By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA-At some point the newness of having Chip Kelly as the Eagles latest head coach is going to settle into what kind of team he and general manager Howie Roseman plan to put on the field.
That means the Eagles—namely Kelly and Roseman are going to be evaluating how guys like quarterbacks Nick Foles and Michael Vick will fit in the team’s plans for 2013 and beyond.
“I don’t want to have a preconceived notion when I turn the tape on. I want to see what the tape says,” Kelly said. “Not I know this about them because sometimes that can cloud your judgment. I think you’ve got to make a legitimate judgment of watching the film. There’s enough film of the guys on our roster to evaluate where we are.”
In Vick’s case, the team has until Feb. 6 or they will have to pay him $15.5 million. Considering his injury history and his penchant for turnovers, the Eagles will likely release Vick or get him to renegotiate his deal if they want him to stay.
According to the NFL Network, Vick has reportedly said he wants to stay in Philadelphia and would be willing to take a pay cut.
Meanwhile, Roseman said Kelly will be involved in the personnel process and the players they keep on the current roster and players selected through free agency or the draft will be defined by what the head coach deems as important to what he wants to do on the field.
“It’s very important for all of us to get a clear definition of what (Kelly) is looking for at every position,” Roseman said. “The more time we spend together and the more time we educate our staff, our scouts and our coaches about it, the easier it will be for us to do that.”
At this point, Roseman said he wants Kelly to go through the current roster to get a better idea of what he thinks about the personnel before he shares his perspective. The Birds general management made it clear that personnel decisions have to be defined by the needs of the head coach.
The one thing that Kelly was quick to make clear during his confabs with reporters this week about his offensive scheme was that whoever is under center for the Birds, they will not be running the ball from scrimmage as much as the running backs.
“That’s perception versus reality,” Kelly told reporters last Thursday. “My quarterback last year, Darron Thomas, who’s up in the CFL, he played in 14 games, he ran for 20 yards. But everybody is like well you run a running offense. Look at the statistics, we don’t run designed quarterback runs where we’re snapping the ball to him in the running quarterback power.
“We’ve run zone-read concepts, man-read concepts where it’s a mathematical game if there’s an extra defender in the box, the quarterback can control him by reading him. He’s basically blocking him.”
In Thomas’ last year (2011) at Oregon running Kelly’s offense, he ran the ball 56 times for 206 yards (3.7 yards per game) and three touchdowns. Back in 2010, the year the Ducks played for the national championship, Thomas ran the ball 93 times for 486 yards and five touchdowns.
Thomas’ and Marcus Mariota’s passing numbers were more impressive than their rushing numbers in Kelly’s offense. In his final year with the Ducks, Thomas completed 62. 7 percent of his passes and threw for 2,761 yards with 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
In Oregon’s loss to Auburn in the 2010 BCS National Championship game, Thomas completed 27-of-40 passes for 363 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mariota, who started as a freshman, ran the ball 106 times for 752 yards and five touchdowns. As a passer, he threw the ball over 300 times and completed 68 percent of his passes with 32 touchdowns. He passed for 2,677 yards.
When Kelly was asked if he would bring in the 6-3, 215-pound Thomas for a tryout with the Eagles, his answer was non-committal, saying he had to evaluate the roster He said he believes that Thomas would make a good quarterback in the NFL.
Perhaps the most important thing that Kelly will have to shore up with the Eagles is the defense. Last season, the defense was often the reason the Eagles lost games. There were definite weaknesses at linebacker and in the defensive backfield.
Kelly recently interviewed Giants linebacker coach Jim Herrmann for the defensive coordinator position. The new Eagles head coach made it clear that he wants the Eagles to be aggressive on his defense—something they haven’t been for the last couple of years.
“In terms of what we want to be, we’re going to be an attacking style defense. It’s going to be a group of people who dictates the tempo of the game,” Kelly said. “What that spacing is in terms of is it a 4-3 spacing or 3-4 spacing, I think it’s, again, looking at our roster and understanding who I have the opportunity to bring here.”