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Everyone is in such a hurry. You can add DeSean Jackson to that camp. Like so many other people in town, the Eagles' wide receiver has had enough of the quarterback competition mystery. Forget that it’s interesting entertainment. He’d just as soon skip to the end and figure out whodunit – or, rather, who will do it.
While doing a show for NFL Network this week, Jackson was asked about all kinds of topics, including Tim Tebow's signing with the Patriots and Jackson’s recent minicamp “demotion.” Not surprisingly, he was also asked to handicap the open audition between Michael Vick and Nick Foles.
“So far, I don’t know, it has been kind of even,” Jackson told NFL Network. “[Michael] Vick and [Nick] Foles have been switching off [with] first team [and] second team. So it is the same thing with them. I have been hearing some things about Vick saying that he wants to know. At the same time, the team wants to know too. We need to go into training camp prepared and know who is going to be our starting quarterback.”
Jackson added the usual rah-rah, sis boom blather about how Foles and Vick would “both do a great job” and the Eagles “will be ready for the season” regardless of who’s under center when they finally start playing games that count. About that last part: They won’t play games that count for a while. They won’t even play games that don’t count for a while.
The Eagles' first preseason game is Aug. 9. Rookies report to training camp July 22, and the full team must gather by July 25. Between now and then, there are several weeks of summer and not much else as far as football is concerned. But that hardly seems to matter to Jackson. He wants the answer to the riddle right now, or at least soon. So does Vick.
“Hopefully, Chip makes a decision before training camp and we won’t have to answer that question,” Vick told CSNPhilly.com last week, “so we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition every day.”
What Vick said wasn’t a big deal. It’s also not a big deal that Kelly wants to wait before naming a starter. It’s not even unusual. Despite the breathless pleas from Jackson and Vick to put an end to the matter before training camp even begins, the Eagles aren’t alone in staging a quarterback competition that doesn’t figure to be determined right away.
There are 32 teams in the NFL. A quick glance at those organizations reveals that at least six have yet to identify a starting quarterback: the Jets, Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders and your Philadelphia Eagles. That’s close to one-fifth of the league. You’ll notice that, like the Eagles, those aren’t good teams. And, like the Eagles, those franchises appear willing to take time to find a starter because time, unlike talent, is one commodity they all possess.
Jackson and Vick and large portions of the fan base and media might be impatient, but that doesn’t mean the Eagles would necessarily benefit from naming a starter right now. Innovative as Kelly supposedly is, how much useful information on the quarterbacks could he and his staff have possibly compiled by watching them throw passes in the NovaCare Complex backyard?
“We have an understanding of their athletic ability and how they run, change direction and things like that,” Kelly said on the final day of minicamp. “But there are still a lot of things to be evaluated when you put the pads on. 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.”
As for Jackson’s assertion that the rest of the team needs to know in order to be prepared, that might be true as the season approaches, but at the moment - many weeks removed from training camp - the importance feels over-exaggerated. At OTAs a few weeks ago, Jeremy Maclin essentially said the rotating quarterback situation isn’t an issue right now.
“What you do as a receiver, you just want to be in the right spot when you go out there and they call your number, they call your name,” Maclin said. “You just want to be available for the quarterback when he needs you. You really can’t get caught up on who exactly it is. You just have to go out there and be in the right spot.”
Finding the right spot is a fine idea. So is finding the right time for certain matters.