The Philadelphia Eagles have had high expectations every season. But with Chip Kelly in charge of the Eagles this year, it’s hard to figure out what to expect. Yet with Michael Vick coming back to quarterback Philadelphia in 2013, according to ESPN on Feb. 11, it may give Kelly a kind of free pass for his first year.
Kelly had no choice but to stick with Vick, since no other current or prospective Eagles quarterback can fit into his system as well. However, his restructured contract is only for one year, so even if Vick redeems himself in 2013, he can’t be Kelly’s long term solution.
Yet if Vick fails in his last chance, it doesn’t mean that Kelly is a failure as well. He would look foolish for buying into Vick, when most everyone else in Philadelphia had written him off after 2012. But if things don’t work out, the Eagles can cut Vick and start their quarterback search all over again -- and then Kelly would truly be on the hook.
Should Vick and Kelly fail to make a good team, it would only last for one season. However, the Eagles would need to find a true franchise quarterback for 2014 and beyond. If Kelly makes the wrong decision then as well, it would be a greater long-term setback for him and the franchise. In that scenario, it would be prudent to question whether Kelly has a future in the NFL.
The Eagles and Philadelphia in general can’t exactly write off 2013. With the high bar that Andy Reid set in the past, and with the personnel the Eagles still have, they will keep dreaming big going into next year.
But unless Philadelphia is 4-12 or even worse in 2013, whatever happens can’t be held against Kelly. He has Vick as a handy scapegoat, although Kelly would still be blamed for ignoring all the negative signs about him. Yet while keeping Vick would be an easily correctable mistake after 2013, choosing the wrong replacement in 2014 wouldn’t be.
All the Eagles did was buy time until they find the real long-term face of the franchise. When that process begins again, it will truly be time to hold Kelly’s feet to the fire. They will be held down with Vick regardless, but any failure with him shouldn’t end Kelly’s career in Philadelphia before it really begins.