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Eagles' QBs feeling their way in Kelly's new offense

Despite some miscues, Michael Vick and Nick Foles think they are on their way to learning the new, uptempo offense.

The Eagles have a lot of learning to do, along with a lot of winnowing of players, in the early days of the Chip Kelly era. (Matt Rourke/AP)
The Eagles have a lot of learning to do, along with a lot of winnowing of players, in the early days of the Chip Kelly era. (Matt Rourke/AP)Read more

THE WONDERFUL World of Chipper isn't just going to arrive full-blown in a stream of seamlessly choreographed, no-huddle artistry, everybody prancing in time to the thumping dance-mix beat.

The Eagles have a lot of learning to do, along with a lot of winnowing of players, in the early days of the Chip Kelly era. This was apparent yesterday as the team allowed reporters their second look at an Organized Team Activity. (Back in the day, you might have called it "practice.")

Michael Vick didn't have a particularly sharp day throwing the ball, and seemed to get fewer reps with the first-team offense than Nick Foles. LeSean McCoy left practice early with a knee problem that apparently wasn't serious. Fletcher Cox, Cary Williams, Jason Peters, Patrick Chung and offensive-line coach Jeff Stoutland all got stuck in the South/Southwest by Sunday evening's bad weather and weren't in attendance.

Passes clanged off hands; offensive linemen jumped offside. The blaring music seemed ratcheted up to ear-bleed levels, perhaps in an attempt to inject some intensity.

Afterward, Vick estimated that about a third of the offense has been installed.

"Everybody seems comfortable, the quarterbacks seem comfortable, the receivers, the running backs," Vick said. "You still have plays here and there where we're all kind of lookin', trying to get a feel for what we need to do, but for the most part, I'd say we've been 85 percent accurate on everything."

Vick was asked how he felt he threw.

"I think I threw it pretty good. I think it can always be better. We can't let the heat, like Chip says, you can't let the elements have a mental block on what we're trying to do," Vick said at the end of a deceptively steamy morning. "Just gotta continue to get better. Some days are better than others, but tomorrow I expect to come out and complete at least 95 percent of my passes."

That last part was said with a smile.

"It's not the same terminology, not the same pass concepts," Vick said. "Routes are run at different depths. You just gotta make the adjustment . . . It's fun when you get it."

Foles, last season's promising rookie, agreed that the QBs are getting more comfortable with every day of work. The team convened for 3 days last week, broke for a long weekend, then will work 3 days this week and next week, before wrapping up with sessions June 4-6. Training-camp dates at NovaCare have not yet been announced.

"The more you're in a system, the more you rep plays, you just get more and more comfortable, because visually you're seeing it, you're going through it, you're studying it, and I think the big thing is everybody else is getting more comfortable and working together," Foles said. "So you're able to feel like, 'If they give us this coverage on this route, I know the receiver's going to do that.' "

Dennis Dixon, who played for Kelly at Oregon, said he isn't answering a lot of questions about the system from perplexed fellow signalcallers.

"I think Chip Kelly likes to make things simple," Dixon said. "I don't think he wants to make anything difficult."

Dixon said that while the fast pace and the signals from the sideline can be a challenge, if the QB knows the right keys to read, his decisions aren't complex.

Foles said he tries to relate what he's learning to what he has learned in other offenses.

"At the beginning, you're just trying to filter through it. You just want to play full speed. It's a day-to-day thing," Foles said. "But in my mind, I really just try to simplify it. When we first got the playbook, I got a play, 'This is similar to a play I had last year or a play I had in college.' So I try to go back in my history of when I used to run the play and then just play. Just put the pieces together . . . and before long, you have the whole offense in your head."

Yesterday seemed to feature a decent amount of read-option work by Foles. This was the stuff he was supposed to be too lead-footed to attempt. Foles seemed to attempt it just fine, though with no pads and no tackling, it was hard to project whether a similar Folesian foray in a game setting would be a disaster.

"I feel comfortable with it. I've done it before," Foles said. "I think if you run it successfully, it's a great play. As a quarterback, you've just got to be able to get a couple 5-, 10-yard runs a game, and you know it puts the defense on their heels, because they really have to watch out for you . . . They don't want to give up a big run to the quarterback, I'll tell you that . . . I feel comfortable. I feel more comfortable every day running and letting my athletic ability out there."

Even practicing at Kelly's frantic pace, dividing reps among five QBs means nobody gets a ton of opportunities on a given day. Vick was asked whether it would be easier to settle in on a less crowded QB landscape.

"You don't get an opportunity to get all the reps you would if it was less quarterbacks," he agreed. "But, hey, you got to get as many mental reps as you can. That's what I try to do; I try to sit back and watch the other guys read the defense, think about the concepts and the plays, and try to be the best I can be when I step out there."

Vick also was asked about his radio interview last week, when the leading active NFL fumbler, with 87, contended that Kelly had cured him by showing him a new way to carry the ball (after 103 career starts, and advice from just about every coach Vick has ever had).

"I always feel like I'm carrying the ball the right way. I feel like last year I fixed some things," said Vick, who fumbled 10 times in 10 starts last season, losing five, including the backbreaker that was returned for a touchdown just before halftime at Arizona, when Vick failed to sense blindside pressure.

"When I'm running with the ball, I still have a tendency to keep it loose. He pulled me to the side and told me, 'Hold it like this.' I tried it and it felt good."

Today on Check out the photo gallery from Monday's practice.