Eagles QB Battle: Does Dennis Dixon have a head start?

Eagles QB Battle: Does Dennis Dixon have a head start?
February 28, 2013, 2:00 pm
Share This Post

Only one of Chip Kelly’s quarterbacks has ever played in the coach’s offense.

Only one of Kelly’s quarterbacks has ever participated in a Kelly practice.

Only one of Kelly’s quarterbacks has ever watched game tape or studied in a classroom with the new Eagles coach.

Of the four quarterbacks on the Eagles’ roster, only Dennis Dixon has some semblance of Kelly’s system, philosophy and coaching style. He ran the Oregon offense in 2007, when Kelly was a first-year offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Bellotti.

One would naturally assume that Dixon’s experience and pedigree would be advantageous in the open competition for the starting job that Kelly has claimed will ensue when spring camps begin.

One would be presumptuous.

“We just wanted to get another quarterback on the roster,” Kelly said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, continuing a trend of the team downplaying Dixon’s addition. “I’m familiar with Dennis. Before you get a chance to see anybody else I know Dennis’ skill set and I know him firsthand.  I know what his makeup is so we felt real comfortable. He’s got a chance to come in and compete.”

Compete to start, alongside Mike Vick and Nick Foles?

“One thing I can tell you, I can’t predict the future so I have no idea,” Kelly added. “But I think with the amount of reps we have in practice everybody is going get a shot to throw the football around -- and the best players are going to play.”

When the Eagles officially signed Dixon on Feb. 14, they further clouded an already murky situation. Those who believed that Kelly’s system would be catered to an athletic, mobile quarterback assumed that Vick and Dixon had cemented spots and that Foles would be headed for the exit.

Foles’ name soon came up in trade reports, but Kelly last week expressed his interest in coaching his second-year quarterback out of Arizona, who performed well against Kelly’s defenses whenever Arizona and Oregon played each other. Nobody has ruled out the possibility that the Eagles take another quarterback in April’s draft and head into their first camp with five competitors, also including Trent Edwards.

Dixon’s connection to Kelly from their season together could be viewed as an asset to edge Foles and Vick, but those familiar with Kelly’s college career have said that the coach’s offense changed dramatically from year to year, so much that the Eagles' playbook likely wouldn’t resemble the 2007 Oregon version.

Kelly was asked last week if Dixon would be an interpreter of sorts, helping other quarterbacks transition to the coach’s offense.

“Terminology, probably no, because we’re drastically different in 2012 than I was in 2007,” he said. “There’s not going to be be a whole heck of a lot of carryover for Dennis from a terminology standpoint.

“But he knows me. He knows how I want to practice. But I wasn’t the head coach in 2007. Mike Bellotti was. It’s not like it’s totally foreign to him. He will have a little bit [of an advantage], but I don’t think he has an advantage that some people think.”

Dixon started just three games for the Steelers, who picked him in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He went 2-1 and completed just under 60 percent of his passes but hardly showed glimpses of the lethal pass-run threat who led Oregon to an 8-1 record and No. 2 national rank before he tore up his knee.

Dixon hasn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game since Sept. 19, 2010, and spent all of last season on Baltimore’s practice squad.

After he signed with the Eagles earlier this month, Dixon said he was told that he would have every opportunity to compete for the starting job.

“From my understanding, the job is open,” he said. “So there will be a very competitive nature around here [and] may the best man win.

“As a competitor I like, and anybody in their right mind would like, competition, and that’s what we have. And I’m quite sure Mike Vick and Nick Foles would say the same thing as well. We’re just excited to work and let the chips fall where they may.”

Latest News