Mike Vick has an unrealistic request for Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Name a starting quarterback before the start of training camp.
“Hopefully, Chip makes a decision before training camp and we won’t have to answer that question,” Vick told CSNPhilly.com, “so we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition every day.”
The quarterback battle between Vick and Nick Foles will be the dominant daily storyline at training camp this summer as the Eagles conduct their first open competition at the game’s most important position in 15 years.
Kelly, hired in January to replace the fired Andy Reid, has repeatedly said he wouldn’t be hurried into to declaring a starter and has said honest personnel decisions at any position can’t be made until the pads come out.
The Eagles wrapped up their final minicamp practice Thursday and won’t reconvene for practice at the NovaCare Complex as a full team until training camp starts July 26. Vick and Foles split first-team reps about 50-50 throughout the minicamps and both faced several questions about the impending competition.
Asked if tension could mount between he and Foles as the competition plays out this summer, Vick said, “Yeah, but hopefully we’ll have an answer by then, so I’m not going to answer that.
“I won’t want to continue to answer those questions. I won’t continue to answer those questions until Chip makes a decision.”
Reminded that Kelly has frequently said no timetable exists for the coaches to make a decision, Vick said, “Then I’m not gonna answer any questions.”
Dodging questions about the No. 1 theme of training camp could potentially bring some criticism his way, from media and fans. Many of Vick’s teammates will also be asked to weigh in on the race.
Vick isn’t concerned about any backlash that may come from being selective with questions he will answer.
“Why not? Who cares?” he said. “Y’all [in the media] kill me anyway, whether it’s right or wrong.”
A few moments later, Vick was approached again to make sure he understood that his comments were on the record. He responded by asking the reporter to print his request that Kelly settle on a starter before camp to avoid the rampant speculation.
“There’s better things to talk about,” Vick added.
Vick’s aspirations to be named the starter before camp directly contradicts Kelly’s repeated claims that he can’t evaluate positions without seeing his team in pads and simulating real game speed.
After the final camp practice, Kelly reiterated that his picture of the team is still highly incomplete.
“We have an understanding of their athletic ability and how they run, change direction and things like that. But there are still a lot of things to be evaluated when you put the pads on,” he said. “It's still a physical game. A lot of guys look great in shorts and T‑shirts, then they disappear when you put the pads on. Until we get the pads on, we can't tell.”
Perhaps Vick thought that he had already won the job when he accepted a major pay cut to preserve his roster spot. Vick restructured his deal in the offseason and stands to make $3.5 million in base salary this year, compared to Foles’ $500,000 salary. Sources close to Vick have always felt that he resigned with the idea that he would eventually be named the starter.
But in the months that have since passed, Kelly has not only reiterated that his quarterback competition would be open and expansive and that his offense didn’t need mobility from the quarterback but the team also drafted former USC quarterback Matt Barkley and added him to the race.
Barkley worked with the third team all throughout camp but Kelly has advised that reps and personnel groupings have meant nothing so far.
Moments before talking to a CSNPhilly.com reporter in the NovaCare Complex hallway, Vick had already expressed some honest frustration about splitting reps with Foles during the camps.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side, and just continue to compete. But it’s hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but that’s just what I have to deal with, and I’m going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise.”
Vick’s remarks that he wouldn’t answer questions at camp pertaining to the quarterback battle doesn’t mean the quarterback plans to boycott the media.
Vick will answer all other questions and speak to the media as often as he usually does, according to a team spokesperson who talked to Vick about those comments made to CSNPhilly.com.
Since joining the Eagles in 2009 after serving a prison sentence for his role in funding a dog-fighting circuit, Vick has been one of the team’s most approachable and accommodating players.
Not since 1997, when Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete entered camp as sparring partners for the quarterback job, have the Eagles opened training camp without a clear No. 1. The advent of social media promises to bring a festival of attention on Vick and Foles. All of their passes will be chronicled, dissected, reported on and discussed through media reports and sports-talk radio.
Asked if the swarm of attention is good preparation for handling the responsibilities that come with being the franchise face, Foles said his attention has to be centered on the team, not handling the media.
“It can’t be on answering every single question,” he said. “We will do that, but at the same time our job is to play well and win games.”