COMMENTARY | Ever since the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select Matt Barkley in last month's NFL Draft, analysts have been speculating about how a slow-footed pocket passer will fit into new coach Chip Kelly's offense.
Such speculation assumes, first of all, that we know what Kelly's offense is going to look like at the professional level.
We don't. Not entirely, anyway.
Most of us will agree that the spread-option offense Kelly ran with the Oregon Ducks won't work in the NFL. At least not exactly the way it's worked for Oregon. It's going to require some tweaks here and there, and Kelly has said more than once that he can adjust his offense to his personnel. I saw him do that with the Ducks, and I expect him to do that with the Eagles.
It's also a bit of a misconception that Kelly's offense, as he ran it at Oregon, requires a mobile quarterback. It doesn't. It requires a smart, decisive quarterback who can read defenses and make adjustments on the fly, and if that quarterback can run, so much the better. But running QBs are not what Kelly's offense is all about.
Enter Barkley, who had success at USC while proving himself to be smart, decisive and good at reading defenses. Scouts wonder if he's got the arm strength to really zip the ball downfield, and that's a legitimate concern, but the fact that he's not a Michael Vick-type running QB isn't. If the Eagles are able to develop Barkley's talents, Kelly will make adjustments to the offense that put him in a position to succeed. So this isn't a square-peg, round-hole scenario, by any means.
Barkley was one of three offensive players the Eagles snagged in the draft, and while he's the most intriguing from a speculation standpoint, I don't expect him to make the biggest impact early on.
Athletic offensive tackle Lane Johnson is a great addition for the Birds, as is the athletic Zach Ertz at tight end. Notice a trend here? Kelly goes after athletes, then finds different ways to use them on the field; with the Ducks, he created the "tazer" position -- a hybrid running back, tight end and slot receiver -- to provide new ways to get the ball into his playmakers' hands.
We can expect some ingenuity like that from Kelly, and I think it's fair to assume that the Eagles will be playing an up-tempo game with an emphasis on scoring points. It might even be fair to assume that the coach will remain somewhat aggressive on fourth down, if his go-for-it mentality carries over from Oregon.
But what, exactly, the offense will be remains a mystery, and we probably won't see the playbook opened up very far until after the season has begun.
So with that in mind, trying to determine how Barkley -- or any of the Eagles, really -- fits into Chip Kelly's offense is a backwards endeavor.
I'm more interested in seeing how the new coach tailors his offense to fit his personnel.
Adam Sparks has followed the Philadelphia Eagles since the 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2010.
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