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.

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

VOORHEES, N.J. – Five games.

That’s what the Flyers are facing this coming week, which is why coach Dave Hakstol had his players involved in a full scrimmage Sunday morning at Skate Zone.

“I like it better than practicing,” offered Michael Raffl. “A little more action. A little physical and it gets you in game shape. I enjoyed it.”

The Flyers have two split-squad games on Monday – one in New Jersey against the Devils and other in Brookyln against the Islanders.

The scrimmage was up-tempo. So much so, Raffl and defenseman Will O’Neill were involved in a dangerous collision in the left corner that could have been disastrous with both players getting up slowly, but uninjured, on a puck chase.

“I don’t know, I was coming in hard,” Raffl said. “At first, I thought about playing the body and then I didn’t want to. So I was mixed in-between trying to slow down and there was a lot of contact as I fell into the boards. I felt fine afterwards.”

Raffl hit his neck awkwardly and was lucky to be uninjured. O’Neill took the hit.

“I went into the wall and knew he was coming and tried to be strong on my feet,” said O’Neill, a free agent signed over the summer. “Contact play in a bad area. Tough part of the ice.”

Hakstol held his breath there.

“It could have turned out differently,” he said. “It was kinda awkward play. You’re always happy to see him pop up and come out for another shift right after that.”

Raffl’s gray team won the scrimmage, 2-1, with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov setting up a play that resulted in Brayden Schenn’s game-winning goal from Wayne Simmonds.

“Good tempo, competitiveness … kind like the first few days where tempo and work levels were good,” Hakstol said of the scrimmage. “It tends to be a little scrambly in those first scrimmages.”

Jordan Weal centered the top line with Schenn on the left. Hakstol has Schenn on the left right now to get him used to playing there again. Once Claude Giroux returns from the World Cup of Hockey, the top line of Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds will be reunited.

“I made the play up there to Simmer and a nice pass by Provy to me and then Simmer back door to Schenn,” Weal said of the game-winning goal. “It felt good ... I’ve played just one game in nine months.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for being on the right side of pucks. It’s not going to come in the first game.”

Weal was impressed with Provorov.

“He’s a really good player,” he said. “You can see it in his skating, his passing. He’s got a lot of confidence. He tore up the WHL and that’s a great league. It’s going to be exciting to see him moving forward.”

Hakstol rated Provorov as “solid and efficient” in the scrimmage.

Loose pucks
Steve Mason worked with Carter Hart in goal … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz worked for the black team. Mason didn’t give up a goal. “We have eight exhibitions on the schedule and I will get into three or four of those,” he said. “By the time those wrap up, I’ll be where I want to be. Right now, I am feeling great which is a good start.” … Hakstol said Mason won’t play on Monday … Rookie forward Travis Konecny sat the scrimmage out (maintenance day). He said he was given a day off, but Konecny was receiving treatment by the medical staff on Saturday. “I see the trainer every day, I’m fine,” he said. Konecny should play in one of the split-squad games on Monday … Greg Carey had the other goal for the gray squad; Nicolas Aube-Kubel had the lone goal for the black squad … The defense rotated for both teams. Provorov was with Philippe Myers much of the game … Jakub Voracek practiced on his own. He won’t see action in the first three games and neither will Shayne Gostisbehere because of the World Cup, Hakstol said ... The scrimmage consisted of  two, 25-minute periods with a running clock. Sounds like the Public League, no?

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

NEW YORK -- Alec Asher’s two-seamer was nearly perfect against the Mets on Saturday night — even if the pitching line was attached to his name was decidedly less so.

The rookie exited after five innings with four unearned runs attached to his name — two Phillies’ throwing errors on playable ground balls will do that — but lowered his ERA to 1.66 in a 10-8 victory that was far, far closer than it needed to be.

Lost in the shuffle of the Phillies bullpen’s attempt at self-immolation was just how effective Asher’s newly-developed two-seam fastball was in the early innings against the Mets’ full lineup. The relatively slow pitch — it was sitting around 90 MPH Saturday — generated six popouts during his perfect first trip through the batting order.

“Being able to throw a pitch that’s not straight works wonders,” Asher said. “Last year, I didn’t really have success throwing the four-seam, so just adding that little bit of movement misses barrels, [generates] mishits and gave me a lot of ground balls and weak contact, which is all I can ask for.”

Opponents are batting just .182 off Asher’s two-seamer in his four starts this year, according to data from Fangraphs.com, a complete 180 from his disastrous September call-up in 2015.

In his first major league starts, Asher struggled to establish a mound presence with a four-seamer that nearly touched 95 MPH. Opponents batted .250 and got seven extra-base hits off the four seamer as Asher finished 2015 with an ugly 9.31 ERA.

The Phillies challenged Asher to generative more movement on the pitch and he returned in Spring Training with an entirely new repertoire.

So far, the effort has paid off.

“It’s outstanding. It’s been a real good pitch for him and his changeup,” manager Pete Mackanin said of Asher’s two-seamer. “He didn’t have either pitch last year, and for him to come up with it over the course of the winter and throw those pitches so effectively is huge.”

Asher relied on the changeup to escape the fifth inning — the only high-stress situation he faced all evening.

With four runs already in, a fifth runner poised on third base and a Citi Field crowd beside itself in hopes of a miracle comeback, Asher got pinch-hitter James Loney to top a low changeup out of the zone down the first base line that Tommy Joseph stopped with a dive.

“[I wanted] just to slow the game down and take it pitch by pitch,” Asher said.

Even if Saturday wound up being perhaps a bit more frantic than he would have liked to be, Asher has developed a formula for future success as he prepares for his final start of the season next Friday — also against the Mets — and 2017.

“Just establishing the fastball, commanding both sides of the plate and changing speeds,” he said.

His two-run single in the first inning on Saturday night — his first two career RBIs and, ultimately, the winning margin — was a bonus.

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