Michael Vick has done nothing to lose the starting quarterback job with the Philadelphia Eagles, and has been named the starter for the regular-season opener against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 9.
Vick won a competition with Nick Foles with his performance in the preseason, and head coach Chip Kelly made the announcement at his press conference Tuesday.
“Nick made it very difficult,” said Kelly. “It’s not where one guy went north and the other guy went south.”
But the decision is definite.
“‘Yeah, he’s our starter for the season,” Kelly said of Vick. “It’s not a one-game trial basis.”
Kelly, who famously did not name starting quarterbacks until just before the season openers while at the University of Oregon, says the coaching staff had plenty of snaps to analyze and make the decision.
“I would think it was a thorough evaluation,” he said. “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 walk-throughs, 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.”
And from all that, Kelly liked the fact that not only did he have a starter, but reliable depth.
“The one thing we all learned from this group is we’ve got two guys and maybe even three guys (rookie Matt Barkley) that can play in this league,” Kelly said. “So it was a healthy competition. Mike completed over 80 percent (of his passes). I think Nick was at 79 percent. 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.”
Now comes the difficult part for Vick, who said he has fallen in love with football again, and proved it with his dedication through the offseason and in his performance in preseason games.
Vick was lost for six weeks last season with a concussion on Nov. 11 against the Dallas Cowboys, and injuries, including lasting only eight snaps last preseason, have been his kryptonite in recent seasons. He has started all 16 regular-season games only once in his career.
In 2012, he completed 54.3 percent of his passes with 10 interceptions.
Part of the issue last season was an offensive line that battled injury and inconsistency. Another factor was not having 2012 All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy for the second half of the season. Vick was sacked 28 times, and seven times at New Orleans on Nov. 5, the week before he was hurt against the Cowboys.
He took a pay cut to stay with the team in March, and Kelly immediately announced the quarterback job would be “wide open.”
On Tuesday, Kelly said Vick won’t need to look over his shoulder.
“This is a one-quarterback operation,” Kelly said.
Vick’s mobility and athleticism has led to projections of a bounce-back season in Kelly’s fast-paced offense. Vick has completed 13 of 15 passes (86.7 percent) with one touchdown — a 47-yard bomb placed perfectly on the hands of DeSean Jackson. He has been sacked once and has only two rushing attempts — for 20 yards.
Kelly expects Vick to play most of the first half Saturday against Jacksonville.
As for Foles, Kelly feels his No. 2 quarterback understands the dynamics of being a team player.
“Nick and Mike have a great relationship together,” Kelly said. “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.
“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.”