You can try to determine the metrics of who plays QB#1 and who fits in best at other offensive positions with Chip Kelly's spread offense, but the simple fact is a healthy Jason Peters at left tackle will be the difference-maker…
This guy was born to play winning football at left tackle in the NFL…
If he's as ready to go as he says he is, then half the battle on offense is already won for the Birds…
Nobody gets after it like Peters. He's up there with HOF'er Jonathan Ogden as a difference-maker at LT… and maybe beyond.
Jason says he's ready to go. Who am I to doubt?
I'm not even worried about his surgically-corrected Achilles tendon. I'm actually a little worried about his other Achilles tendon, or another muscle/tendon group that may overcompensate for the past physical injury which has been suffered.
But the big guy says he's Okay. And that's good enough for me.
And if it's truly "okay", then Chip Kelly's offense has a leg up on its design timetable…
In fact, the entire "native" offensive line of 2011 could be back for the Eagles to start 2013. Remember, these are all guys who were either drafted or traded for by Andy Reid. Fortunately, Kelly knows talent when he seees it and wont hold a grudge.
Here's how our guest columnist Brad Wilson from the Lehigh Valley Times sees it:
"But there's no reason for worry yet. In fact, optimism might be the default setting for Birds fans, as this past week's minicamp sessions have shown."
Kelly himself knows that what he's seeing in May and June is merely a preliminary to when things get a lot more real in late July.
"We are not going to make any rash decisions now because we don’t have pads on so it would be kind of silly to say this guy is our starting this because he did a great job in OTAs with no pads on," Kelly said. "You put the big boy pads on, some guys really step up and other guys you thought were really good and all of a sudden, ‘Where has he been’ and so it’s tough to really evaluate. To make any decisions on who someone is from wearing shorts and T-shirts, doesn’t make sense to us.”
What Kelly and his staff are doing now is evaluating what they have talent-wise, scheming, introducing their philosophies and getting familiar with their players.
Given that it's a whole new staff and a lot of new players, this is a process that may well take until Labor Day to sort out.
And that's new for Eagles fans. Under a coach who was here as long as Andy Reid, most every starting spot, and many reserve ones, were set before the preseason games even started. There wasn't a ton of competition for spots the last several years.
"But what appeared for a while under Reid as secure stability ossified into smothering staleness and, eventually, led to his departure. "
There's not a hint of staleness around Kelly. Everything's as fresh as a just-picked New Jersey strawberry.
Whether it will wind up as sweet is another question. But here's why Eagles fans should be relatively optimistic that another 4-12 disaster isn't in the works.
First, and absolutely foremost, the offensive line is back and healthy. A line of Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson will be worlds better than the waiver-wire hodge-podge the Birds ran out in 2012. Losing King Dunlap is addition by subtraction, for one, and replacing the eccentric Howard Mudd with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland's more orthodox theories will help as well.
Herremans being back at guard is a massive upgrade over Danny Watkins, one of Reid's bigger mistakes. A healthy Peters is like signing an All-Pro free agent (and who cares, really, that he missed voluntary OTAs. Did anyone think he forgot how to play tackle?).
Putting any quarterback behind the line the Eagles rolled out last season was a crime, much less a rookie such as Nick Foles. A better line will make for a better offense, period.
Secondly, genuine competition exists for every spot. Under Reid, while he may have given lip service to the idea of competition, at many positions it was pretty clear who was No. 1 and who had no chance.
Kelly's fresh eyes and new viewpoint means every spot must be earned, and that's a very healthy development for a complacent football team. That may mean immediate playing time for a rookie such as safety Earl Wolff. It may mean a real chance for a forgotten younger player such as cornerback Curtis Marsh. It may mean that when second-round draft pick Zach Ertz arrives at training camp, he'll become a starter quickly.
It also means that anything done in the past really doesn't matter so much. Safety Kurt Coleman started for two seasons? So what? Danny Watkins was a first-round pick?
Who cares? Not Chip Kelly.
Third, expect better quarterback play. Foles has a year of experience. Michael Vick, no longer the coach's pet project, knows he has to produce or he'll be gone. Matt Barkley continues to look like a steal of a fourth-round pick. And they'll be behind a better line with the same solid skill-position talent the Birds had last season. Production should increase.
There's no way to tell what Kelly's finished product will look like until, really, the Eagles take the field in Washington on Sept. 9. It's likely that there will be many, many false starts, moves that don't work, and last-second changes of direction. Under the old regime, Eagles fans didn't have to worry so much about that. Under Kelly, they do.
And that's a change for the better.