As the offensive coordinator at Virginia, new Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor joined the rest of the football-loving world in watching from afar as Chip Kelly's Oregon offenses put up points in bunches every Saturday. When the two schools announced that they would play for the first time in 2013, Lazor began working to decipher Oregon's offense.
That is, until Kelly signed on with the Eagles and asked Lazor to join him in Philadelphia.
As Kelly's quarterbacks coach, Lazor will be charged with getting the most out of a group of players with diverse and game-tested talent. His priority will be to improve each quarterback's strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.
"I have to make sure that the things they're really good at, I've given them the chance to be the best in the league," Lazor said. "Then I have to take their weaknesses and try to chip away at those. It's a balancing act."
At the moment, the Eagles employ four quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Trent Edwards and the newly signed Dennis Dixon. Kelly said the starting job will be won in the offseason, which means Lazor will be working to get each quarterback ready for the starting role.
While this will be Lazor's first chance to work one-on-one with Vick, it's not the first time the two have worked together under one roof. Lazor's first NFL job was as an offensive assistant in Atlanta during the 2003 season. Because of his familiarity with how Vick approaches the game, Lazor is confident that he'll be able to help Vick build on his previous successes.
"There are a whole lot of guys in this league who have talent and abilities. But the ones who become great are the ones who put that together with the great desire to work at it," Lazor explained. "I'm excited because I know Michael's competitiveness. I think, watching the video, you see a skill set. You can probably watch ESPN highlights to see what his physical skill set is. But I've had enough knowledge of him first-hand, being in the meetings and watching him on the field and watching him accept coaching, that I have great confidence that it's going to work."
As for Foles, Lazor sees a quarterback on film who displays the kind of poise that is uncommon in the NFL, even among veterans.
"When he was in the pocket in the National Football League, he looked like he belonged," Lazor said. "He had a certain poise and calmness to him. He looked like he could play the game; it wasn't going too fast for him. It looked like, from a video perspective, he had a confidence about him. I was really impressed.
"You see a lot of guys come into this league, even years into their development, who don't give you that sense when they're in the pocket. They're jittery; their feet are moving. (Foles') head was calm, moving through the progression; his feet were calm. So I said, 'This guy looks like he can handle himself.'"
The Eagles' quarterback competition, obviously, will be worth watching as the winner will be given the keys to Kelly's offense. For Lazor, the thrill is being able to coach a talented stable of quarterbacks, who each bring talent and unique traits to the table.
"I think it's a talented position here," he said. "I think there are some teams in the National Football League that probably feel like they aren't talented enough. I feel like we have talent at the position."
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