Chip Kelly has put his faith in Michael Vick's dynamism to run Kelly's unique offense. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Anyone who watched Michael Vick play over the first two weeks of the preseason likely knew this was coming, but Eagles head coach Chip Kelly announced Tuesday that Vick would be his Week 1 starter with Nick Foles serving as the backup.
"I think Mike is ahead right now," Kelly explained. "I think Nick made it very difficult."
Vick and Foles split time as the Eagles' starting QB last season -- Vick started the first nine games before getting hurt, Foles took over for the next six, then Vick returned for Week 17. Kelly provided both ample opportunities to win the job in training camp this time around, rotating them (and, on occasion, rookie Matt Barkley) in with the first-team offense. Vick started Philadelphia's preseason opener with New England, while Foles led the way this past weekend against Carolina.
To Kelly's point about Foles hanging in the competition, the second-year QB hit 5-of-6 passes in relief duty against the Patriots, then connected on 6-of-8 attempts versus the Panthers, though he did throw an interception. Carolina picked off Vick, too, but that has really been the only mistake he's made thus far in the preseason. Over Philadelphia's two exhibition contests, Vick has gone 13-of-15 through the air for 199 yards ... and has looked more electric than Foles in doing so.
And that is what Kelly's decision probably boiled down to with the Eagles still three weeks away from a Week 1 Monday night showdown in Washington. Not only does Vick allow Kelly to keep a handful of true read-option calls in the playbook (as opposed to using short passes over QB runs with Foles), but also Kelly's wide-open offense has highlighted Vick's creative improvisational abilities thus far.
"I'm having fun playing football, and I fell in love with the game again and I am thankful for that," Vick said after Philadelphia's win over Carolina.
A free-wheeling Vick may be able to rediscover some of the magic he showed earlier in his Philadelphia career and as one of the NFL's most thrilling players during his time in Atlanta. Vick's best season with the Eagles came in 2010, when he helped Philadelphia claim an NFC East title by completing 60.2 percent of his passes, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and rushing for nine touchdowns.
Of course, he also missed four games that season to injury after wrestling the starting QB job away from Kevin Kolb. Therein lies the rub with Kelly's decision. While Vick certainly makes this offense more of a threat than Foles could, he has not played a full 16-game season in any of his three years as the Philadelphia starter.
Given how often Kelly's offense could ask Vick to clear the pocket and make plays with his feet, he may have trouble getting through all of 2013, too. So Foles may still get his chance further down the road.
Kelly also will have a decision to make later in the year if the Eagles cannot stay in playoff contention with Vick at QB. The 33-year-old Vick is set to be a free agent after 2013, while Foles and Barkley are locked up through 2015 and '16, respectively. A slow start by the Eagles might force Kelly into an early decision about his team's future at quarterback.
For now, however, this is Vick's offense to run. Even as the Eagles learn Kelly's schemes and adjust to life without injured WR Jeremy Maclin, opposing defensive coordinators will not look forward to preparing for this attack.
What may be Vick's last shot to start in this league coincides with Kelly's first shot at bringing his unique style to the NFL. Together, they have a chance to make Philadelphia a dangerous foe.