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.

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Islanders RW Kyle Okposo

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Islanders RW Kyle Okposo

Each day until July 1, the day free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
 
Kyle Okposo, right wing
 
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 217
Last team: New York Islanders
2015-16 cap hit: $2.8 million
 
Scouting report
One of the biggest names on the free-agent market, Okposo is a nifty puck-handler with a fearsome shot, making for a richly talented offensive winger.
 
Sounds just like Ron Hextall’s No. 1 offseason need.
 
The 2006 seventh overall pick finished last season with 64 points — which would have been second on the Flyers — by tallying 22 goals and a career-high-tying 42 assists. His last three seasons have gone for 50-plus points, while in 2013-14 he posted a career-best 69.
 
Okposo is a multifaceted scorer, understanding how to produce in a variety of ways, whether it’s using his body or skill. He knows how to play big and small.
 
The righty shot is dangerous on the power play and a bona-fide top-six forward.
 
Many believe he’s just reaching his prime.
 
Projection
The Islanders have essentially said so long to Okposo, so he’s up for grabs.
 
The Flyers have interest but it looks to be a daunting task to snag the 28-year-old.
 
With the extension of Radko Gudas and the need to re-up restricted free agent Brayden Schenn, it simply doesn’t appear monetarily plausible for the Flyers to reel in a top-six forward the ilk of Okposo.
 
Rumblings have it that Okposo could be searching for a long-term deal in the ballpark of $7 million a season. Whether he’s worth as such is one thing. Whether the Flyers could afford it is another.

I’m a believer the Flyers should seek out Okposo, but unless Hextall pulls off an unforeseen trade to surprisingly clear the barn and make room, I don't see it happening.

Phillies call up top minor-league reliever Edubray Ramos; Andrew Bailey to DL

Phillies call up top minor-league reliever Edubray Ramos; Andrew Bailey to DL

The Phillies' best minor-league reliever this season earned himself a promotion to the majors. The Phils on Friday called up right-hander Edubray Ramos and placed Andrew Bailey on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain.

Ramos, 23, had a 1.16 ERA in 38⅔ innings at Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley this season. He struck out 41 and walked just four. He was even better at Triple A than he was at Double A, allowing just one run in 23⅔ innings (0.38 ERA) for the IronPigs.

Ramos has a mid-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball. It will be interesting to see how he fares against major-league competition.

Bailey injured his hamstring on Wednesday covering first base. He stayed in the game to finish a clean inning against the Twins but limped off the field. Bailey has a 4.39 ERA for the Phillies in 26⅔ innings with 28 strikeouts.

Stumpf to rehab
Down in Clearwater, left-handed reliever Daniel Stumpf will begin a rehab assignment on Friday. Stumpf, 25, was suspended 80 games on April 2014 for violating MLB's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. 

The Phillies were nine games into their season then, meaning Stumpf would be eligible to return in Game No. 90. Barring any postponements, the Phillies' 90th game will be their final game before the All-Star break.

Stumpf, a Rule 5 selection by the Phillies from the Royals in December, allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in three early-season appearances.

Phillies-Giants 5 things: Giants aces up next, so tonight's the night to score

Phillies-Giants 5 things: Giants aces up next, so tonight's the night to score

Phillies (31-43) at Giants (47-27)
10:15 p.m. on TCN

The Phillies begin the second series of their nine-game road trip Friday night at beautiful AT&T Park in San Francisco. 

The Phils have at least a little bit of momentum to begin the set as they won their series finale in Minnesota and scored 22 runs in that series.

This will be a completely different challenge, though.

1. Giants among men
It's been Cubs, Cubs, Cubs nationally all season. And yet entering the weekend, the Giants have the same number of wins as Chicago (47-24).

It just never seems to matter which players the Giants lose or which anonymous minor-leaguers are called up to replace them. The Giants have won nine of their last 10 games despite Hunter Pence and Matt Duffy being on the DL and Brandon Belt missing a few games. 

Just look at the Giants' lineup Thursday in their win over the Pirates. Mac Williamson batted third and played right field. Trevor Brown caught and batted fifth. Ramiro Pena played shortstop, Jarrett Parker played left field and Conor Gillaspie played third base. You could argue that all except Brown are 4-A players — i.e. guys who are good enough to hit at Triple A, but not good enough to be productive at the major-league level.

It's amazing how the Giants win despite all the hurdles. Buster Posey's presence obviously helps, but he's not even having his typical MVP-caliber season. Posey is hitting .277/.338/.450, which is solid but well below his career slash line of .308/.372/.481.

San Fran has been led mostly this season by great starting pitching and the emergence of Belt into one of the best hitters in the National League. Belt is hitting .302 this season with a .409 on-base percentage. He has 44 walks to 50 strikeouts, and he's been an extra-base hit machine with 19 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs. 

2. Start No. 3 for Eflin
Zach Eflin is a level-headed 22-year-old, so it's unlikely he's going to look at this assignment and overhype himself. And if he can keep things in perspective and focus on just commanding his sinker low in the strike zone, he could find some success against that previously described patchwork Giants offense.

Eflin pitched well last week in his second start, allowing two runs to the Diamondbacks over 5⅔ innings. It lowered his ERA from 27.01 to 10.80. Tonight he'll look to get that thing under 9.00.

It seems unlikely the Phillies called Eflin up from Triple A only for him to make three starts in place of injured Vince Velasquez. If nothing else drastic happens, it looks like Adam Morgan will be the odd man out when Velasquez returns either Monday in Arizona or later in the week. But if Eflin gets bombed again tonight, who knows.

3. The night to score
The Phillies' best chance to score some runs this weekend is tonight against 35-year-old, now-mediocre right-hander Jake Peavy. Why? Because on Saturday and Sunday the Phils will face Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, who are a combined 19-4 with a 1.96 ERA this season.

Peavy (3-6, 5.47) hasn't been able to retire lefties with any regularity this season. They've hit .331 with a .908 OPS against him, although all eight home runs Peavy's allowed have been by right-handed hitters. It's obviously difficult to hit one out at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.

Peavy had an ERA of 8.21 through his first nine starts this season but has been much better since, giving the Giants four quality starts in his last five tries. Over that span Peavy has a 1.76 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and .189 opponents' batting average. He's allowed just five extra-base hits among 114 batters faced.

Peavy has a diverse repertoire. He's thrown six different pitches this season: four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, sinker, changeup and slider. His main pitches are the four-seamer, cutter and curve.

He likes to throw the cutter to lefties to jam them but it hasn't worked this season. They've hit .404 with a .575 slugging percentage in 47 at-bats ending in that pitch.

The only three Phillies to ever face Peavy are Ryan Howard, Peter Bourjos and Carlos Ruiz. Howard has had some success, going 3 for 9 with two doubles and four RBIs. Bourjos owns a triple off Peavy.

4. Prospect update
Nick Williams remains hot from a power standpoint, Jorge Alfaro is drawing rave reviews with his defense, and a piece of the Ken Giles trade debuted at Double A Reading this week. 

For more on those prospects and a handful of others, check out Friday's Future Phillies Report.

5. This and that
• The 22 runs scored by the Phillies in the Twins series were their most in a three-game span since last Sept. 27-30.

• Howard's multi-hit game Thursday was his first since April 29, a stretch of 37 games.

• Maikel Franco has five walks in his last two games. He walked six times all of April and seven times in May.