It seems as if it's so far, so good in the early relationship between Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick and his new Head Coach, Chip Kelly.
The former Oregon Coach is seen by many to be Vick's last chance to make a serious impact in the NFL, before the league cuts ties with him altogether. He appears to be tailor-made for the fast-paced Kelly offense as he looks to make the transition from the College ranks to the National Football League. It seems to be a favourable situation for both parties.
Providing Vick wins the job, of course.
Kelly has made no secret of the fact this off-season there is a serious Quarterback competition in Philly. As we enter the second week of Organised Team Activities, that was all too evident. It seems that last week's impressive display from Vick during OTA's was not enough for Kelly to announce him as the team's number one option going into the season. What's more, during Tuesday's practice, it was Nick Foles who took the majority of snaps on the first day this week, giving Vick a clear indication that it will take a lot of hard work if he is to win the job he has called his own for the best part of four seasons.
If Vick is fortunate to win the starting job, he will have a much better opportunity to showcase his talents than he did last season. One of the reasons for this will be the clear improvement the Eagles will make on their offensive line. After a disappointing season that saw the team accumulate an abysmal 4-12 record, they found themselves with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft. They invested the pick in Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson, who should be a first-day starter at Right Tackle, Vick's blind side. With the return of Left Tackle Jason Peters, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, Vick now has two book-end tackles he can trust to keep him upright long enough to go through his progressions. This is something that he was unable to do for the majority of last season, when he was sacked an incredible 28 times before he was finally knocked out of the season with a concussion in week 10.
Vick must also help himself if he is to get that sack number down this season. He has always had a tendency to hold onto the ball for too long due to his lack of awareness in the pocket. Whilst his feet used to get him out of trouble more often than not when he first entered the league, he is no spring chicken anymore. He has developed his play in the pocket noticeably during his time in Philadelphia, and further improvement will have to be made if the Eagles are going to get back to relevance under Kelly this season.
It is widely acknowledged that Kelly's offense is ideally suited for Vick, given the Quarterback's talents running with the ball. The danger with Vick running more is the number of hits he would receive. This is a signal-caller that hasn't completed a 16-game season since he signed with the Eagles, being hit 288 times in the last 3 seasons when running and passing. That's too much for anybody playing in the violent domain of the NFL to cope with. Kelly has been very shrewd giving Nick Foles first team reps, as the chances of Vick completing a full season are practically nil.
Vick does have a sense of urgency regarding his position with the franchise, given his age and contract status with the team. Vick is now 32 years of age and will be 33 by the time Week 1 is underway. His style of playing the position suggests that he doesn't have much longer at the top unless serious alterations are made. He also had to re-negotiate his contract to remain at the Eagles this season. Vick was due to make $15.5 million in the final year of his contract, which, in these tight salary-cap times, the Eagles were never going to pay. His new deal could see him earn up to $10 million, providing he thrives under this new offensive scheme and reaches all the incentives in his contract. His long-term future is uncertain, but the Eagles will have no choice but to offer Vick an extension if he can reach the Pro-Bowl level of performance he has previously in his career.
If he is to do that, he will need some help.
The Eagles receivers have a huge part to play in the teams progression under Kelly. His offense is designed to get the football into the hands of the Playmakers on the team early and often. In Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, they have three players who rely heavily on their speed and elusiveness, perfect traits to implement into this offense. Jackson, in particular, is key. He has the ability to change the course of games and he will surely be the focal point of this offense. Expect Kelly to use him in a variety of positions as he looks to maximise the gifts of his star receiver.
It will be up to Vick to get to grips with the Playbook as quickly as possible if the Eagles are to hit the ground running under Kelly. During his time in Atlanta, Vick wasn't known for his commitment to study. Since his release from prison, his priorities have changed. He became a student of the game as he looked to re-establish himself as one of the NFL's elite Quarterbacks. Kelly's system is complex, fast-paced and will take some time to perfect. Whether or not Vick can learn the new scheme at his age or not will be the deciding factor in him winning the starting position.
That said, you get the feeling it is his to lose. As much as the Eagles are saying they like Nick Foles, there just isn't enough evidence to suggest he is capable of being a starter in the NFL. The former Arizona standout had a Quarterback rating of 79.1 during his time under center last season, throwing for 1,699 yards, 6 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. Many critics believe Foles isn't mobile enough to run Chip Kelly's offense and there was even talk he would be traded before the season began. Everybody gets a clean slate when a new coach comes in and Foles has been given the opportunity to win this spot. Early signs have not been good, Foles was erratic and took far too many risks in a rain-soaked practice on Tuesday.
The wildcard in this is scenario is Matt Barkley, the former USC Quarterback prodigy, who the Eagles drafted in the fourth round of this years draft. Barkley, who was projected as the Number One overall pick before the 2012 College Season, suffered an alarming drop in the Draft as scouts concerns over his decision-making and arm strength affected his stock. Very few expected him to fall into the Fourth Round (98th overall), which suggests Barkley could be a steal for the Eagles in the long-term. He will be given a year to learn the system, as he is not expected to start immediately. There is a possibility he could end up being Vick's backup and if things don't go as smoothly as projected he could get his chance to prove his doubters wrong following his disappointing senior season for the Trojans.
So, as much as it feels like a fierce Quarterback controversy could be brewing in Philly, there is little doubt the job is Vick's, at least for the time being.
What happens after that, is anyone's guess.
One thing is for sure, Michael Vick is in the last chance saloon.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_