Fantasy mini-camp: Why Matt Barkley helps Michael Vick
Division: NFC East
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Player to watch: Michael Vick
Odd as it may sound, the fact that the Eagles drafted Matt Barkley should make folks feel better about Michael Vick this season.
When Chip Kelly left the college game for a shot at the NFL in Philadelphia, the collective assumption had the offensive guru bringing his exact offense from Oregon with him. Acquiring mobile quarterback Dennis Dixon (starred at Oregon when Kelly served as offensive coordinator) added to the notion.
To an extent that is what is happening, but more from a philosophical standpoint and not a pure Xs and Os. Kelly wants an up-tempo attack and a fast-acting quarterback at the helm, but not necessarily a running QB taking snaps as was the case with the Ducks.
Sure, that elusive element is one presumptive starter Michael Vick offers and will use. Same goes for Dixon (last played in an NFL game in 2010, but was specifically added to the roster because of his familiarity with Kelly's system). Nobody is imagining a scenario where Nick Foles (drafted by Andy Reid last season) or Barkley end up consistently making plays up the field with their feet, giving further credence to the idea that Kelly is not specifically seeking a fleet of foot QB to run his fast pace system.
We understand that Vick will take a pounding because if for no other reason, it is clear he has yet to grasp how best to avoid them. Yet, if the lefty adheres to Kelly's principles in the pocket - get rid of the ball in less time than it takes to read this sentence - he should indeed be victim to fewer hits. Further help comes from the Eagles talented offensive line getting back on the field after four starters went down with injuries last season, including tackle Jason Peters. Philadelphia also drafted Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson in the first round.
Because in college Kelly coached against Foles (Vick's primary competition) and Barkley (epitomizes the notion of a pocket passer), we can assume he believes the pair can keep up, tempo-wise. Because there is a major difference between Philadelphia's QB subsets, we also can and probably should believe that Kelly will make adjustments as needed and not simply stay true to his system, unlike Steve Spurrier with the Redskins.
Obviously, the Eagles have game-breaking weapons in LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. Tight end Brent Celek is a viable option. In time, rookie Zach Ertz might be more viable. Factor in a healthy OL and there is reason to believe that for as long as Vick is healthy, he will post legitimate fantasy numbers. Unless Kelly's plans come with an actual protective bubble around No. 7, Vick will once again not play a full 16 games. As a fantasy starter, that's brutal. As a QB2, that's doable.
There are plenty of concerns with Philadelphia this season, most notably Kelly making the leap from college to the pros - and whether he ultimately tries to reinvent offense in the NFL no matter is said now. There are least some signs that his schemes may not be as radical as once thought. Drafting Barkley is one of them.