Chip Kelly once was in awe of Nick Foles

Chip Kelly once was in awe of Nick Foles
January 16, 2013, 7:37 pm
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What does new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly think of the young quarterback he inherited?

He wont meet the Philly media until Thursday afternoon, but we already have a pretty good idea how much he likes Nick Foles.

On Sept. 24, 2011, it was Kellys job to stop Foles when his Oregon Ducks met the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, and all Foles did was complete 34 of 57 passes for 398 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against the No. 10 team in the country.

Oregon won 56-31, but Foles led Arizona to three straight touchdowns after Oregon took a 35-3 lead, making it a 35-24 game. He was sacked six times, absorbed numerous punishing hits according to game accounts, and at one point, under extreme pressure and flushed out of the pocket, he threw left-handed to running back Keola Antolin for 11 yards and a first down.

Foles, who started the last six games of 2012 for the Eagles, is big and accurate but slow and lumbering and certainly doesnt fit the model of a sleek, fast, mobile Kelly-style quarterback.

But Kelly sure raved about Foles after that game in 2011.

Ill tell you what -- Im glad Nick Foles is graduating, Kelly told reporters covering the game, according to the Tucson Citizen newspaper. I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. ...

Nick is a hell of a football player. That kids a warrior. Hes as good as anyone in the country.

Against Nick Foles, we knew this game wasnt in hand.

What does that mean for the Eagles moving forward?

Who knows. The Eagles still have Michael Vick under contract, and obviously a healthy, young, speedy Michael Vick would have been a perfect match for Kellys warp-drive offense.

But Vick will be 33 before next year begins, hes missed 11 games because of injuries the last two years, and its clear hes lost a step or two as a runner since he arrived in Philly in 2009.

Vick did actually put up fairly good numbers last season after throwing six interceptions the first two weeks of the season against the Browns and Ravens.

The rest of the season, before his concussion against the Cowboys on Nov. 11, he completed 59 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions and an 83.2 passer rating, and averaged 5.9 yards per run.

The Eagles can release the 2010 Pro Bowler for three days immediately after the Super Bowl without owing him a dime and costing only a 3 million cap hit.

Because this years draft is weak at quarterback and there arent any top free agents likely to hit the market, Kelly might not have a lot of options at quarterback in his first year as an NFL head coach beyond a QB who would have been perfect for him 10 years ago and another who lit up his college team two years ago.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com