NFL level but no matter how you’re doing it the same rules apply to all 32 teams.”
**The Eagles continue to preach "best player available" in the draft, and Kelly is on board with that. As Howie Roseman has cited, the Eagles have struggled in the past when they reached based on need. Kelly reiterated this point in the interview. And free agency has at least offered options to help with some of the needs, even if those needs are completely solved.
“You look at the history of this, when people make mistakes it’s when they kind of reach for something that probably isn’t there," Kelly said. "We feel right now that we don’t have a need, [that] we have to take this. We’ve put ourselves in a position to take the best player that is available.”