Nick Foles, left, and Michael Vick, right, each led TD drives and played well in the Eagles' preseason opener on Friday. (AP)
This quarterback competition the Eagles have going could last for a while.
How long? Chip Kelly seems willing to use all of the short time he’s got before he’s forced to name a starter.
On Friday night, after Mike Vick and Nick Foles each led touchdown drives in limited action against the Patriots in the preseason opener, Kelly said he’d “pull the trigger” on his big decision before the team starts preparation for the Sept. 9 season opener against the Redskins.
Asked if his scouting and planning for the defending NFC East champs would begin before the fourth preseason, Kelly didn’t mince words: “No.”
Translation: If it takes all four preseason games to find his man, so be it.
While that sounds good in theory, waiting until after Aug. 29 preseason finale against the Jets to pick a starting quarterback wouldn’t leave very much time for the offense to get fully acclimated with one trigger man. The Eagles have fewer than 10 full practices from the end of the Jets game to the Monday night opener.
This is why most teams with unstable quarterback situations going into training camp tend to have it settled by the third preseason game.
“We have to have a quarterback in place when we’re really getting ready,” Kelly said, “and getting into the meat and potatoes of what our game plan is going to be.”
In Round 1 of his quarterback competition, both quarterbacks played two series and each played fairly well; Vick completing 80 percent of his passes and tossing a vintage 47-yard touchdown bomb to DeSean Jackson and Foles rebounding from a lost fumble to lead a 10-play, 66-yard touchdown march.
Round 2 is set for Thursday night against the Panthers, back at the Linc. Both quarterbacks are likely to get one quarter each.
Kelly said it’s easier, not harder, to make his decision when both quarterbacks put on impressive showcases.
“It would make my decision harder if neither of them completed a pass,” he said. “I think they both played pretty well, and it gave me confidence in both those guys. That’s what you hope happens. I think both of those guys rose to the occasion, and I was excited with how both of those guys played.”
Vick, who’s engaged in the first real quarterback duel of his 12-year career, didn’t seem fazed by the idea of duking it out with Foles (and perhaps Matt Barkley) for another three weeks, if that’s how long it takes.
“Not at all,” he said. “Like I said, I’m competing every day. I’m competing tomorrow. I’m competing on Sunday. I’m just trying to bring my A-game. To be honest with you, it’s a testament to the hard work and results, but you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice.
“You’ve got to be willing to give up a lot to get something in return. I understand that. Nick understands that. That’s just how we approach it. Matt understands that, and that’s just our approach right now.”
Foles said quarterbacks have too much going on right now to get caught up in worrying about the competition dragging deeper into the summer and impacting overall preparation for the Redskins.
“It’s the situation we’re in,” he said. “We’re just gonna keep working. We’re fortunate to be with the Philadelphia Eagles. I understand where you’re going with the question, but hey, we’re gonna keep working to become the best players we can be.”