Over the last 70 days, the quarterbacks on the Eagles roster have soaked up the basic concepts of head coach Chip Kelly's offense and how to execute them. They've learned how to handle the tempo of the training sessions.
Between now and July 22, when the rookies report for Training Camp, is what Nick Foles described as a "crucial" time for the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks must prepare for Kelly's first Training Camp as a head coach in the NFL from both a mental and physical standpoint. They also have to ensure that when they return to the NovaCare Complex that they are in a position to build upon the foundation that was constructed over the past 70 days.
"We all want to continue to progress, not regress," Michael Vick said.
The only quarterback with insight into how Kelly could run a Training Camp is Dennis Dixon, who played at Oregon when Kelly was the Ducks' offensive coordinator in 2007. Still, Kelly wasn't the head coach. And Dixon has already seen differences in comparing Kelly's Oregon offense and what he's bringing to the NFL.
"It wasn't as fast as it was now. It's exciting," Dixon said. "It's a challenge, especially for the quarterback position, because we have to know everything and I think everyone in the room is handling that well right now. We're looking forward to Training Camp to see how fast we can get."
When Dixon was asked a follow-up question to confirm that Kelly's offense is faster now than the high-octane, track-style offense that averaged 49.6 points per game in 2012, Dixon did not hesitate and said, "Yes." Twice.
"I wouldn't expect anything less. I think Chip Kelly is going to want it even faster, but at the same time under control," Dixon said. "It's up to the quarterbacks to exploit that and I'm sure everybody is ready for the challenge."
This will be the first time in over a decade that there was a legitimate quarterback competition entering Training Camp. Vick openly admits that "it's tough" to be a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback and not have certainty about the future.
"I have to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side and just continue to compete," he added. "It's hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn't. That's just what I have to deal with and I'm going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise."
Foles was a third-round pick who was considered a long-shot at this time a year ago to be the backup quarterback. Foles shined in the preseason and in six games as a rookie and is not fazed by what he is unable to control.
"The only thing that's in my control is what I do on the field and (that's) playing," Foles said. "I don't go to sleep at night, sweating, wondering where I am (on the depth chart). What I can do is work hard, come out, be on the field and be a leader to these guys. Execute the plays. Make the guys around me better."
All of the quarterbacks understand that there is a lot of progress to be made. Training Camp and the preseason will determine who the Eagles' starting quarterback is going to be on Monday, September 9 at Washington. It could be Dixon, Foles, Vick, rookie Matt Barkley or G.J. Kinne. Dixon understands Kelly enough to know that fans should not expect a resolution to the battle anytime soon. When asked for a date, Dixon offered … September 5.
"It will be as long as you imagine. That's what Chip Kelly is," Dixon said. "He keeps everyone on their toes. As an athlete, you have to be ready. Whenever your name is called, you have to be ready."
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