Vick More Suited to Kelly’s O ffense

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks to Michael Vick during a preseason NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks to Michael Vick during a preseason NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Philadelphia — If Chip Kelly wants to reach for the stars in his first season as Eagles coach, the only logical choice would be to start Michael Vick at quarterback.

The competition between Vick and Nick Foles has not yet reached its end, but after two preseason games it has become clear that Kelly’s up-tempo, destined-to-succeed offense can only reach its full potential with Vick under center.

Foles, who has been solid in both appearances, could aptly get the job done if given the nod. The same might be said of rookie Matt Barkley, who improved upon last week’s NFL debut in the Eagles’ 14-9 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

But Vick provides more in both the passing and the running game. He can execute both a pro-style and read-option-based air attack. And the greater threat he poses as a rusher will only aid the Eagles running backs.

His performance against the Panthers, following a sharp outing against the Patriots a week ago, was nearly flawless. The array of throws was impressive and the comfort he showed in the pocket was something we haven’t seen in nearly three years.

Now would be a good time to point out that Vick’s last two seasons happened, and that similar sentences about his off-the-charts ability have been written before. It’s also important to note that it’s the preseason, that the Panthers don’t exactly return a top-ranked defense, and did we mention that Vick has disappointed before?

But even his detractors can’t deny what he has done this preseason. Could Kelly finally be the first coach to survive with Vick as his quarterback? The defense is far from championship-caliber, but if the Eagles have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs (yes, we said it), wouldn’t Vick give Kelly his best chance?

While Foles adroitly worked the offense down the field with dink-and-dunk passes — as he did against New England — Vick never hesitated to throw into the Panthers secondary. The sample of plays remains relatively small, but Foles has yet to complete a pass that went beyond 10 yards.

Foles’ deep and intermediate ball accuracy was the main concern many had about the second-year quarterback after his six starts as a rookie. He has yet to ease those concerns. He’ll likely have another opportunity next week in Jacksonville, but the clock is ticking.

Vick’s preseason passing numbers thus far have been impressive. He has completed 13 of 15 passes for 199 yard, one touchdown and a desperation heave before the half that was intercepted. Foles has also been sharp, hitting on 11 of 14 throws for 96 yards. But he tossed an ill-advised interception with the Eagles at the Carolina 8-yard line.

If Foles has an edge in one category, it has been his efficiency running the up-tempo offense. The time in between plays has been minuscule. He opened the Eagles’ first possession by completing 6 of 6 passes.

Foles has also proved that Kelly doesn’t need a mobile quarterback to make his oft-used read option plays work. He has looked more decisive than Vick in making those split-second decisions. But there were also two fumbled shotgun snaps Thursday night.

The Eagles did score on Foles’ second possession, but running back LeSean McCoy’s ankle-breaking moves on two runs provided most of the yardage. Foles keenly took advantage of space and ran 7 yards for a touchdown.

He has run three times for 23 yards and a score in two games. Vick, surprisingly, didn’t have a carry until he darted 14 yards on his second drive. He picked up the first down in the blink of an eye and, of course, did not slide. He kept the ball on the option on the next play and took a shot after 6 yards.

That’s the other rub with starting Vick. How long before he gets injured? He has missed 11 games with various injuries over the last three seasons.

But Kelly isn’t likely to make his decision based on “what ifs.” The belief here is that he won’t make it on the assumption that the younger Foles or Barkley gives him a better chance at long-term success.

Kelly will pick the best quarterback.

And it helps if the best QB is the best one for his offense.