Chip Kelly met with his quarterbacks on Tuesday to tell that that he has chosen his starting quarterback for the regular season.
It will be Michael Vick, not Nick Foles, taking the snaps come Week 1.
The announcement came as somewhat of a surprise, as Kelly was only expected to name a starter for Saturday's game against Jaguars. By now, fans should know to expect the unexpected from Camp Kelly.
"Coach [Kelly] called me in this morning," Vick said. "I told him thank you, I appreciate it and I won't let you down."
Through two preseason games, Vick has been stellar. He is 13-15 passing for 199 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also has two rushes for 20 yards.
Foles kept it close, however, going 11-14 for 96 yards and an interception. Foles also added three rushes for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Kelly admitted to reporters that while this made the decision more difficult, it also should be taken as a positive. Both quarterbacks, according to Kelly, raised their game, rather than one tanking and the other becoming the de facto starter.
"It wasn't where one guy went north and the other guy went south," said Kelly. "I think both [Vick and Foles] upped their games. But at this point in time Mike's ahead."
When Vick met with reporters, he agreed that Foles played well enough to earn the job, and went as far as to admit to he felt "guilt" over how things went down.
"It's gratifying that I had to earn it, nothing was given to me," Vick said.
The 33-year-old quarterback believes his backup will "be a good quarterback in this league for a long time" and wants to continue treating this as a competition, adding that it would "be a shame if I let up right now."
Vick may be looking over his shoulder with Foles - and Matt Barkley for that matter - waiting in the wings. Kelly, however, doesn't want his starter to feel that way.
"This is a one‑quarterback operation," Kelly told reporters. "This isn't going to be someone's got to look over their shoulder or we're going to alternate by series."
Vick's teammates were also surprised by Kelly's announcement - not in that he chose Vick, but because they weren't expecting a decision so quickly.
Damaris Johnson wasn't aware of the news until reporters asked him about it.
DeSean Jackson told reporters that he found out when it scrolled across the television screen during lunch.
Jackson added that he agreed with the move, saying he thought Vick "fit the offense the best" since day one, echoing a statement he made earlier in camp.
Kelly's decision to go with Vick could mean the end of the Nick Foles era, as the Daily News' Rich Hofmann points out Foles' value is high enough that the team should consider trading him. Kevin Kolb, anyone?
While it is now clear what this means for the regular season, how will this impact things in the short-term, specifically for Saturday night's game?
Kelly said that Vick will get the most snaps in practice this week, and will likely play two quarters against the Jaguars in the team's third preseason game.
The Eagles open the regular season on September 9th against the Redskins.
Here's a full transcript of Kelly's meeting with the media:
COACH KELLY: We've evaluated the situation, and Michael Vick is going to start for us against the Washington Redskins. He'll get the predominant amount of reps this week in practice, and he'll play, hopefully, our plan is the first two quarters in the Jacksonville game, and into the third. Just depends. We'll make adjustments at halftime depending on how many snaps we get.
I met with all the quarterbacks this morning. They all understand the plan and know where we are going forward. So with that, we'll open it up.
Q. You say against the Redskins?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he's our starter for the season. It's not a one‑game trial basis.
Q. What was your evaluation?
COACH KELLY: I would think it was a thorough evaluation. We had 16 opportunities in the spring with them. With voluntary minicamp, mandatory minicamp and ten OTAs. We had 20 practice opportunities here while we were here at the NovaCare, plus two preseason games. So that gave us 38 opportunities, along with walkthroughs, along with meetings, and actually phase two we were with those guys. So we felt like we had a good amount of tape, a good amount of us seeing them on the field, and seeing them in a lot of different situations, and wanted to put a guy in place, if we could, in enough time to get us to prepare the season.
Q. What questions did you have about Mike coming in, and which ones did he answer?
COACH KELLY: I didn't have questions. It was just how was this going to express itself at the quarterback position? And I thought the one thing for all of us going into this, we didn't have any preconceived notions of how this was going to work itself out.
Over the course of time, we let it play itself out. The one thing we all learned from this group is we've got two guys and maybe even three guys that can play in this league. So it was a healthy competition. Mike completed over 80%. I think Nick [Foles] was at 79%. I think they both made each other better. I was really happy with how those guys handled the situation. Because it can at times get testy. It can at times be one guy competing other against another, but I thought it was a healthy competition, and I thought it brought out the best in both of those guys.
Q. Is there a certain impetus for this?
COACH KELLY: No, not at all. We wanted to let it express itself. It's the same thing when people asked Mike the question in the spring, ‘would you like to name a quarterback then?’ I would have liked to have named a quarterback then, but it wouldn't be a fair evaluation. We felt with what we did in the spring and 20 practices and two games, we had enough to go on. Obviously, you always want to get a guy in place. We didn't want to let this linger. But it also expresses itself on the field.
Q. How did Nick Foles take the news today?
COACH KELLY: Nick was great. Nick is a professional. He was outstanding. Nick and Mike have a great relationship together. They're both pulling for each other and that is part of it. For us to have a good football team, two key ingredients are chemistry and attitude. When you see two guys like that approach this situation in that manner, I think it reflects great on the entire team.
But you've got two class guys in Mike and Nick, and I think they're both rooting for each other. You don't have to look any farther than last night's game with the Redskins, where RG3 [Robert Griffin III] is on the sideline and Kirk Cousins goes down in the second quarter, and they're down in the third quarter.
In this league, you better have a couple of quarterbacks ready to go. I mentioned that again to Nick today. I think Nick is going to approach it that he's the starter, because that's got to be his mentality going into this and prepare like he's a starter. And Mike was great when I met with him.
Mike said I'm going to look at this like it's an open competition, because I've got to go out and continue to get better every day. So I think both of those guys and really the entire quarterback room and meeting with those guys, I think their attitudes have been outstanding.
Q. Did you meet with the rest of the team?
COACH KELLY: No, I just talked to the quarterbacks.
COACH KELLY: I met with them this morning.
Q. Both guys are healthy, Nick and Mike going into the regular season, they're both definitely on the roster?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. Did Michael show you something maybe in training camp or the OTAs that maybe you didn't expect from him after watching the tape when he got the job?
COACH KELLY: No, I said that before. I didn't have any preconceived notions. It's very difficult to judge somebody when you don't know what they're asked to do. I think Coach [Bill] Belichick said that last week when someone was asking about a question.
It's tough to judge somebody. You don't know what he was told to do on that play by his coaches. So when I watched tape a year later or two years later, you can say he was wrong. Well, maybe he was told to do that. I don't know. All we looked at was when we were evaluating guys, you can see their skill set. How well do they throw the ball? How do they set their feet? Are they in balance and all those other things. But it's difficult to say he made the right decision on this place or the wrong decision on this place based upon I don't know what he was told to do.
Q. You said back in spring you hoped process would play itself out in the way it would become obvious who should start. Do you think that's what it proved?
COACH KELLY: I think Mike is ahead right now. I think Nick made it very difficult. It wasn't where one guy went north and the other guy went south. I think both of them upped their games. But at this point in time Mike's ahead.
We want to move forward. This is a one‑quarterback operation. This isn't going to be someone's got to look over their shoulder or we're going to alternate by series. I think Mike is ahead right now.
Q. What are the possibilities for the ball downfield. He did that the first game, not much the second game. But there were definitely opportunities he took advantage of. How much did that play into your decision that he showed you he can do that?
COACH KELLY: I think they can all do that. I've seen Nick do that too. It's not a question of one guy's arm. It didn't come down to that.
Q. When Mike Vick said he fell in love with the game again due to your coaching, what did that mean to you as a first‑year head coach in the NFL and to your coaching staff with the way you've approached it with these quarterbacks and for him to pay you that compliment?
COACH KELLY: To be honest with you, and please don’t take this the wrong way, I don't know how the question was asked, so I don't read much into it. Sometimes when you read something, you read a blurb that someone said this.
Q. Has he conveyed that to you?
COACH KELLY: Personally, no. Mike has conveyed that he's having fun playing football, and that is evident by being around him. But it's the same with Nick, the same with Matt. We've got, I think, as a group a bunch of guys that love playing this game.
You look at G.J. Kinne who wants to run down on the kickoff squad. He's one of your quarterbacks. I think we've got a team with a bunch of guys that love football. Jason Kelce is like that, Pat Chung is like that. I think it's infectious, but it's fun to be around a bunch of guys that are like that. I don't need to see a statement by somebody to know how they feel, because we're around them every day. There is an energy in this building right now that it's fun to be around.
Q. How do you determine the difference between Mike's ahead, Mike maybe had a better practice and now is the time to call it?
COACH KELLY: Just as the whole thing went through. We had 38 opportunities to take a look at them. So I don't think this was a rash decision by any stretch of the imagination.
Q. Over the years you've watched Michael from afar. Having worked with him now, is there anything about him that surprised you or impressed you more than you expected?
COACH KELLY: I don't know. I mean, I honestly didn't watch him from afar. I was doing my job wherever I was. I was just like a typical fan. I'd see some highlights of him playing up against the Packers in that playoff game or one of the runs he had against the Vikings.
But I never really had a chance to watch a ton of NFL football when I was in college, because I had a job to do. So what impresses me about Mike though is that he really has fun. He enjoys playing this game, and it's great to be around guys that love playing football.
He has a passion for this game, and those are the things. Not that Nick doesn't. Nick has a passion for this game too, I think it's really important that we have a bunch of guys like that. But that's great for us as a staff to be around a bunch of guys that love the game like that.
Q. Have you seen anything emerging, you talked about all those times in spring camp when you talked about evaluations, have you seen an emergence going into training camp?
COACH KELLY: No, because I've always regarded in spring we're wearing shorts and T‑shirts. It's not football. It's learning a system. It's we were all new, they were new to us. So we looked at all of that, but it wasn't an emergence as we were going through that. It was just kind of over time, I think it was evident to us in terms of where they both were. They both play at a high level, I just think Mike played at a higher level.
Q. How does Mike fit into what you do offensively?
COACH KELLY: I think what we do is dependent on who the quarterback is so we can fit anybody into it. I've had guys that have been, their strengths are their arm, and other guys, their strengths are this, their strengths are that. I think part of what we do offensively and I think part of being able to get a guy in place with a couple of weeks before the first game is kind of finding out what he's comfortable doing and really getting feedback from him.
Because I think in maybe some situations, the quarterbacks aren't going to tell you what they like and don't like while there is an evaluation going on. They may think the evaluation is part of them liking and not liking something. I had that conversation with both of those guys today. I think maybe we can be an even more open of what do you like and what don't you like? Because we need to put the best game plan together when we play the Redskins.
I think there is the next step for us to take, and I think in naming him, we'll get a better understanding of that. I would be leery myself if I was in a competition to say that you're going to say you like everything because maybe they're going to judge me on what I like and don't like. We've stayed away from that a little bit. Now as we start to get into this, it will be a little bit more player‑specific in terms of us being able to run some things on the offensive side.
Q. How were you ‑‑ September 9th is three weeks away, are you able to start preparing for the Redskins early?
COACH KELLY: Not preparing for the Redskins in terms of just overall in the scope of things. We got 14 quick plays in. Which 14 do you feel the most comfortable with? We've got six screens. What do you feel better in? What do you like? Starting to get a feel for the individual player. We've done it in some situations with our individual positions. What does DeSean [Jackson] like running better than he doesn't like running. What does he ‑‑ it's not like, or not like they're dictating likes and dislikes. It's what do you feel comfortable running?
Or do we need to drill this play more so you understand it from a better concept and can wrap your arms around it a little bit more. So it's more getting an understanding of where they're coming from and getting feedback from those guys. That's in every position. Especially in the passing game with the wideouts and the quarterbacks.
Q. What is your evaluation of Matt Barkley without giving him any first team reps?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we have a fair evaluation of where Matt is. I'm excited about Matt. I think he's got a bright, bright future in this.
We've said since day one, it is nothing to do with who else is in there. If you locate the football and the receiver drops it, that's not your fault. I think too much is written into that. Well, he threw the ball, but the receiver dropped it. That's bad for the quarterback. No it's not. It's a great decision, great for the quarterback, and that's how he's great or not.
Now that receiver that dropped the ball, that goes into his evaluation also. So I think sometimes maybe too much is written into that part of it.
Q. When you make your evaluation, is it strictly on the field or do you engage the locker room?
COACH KELLY: We evaluate everything.
Q. How much are the starters going to play on Saturday?
COACH KELLY: We'll play at least the first half and make an evaluation at halftime where we are rep‑wise and the depth situations. So there are a lot of factors, but our plan going in are the first two quarters at least and we'll reevaluate at that point in time.
Q. Did you go into this with the idea of naming a quarterback for Saturday, or was it your intention all along to name one for the season?
COACH KELLY: The intention all along with the quarterback deal was we were going to let it express itself.
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