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Vick is in his 11th NFL season, Foles in his second. We examine Chip Kelly's options at quarterback.
Each week, the Stats & Information Group will look at a noteworthy discussion topic and debate the possibilities that come from it, using data to support the stances.
This week, we examine the Eagles quarterback situation going forward when Michael Vick returns from injury.
Why Vick should remain the Eagles’ starter
Chip Kelly’s offense has always been predicated on establishing the run game to set up the pass.
Last season, Kelly’s Oregon Ducks team ran on 63 percent of its plays, ninth-highest rate in the FBS and more than 11 percentage points higher than the FBS average.
That philosophy has not changed drastically as Kelly made the transition to the NFL. The Eagles are running the ball on 44 percent of their plays, fifth-highest rate in the league and more than six percentage points higher than the NFL average.
With Vick under center, the Eagles have averaged 2.4 more yards per rush than with Nick Foles at the quarterback.
Eagles Rushing by QB, This Season
The Eagles have run 136 zone-read plays this season, the most in the league and 66 more than any other team. The Eagles have run a zone-read on 72 percent of the team’s rushes with Vick, compared to 57 percent with Foles.
On such rushes, Vick has kept the ball nine times for 126 yards compared to once for three yards for Foles. The zone read would not be as effective when the quarterback is not a running threat.
The Eagles’ passing game does not suffer much with Vick under center. Vick has more yards per attempt than Foles. Vick does have a lower completion percentage than Foles, but Vick’s average pass attempt travels 11.3 yards downfield, highest in the NFL and more than four yards deeper than Foles’ average pass distance.
Why the Eagles need to switch to Foles
Chip Kelly has rejuvenated the Eagles’ running games as Philadelphia leads the league in rushing yards per game entering Week 7.
Kelly calls runs to set up short, manageable third downs for his quarterbacks.
In college football last season, Oregon quarterbacks led the country with a 98.6 Total QBR on third and less than five yards to gain. The Eagles have run the third-most offensive plays on third down with less than five yards to gain this season.
Eagles Third-Down Passing by QB
This season, Foles has completed 80 percent of his passes on third down to Vick’s 41 percent. While Foles would be on pace to lead the league in third-down completion percentage this season, Vick’s completion percentage on third downs is the lowest in the league (minimum 10 attempts).
While Vick has consistently thrown farther downfield, Foles has been far more efficient when doing so. On pass attempts at least 15 yards downfield, Foles lead the league in completion percentage (58.3) and yards per attempt (17.6) this season (minimum 10 attempts).
Another facet of Kelly’s Oregon offense was protecting the ball in order to sustain long drives. During Kelly’s Oregon tenure (2009-12), the only FBS teams with lower interception rates than Oregon’s 2.1 percent were Alabama (1.5) and West Virginia (1.9).
Since 2012, only Tom Brady has a lower interception rate than Nick Foles. During that span, Vick has thrown an interception on 2.5 percent of his pass attempts, much higher than Foles’ 1.5.
Additionally, Vick has lost seven fumbles since 2012. The only player who has lost more during that span is Mark Sanchez.