Kelly explains offense doesn't require running QB

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Kelly explains offense doesn't require running QB

Heres all we know about Chip Kellys plans at quarterback: Hell have one.Who will it be? Is he currently on the roster? Will he have to be a running QB or can he be a classic drop-back passer? Young guy? Old guy? Fast guy? Slow guy?Not a clue.Kelly, in his first full day as head coach of the Eagles, spoke at length Thursday about the quarterback position but only in general terms. He said its way too early to speculate about the future of Michael Vick and Nick Foles, but he did say there are a lot of misconceptions about the quarterback position in his high-powered spread offense.He doesnt have to be a crazy scrambler. Hes not going to carry the ball 20 times a game. He doesnt need to be the next RG3 or Colin Kaepernick.
He just needs to be good.Theres perception vs. reality, Kelly said. My quarterback last year at Oregon, Darren Thomas, who is up in the CFL, we played in 14 games, he ran for 200 yards. Everybody is like, Well, you run a running offense. Well, look at the statistics, its not that. We dont run designed quarterback runs or were snapping the ball to him and then running quarterback power.Two years ago we played Collin Klein of Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl game. The year before, Collin Klein carried the ball 317 times and Oregon running back LaMichael James carried it 271. Theyre snapping the ball and hes running. Tim Tebow, theyre snapping the ball, hes running counter, hes running power, its direct-snap stuff.Ive never been that way. Weve run zone-read concepts, man-read concepts, where its a mathematical game. If there is an extra defender in the box, your quarterback can read him and by controlling him and reading him he is basically blocking him.
Dont forget, it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick who reached out to Kelly recently to learn about his offensive concepts. Belichicks quarterback, obviously, is no RG3.
So its all about finding a talented quarterback, not necessarily a mobile, athletic one.
What Bill does in New England with Tom Brady is not a spread-option offense, he said. If someone tried to make Tommy run the zone-read, I think hed get fired, to be honest with you. You need him to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball because hes one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks ever.
Its about what tools do we have in our toolbox and what tools can we use based on the players that we have. I think what Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco and Pete Carroll did in Seattle is that they identified the strengths they had in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, and they played to them.
Mike Shanahan did the same thing with RG3, played to his strengths. Its no different than what the Colts did with Andrew Luck and what Denver is doing with Peyton Manning and what the Patriots did with Tom Brady. Any great coach identifies what their personnel is and puts them in positions to be successful. You have a wide variety of talent at the quarterback spot.The Eagles have three quarterbacks under contract -- Michael Vick, their starter for most of the last three seasons; Nick Foles, who started the last six games last year; and veteran Trent Edwards.Kelly is most familiar with Foles, who threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon in 2011 while he was a junior at Arizona.Im a huge fan of his, Kelly said. Hes tough. I think a lot of people dont understand how hard it is and what toughness means to the quarterback spot. To just be able to stand in the pocket and throw the football is tough. We hit him as many times as we could hit him and he just kept getting up and making plays.
He completed a 13-yard pass left-handed against us once and I remember just standing on the sideline shaking my head saying, What do we have to do to stop him? Hes a competitor, hes accurate, so Im excited about that.
That said, Kelly made it clear that everybody on the roster -- at quarterback and at every position -- starts out even.
I want to take a look at all of our personnel and try to make an opinion of what I think of them after seeing them on tape, he said. I dont have any preconceived notions because I dont think thats the way to go about it.
Im going to look at everybody. If you can throw the ball and run, Im going to take you out there. Ive followed Michaels career and I understand what a talent he is.
But there is nothing thats on the board right now, theres nothing thats off the board right now. Our sole focus and goal is that were going to put an offense on the field thats going to score points. Thats basically what were going to do and whoever that is, I dont know that.
Vick is due 15.5 million in base salary in 2013, with base salaries in future years of 12.5 million in 2014 and 14.5 million in 2015.But the Eagles can release him immediately after the Super Bowl and owe him nothing, absorbing only a 4.2 million salary cap hit.General manager Howie Roseman said he and Kelly havent yet discussed how to handle that. Theyll have until Feb. 6 -- three days after the Super Bowl -- to make a decision.Its pretty obvious that there is a first decision to make, Roseman said. We do have time to make that. No decisions have been made about any person on the roster. We did not tell any coach that we could or could not do anything about anybody on the roster.Surprisingly, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said the question of how to handle the quarterback position really wasnt an issue when the Eagles interviewed Kelly -- or the other candidates.
Theyre thinking long-term, so its not about whos the quarterback in 2013, its about how best to move forward for the next 12 or 15 years and have the greatest chance to win a championship.No candidate was prepared to make that decision because they hadnt studied it enough, he said. I think these coaches for the most part see a much longer-term situation, and theyre not judging where you are at at the exact moment.Theyre trying to assess where they want to be with their football team down the road. And you dont know what course thats going to take. Its impossible to know.So it wasnt a short-term decision these coaches were making. It was really what kind of football team they want. Nowadays, as I said, theres a chance every year to find quarterbacks that can be successful fairly quickly. Thats good for the league.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com.

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jerad Eickhoff pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but still came away with a loss as the Phillies were shut out, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton drove in the Marlins’ first two runs with a single and a double.

Stanton gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with a two-out base hit to right field against Eickhoff in the sixth inning. Stanton’s groundball hit rolled through the second base area, which had been vacated by the shift.

The Marlins blew the game open with four runs against the Phillies’ bullpen in the eighth.

The Phillies are 4-8 since the All-Star break and 46-56 overall.

Starting pithing report
Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Miami manager Don Mattingly pulled Tom Koehler after the right-hander pitched six shutout innings and had allowed just three hits. Koehler walked one, struck out five and threw just 73 pitches. He exited with a 1-0 lead.

Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in a win over the Phillies last week.

Bullpen report 
Andrew Bailey was charged with three runs in the eighth.

Mike Dunn, David Phelps and Nick Wittgren completed the shutout for the Marlins. 

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits, all singles, and struck out 10 times. They were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 13 the last two nights.

Stanton had been just 3 for 35 against the Phils this season before his shift-beating RBI hit in the sixth. He hit the ball much harder in the eighth inning when he clouted an RBI double to right-center against Bailey.

Adeiny Hechavarria padded the Marlins’ lead with a two-run single in their four-run eighth inning.

Ichiro Suzuki’s eighth-inning single left him three hits shy of 3,000 in his big-league career.

Health check
Rightfielder Peter Bourjos injured his right shoulder making a catch against the wall in the first inning and left the game (see story).

Minor matters
Ranger Suarez, a 20-year-old left-hander from Venezuela, pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for the Phillies’ Single A Williamsport club on Tuesday night.

Up next
The series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) pitches against Miami lefty Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58).

Peter Bourjos exits game with jammed right shoulder

Peter Bourjos exits game with jammed right shoulder

Updated: 10:55 p.m.

MIAMI — Phillies outfielder and trade candidate Peter Bourjos left Tuesday night’s game after running hard into the right field wall in the bottom of the first inning.

Bourjos had an X-ray, which was negative, and was diagnosed with a jammed right shoulder. It's unclear how long he will be out, but it seems likely he will miss several days.

"I just kind of jammed it into the wall and we'll see how it feels in the morning," Bourjos said after the Phillies were shut out, 5-0, by Miami (see Instant Replay). "There was no fracture or anything so that's good news. Hopefully it's not too long. It's just more sore and stiff right now. I think if I get a few days out, hopefully it's doing better." 

Bourjos suffered the injury while making a nice running catch on a leadoff shot to the gap by Miami's Ichiro Suzuki, who entered the game just four hits shy of 3,000.

Bourjos hit his right shoulder against the wall as he made the catch and briefly went to his knees. He left the game in the second inning and was replaced by Jimmy Paredes.

It's unclear how the injury will affect Bourjos' status as a trade candidate. The injury comes less than a week before the trade deadline. Bourjos could be attractive to teams looking for an extra outfielder and moving him would open a spot for Aaron Altherr, who could come off the disabled list as soon as Thursday.

Bourjos raised his trade stock by hitting .402 (37 for 92) with a 1.086 OPS from June 6 to the All-Star break. He has since tailed off and was hitting .136 in 11 games after the All-Star break entering Tuesday night.

Despite the struggles, Bourjos remains a top defender, as evidenced by the running catch he made on Suzuki that resulted in his leaving Tuesday night’s game.

J.P. Crawford knocking on MLB's door after overcoming slow Triple A start

J.P. Crawford knocking on MLB's door after overcoming slow Triple A start

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — After a slow start at Triple A, J.P. Crawford is once again showing everybody why he's not only the top prospect in the Phillies organization, but also one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Crawford's average was still hovering around or below .200 one full month into his promotion, and that was considered a sign of improvement. Then the 21-year-old shortstop got hot for real, batting .333 with seven multi-hit games during the month of July. His power has been coming around, too, socking all three of his home runs for Lehigh Valley over that span.

It probably was only a matter of time until Crawford's bat came alive. In fact, never before had he experienced such a deep, prolonged slump.

"It was tough," Crawford said Tuesday. "It was the first time I ever went through something like that, but thankfully I have good teammates to pick me up and keep me thinking positive. I just tried to stay within myself and I got out of it."

IronPigs manager Dave Brundage was one of the first to point out Crawford had never struggled to quite that extent, observing that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing that it happened either. Crawford agreed, adding that it's better to get the unpleasant yet inevitable experience out of the way now, before his highly anticipated arrival in the major leagues.

"I definitely would rather have it here than if I make it up there," said Crawford, notably not taking his eventual promotion to the Phillies for granted. "I'd rather learn from it now than suffer from it later."

Crawford entered Tuesday's IronPigs doubleheader batting .267 with a .341 on-base percentage and .356 slugging since his May 20 call-up. That's beginning to approach the numbers from his stint at Double A Reading, where he hit .265 with a .367 OBP and .416 slugging across parts of 2015-16.

As for what's changed, Crawford made some tweaks to his approach that helped him break out. Most of all, he's simply getting back to what made him successful in the first place.

"Just trying to stay within myself, as far as not trying to get three hits in one at-bat," Crawford said. "Recently been trying to put the ball hard back up the middle and it's been working.

"I'm just using less of my body and focused on using my hands more, like I'm used to, not thinking too much at the plate, staying confident in myself and just doing me."

Brundage suggests the reasons behind Crawford's initial struggles, aside from the challenge in making the jump to the next level, may have been a matter of circumstance for the left-handed batter.

"He had a little tough luck early on and was kind of getting his feet wet, just a lack of experience at this level," Brundage said. "I think he's getting himself more comfortable, he's feeling more comfortable with the bat, just trying to make some adjustments along the way and they seem to be working.

"He's had much better at-bats. That, and we haven't faced — not that he can't hit left-handers, because he's done a better job against lefties — but there for a run I think we faced nine out of 11 starters were left-handed against us, so that makes it a little bit tougher when you're trying to gain some experience, when you're trying to make it here at Triple A."

There's little doubt Crawford will get his first taste of the majors with the Phillies come September when the roster expands, if not sooner. He's now demonstrated he can hit at every level of the minors. There's only one step left to take, and that's up to the big leagues.

But Crawford isn't getting ahead of himself. He knows he's knocking on the door. He also understands what the expectations are once he gets there, and that there's a lot more hard work ahead.

"I mean, it's cool, but I'm trying not to think about it," Crawford said of an impending promotion. "I try to just go about my business, day by day, try to find a way to get better before the game and try to win the game that night."