Michael Vick’s departure leaves Eagles thin at QB

Michael Vick’s departure leaves Eagles thin at QB

Michael Vick reflects on time with Eagles

March 22, 2014, 10:00 am
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After spending the last five seasons with the Eagles, Michael Vick signed Friday with the Jets, where he'll reunite with Marty Mornhinweg. (USA Today Images)

For the first time since 1998, the Eagles won’t have a quarterback named Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick.

Think about that. The last time they went into a season without either of those two on the roster, the Eagles were banking on Bobby Hoying to lead their offense.
Who could have envisioned that Vick’s reign with the Eagles would last five years when he signed that August night in 2009, just a few weeks after being released from a federal prison after serving almost two years for his role in funding a dog-fighting ring?

His time here officially ended Friday, when he agreed to one-year deal with the Jets, where he reunites with former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (see story).

For the second time in four years, the Eagles said goodbye to one franchise quarterback and forged ahead with another.

The first time, after the team dealt Donovan McNabb to the Redskins on Easter of 2010, coach Andy Reid executed the bold exchange under the belief that Kevin Kolb, a second-round pick in 2007, had been seasoned enough in his three years as McNabb’s understudy to take over the keys to Reid’s pass-heavy offense.
At that point, Kolb had just started just two career NFL games, and although he passed for more than 300 yards in each, the former Houston star came crashing back to Earth quickly. After struggling miserably in the preseason, Kolb looked spotty in the season opener against Green Bay, got knocked out before halftime with a concussion and was replaced by Michael Vick.
Vick started the next two games and, suddenly, the Kolb era had ended and the Vick ascension had just begun.

This time, the Eagles are much more equipped to move into a new era. Vick had already been usurped by Nick Foles, whose sample size and resume after two seasons is much more distinguished than Kolb’s was in 2010.

Foles, a career 63.5 percent passer with a 101 passer rating, went 8-2 last year as a starter and finished with an NFL-best 119.2 passer rating, the third-highest in NFL history. He passed for 27 touchdowns and threw just two interceptions and registered the lowest touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history.

But as the Eagles gear up for their first full season of the Foles era, they’re thinner at the position than they’ve been in more than a decade. The upcoming season will be the first since 1998 that either McNabb or Vick isn’t on the roster.

Behind Foles is second-year pro Matt Barkley, who registered a 44.6 passer rating last year in his three appearances as a rookie, and G.J. Kinne, a camp body who was signed to the practice squad a few weeks into the season and has no NFL game experience.
Despite Barkley’s struggles, he completed 61.2 percent of his passes and was thrown into the middle of games without many, sometimes any, practice reps during the week. In his final press conference, Chip Kelly touted Barkley’s progress throughout the season and seemed very enthused about the former USC star’s future.

The Eagles traded up to get Barkley atop the fourth round last April and said they had Barkley ranked in their top 50 prospects, so it stands to reason that Barkley will merit serious consideration for the primary backup spot.
Most teams like to have at least one veteran quarterback on the roster, but the list of free-agent veterans isn’t loaded with guys that seemingly fit with Kelly’s preferences.

Josh Freeman? He’s got mobility, but Kelly covets leadership and character. After a messy divorce in Tampa Bay and an ill-conceived cameo in Minnesota, Freeman will be looking for his third different employer since the start of last season.
Mark Sanchez? He could benefit from a change of scenery, but he’s also had maturity concerns along with a rampant turnover problem.
Seneca Wallace? At his age and with his durability concern, not a great fit.

Jimmy Clausen? No thanks.

The best fit for Kelly’s system is a quarterback who’s under contract but isn’t part of his current team’s plans. Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor is likely the odd man out in Oakland, which just traded for Matt Schaub and had already promoted Matt McGloin over Pryor last year.

With the Raiders likely to draft another quarterback, the 6-foot-6, 233-pound Pryor is almost definitely headed for the exits. Pryor, who clocked a 4.38 in the 40, is freakishly talented athlete who could probably have his talents maximized in Kelly’s offense.

The Eagles need to add someone for depth and to push Barkley for the No 2 job.

Buy, hey, it’s better than worrying about who’s No. 1.