If the offense Chip Kelly runs here bears any resemblance to what he used with so much effectiveness at Oregon, the Eagles will have a run-based, true spread offense that operates with intelligence and variety.
What the Eagles lacked more than anything in these last few seasons on offense was a direction, a personality if you will. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg designed some creative concepts, but they broke down in functionality and they often defied explanation. The search for big plays -- namely in the passing game -- replaced practicality too many times.
Oregon's offense was far more run oriented and logical than most casual fans would believe. Yes, the Ducks had the pistol formation and, yes, the quarterback was generally very mobile with the run/pass option. But the bread-and-butter of the offense was the running game, and with LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Dion Lewis and Chris Polk, the Eagles are extremely well stocked at the position.
You'll likely see different run concepts -- how many times did Brown run the stretch play in his rookie season, with the options of taking it to the sideline or reading the defensive end and cutting up the field? -- as the Eagles play to their offensive strengths.
How about the quarterback position? Does Kelly favor a quarterback who is going to employ the read-option scheme, or will he use more of a drop-back approach, or is it going to be a combination of the two, and then some?
Don't know the answers. But I do know that Kelly wants certain things in his quarterback, as all head coaches do. We saw Baltimore's Joe Flacco win a Super Bowl by having virtually a flawless post-season and, in the process, exhibiting some mobility and nimble feet that not many had given him credit for prior to his Lombardi Trophy run.
Kelly clearly needs his quarterback to have an NFL-capable arm and high intelligence and the ability to make fast, correct decisions. Good feet are important, as is the ability to anticipate a pass rush and have the deft to escape defenders and buy time in and out of the pocket.
The question we've all asked since Kelly came to town is how he feels about Michael Vick and Nick Foles, the two starting candidates on the current roster. Kelly hasn't offered any clues to his feelings, nor has there been any clue about the scheme Kelly will run when the Eagles have the football.
There are some basis truths in the NFL regarding the position, and one of them is that a quarterback, no matter how elusive and mobile and dynamic out of the pocket, must have the ability to make plays from the pocket in the passing game. There is just no other way around. No matter how novel the scheme, the measure of true, long-term success is how the offense functions when the improv is shut down and the quarterback must operate from within the pocket.
Thus, the offensive line must be secure. The receivers must run their routes properly. The backs must help in pass protection.
And the quarterback must step up and throw his throws, delivering his passes with accuracy, timing and confidence.
Does Kelly have the perfect candidate in either Vick or Foles? Not necessarily. Vick has a history of too many turnovers and too much time on the sidelines with injury. Maybe a new scheme, a fortified offensive line and some flexibility to allow Vick to improvise more would make him a more effective, consistent quarterback. Foles is still in the developmental stages, so it's hard to have true read on him, but the critics would say that he has to improve his delivery mechanics, his foot quickness and his decision making in the passing game.
I suspect that Kelly is going to play to what he has to work with offensively, and that's quite a bit. The Eagles are likely to address the line of scrimmage, and if they can fortify the offensive line, they have a chance to be as effective and dynamic as any running game in the league with the talent they have at running back. The days of 35 to 40 passes are, I suspect, waning in Philadelphia.
I don't know who *the quarterback is going to be for the Eagles in 2013. I *think I know some of the characteristics he has to bring to the table, which obviously aren't all that revolutionary. A quarterback must be great to play in the NFL, that much we all know.
As the speculation continues and the Eagles make us wait for their next move -- hiring and announcing the coaching staff, making some calls on contracts, etc. -- the topic of who plays quarterback for 2013 and beyond will continue to be front-burner for all of us.