Kelly: Mobility Just “Added Bonus” For QBs

Chip Kelly has been willing to sacrifice athleticism at the QB position in favor of accuracy and decision making.

Chip Kelly has been willing to sacrifice athleticism at the QB position in favor of accuracy and decision making.

The Eagles head into the 2013 season as the biggest wild card in the league, in large part to Chip Kelly’s unique style. He insists that he will create a system tailored to the strengths of his roster instead of running a carbon copy of the Oregon offense that lit the college football world on fire. However, his secret practices, mad scientist attitude, and witty-but-cryptic exchanges with the media leave Eagles fans with precious few clues about how Chip Kelly wants his offense to look.

Though Kelly recruited athletes at the quarterback position at Oregon, he recently told the media that he would not value mobility in quarterbacks as much at the professional level.

“If […] they have the ability to run, I believe that’s an added bonus, but that’s not the precursor to what we do. We’ve said it since day one. I want the quarterback that has the ability to run. I do not want a running back that can throw. We’ve never been that type of offense, and I think that’s a misconception.”

That’s more than a politically correct non-answer to a tough question. Kelly has backed up the notion that he could start a traditional pocket passer in some big ways this offseason, firstly by drafting the slow-footed Matt Barkley and secondly by giving the ultra-slow-footed Nick Foles a legitimate crack at the starting job. More importantly, Kelly gives an indication that the Eagles offense will look drastically different from Oregon’s.

No matter what Kelly says, a mobile quarterback always played a huge role in Oregon’s offensive success. While Kelly’s plays were designed to get the ball into the running back’s hands and not the quarterbacks’, his staple zone read plays forced defenses to respect the threat of the quarterback running. That read allowed Oregon to leave a defender unblocked, giving Kelly a mathematical advantage when running the football. Should Kelly name Nick Foles the starter, he would have to do without that advantage.

Kelly would also have a hard time arguing that some of his quarterbacks at Oregon were pass-first, run-second players. Jeremiah Masoli could only latch on to an NFL training camp as a running back, for instance.

As the summer drags on, fans and sportswriters have painfully few details about Chip Kelly and how he will transform the Eagles. As a blogger, that reality can be exceedingly frustrating, but as a fan, I love that the Eagles could take the league by complete surprise in September. What little information is leaking out of Philadelphia suggests that Kelly will completely revamp the offense he ran at Oregon and make sure his best guys- regardless of their style of play – see the field.

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