With all of the changes that Chip Kelly has made this past off-season, one of the most talked about was probably what he was going to do with the QB 3 position. After signing second year player Mark Sanchez to a multiple year deal and practice squad player G.J. Kinne changing position to WR in an attempt to make the final 53 man roster, Kelly was left with Matt Barkley. While Matt had been with the team for a couple of years there was no significant signs of growth or development in the eyes of his head coach. The 2013, 4th round pick had accumulated 300 yards passing, 4 interceptions, and 3 fumbles in the 4 games that he played in Philadelphia. With these lackluster statistics in mind Chip Kelly signed the media mesmerizing and former Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow. This battle for the final QB roster spot consumed many from OTA’s to “Cut Day” following the final preseason showing. When it came down to it Kelly traded Matt Barkley for a conditional pick and to some, shockingly released Tim Tebow. There were those who predicted that Kelly would release Tebow and only run two passers, however news feeds everywhere fired up once Eagles announced they were looking for another QB and eventually claimed Stephen Morris off of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This seemed a little unconventional, but let’s face it, what did you expect with Chip? At 6’2″, 213 pounds, 23 year-old Stephen Morris attended the University of Miami and started all 12 games both his Junior and Senior year after winning the starting job. Between those two season Morris passed for 6,213 yards, 42 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions for a combined 143.6 rating. Morris also lost 5 fumbles over the two years in the starting position. So with these stats, you can easily see that there are is some positives and negatives that we can take away before ever seeing the young player step on the field.
We will start with the negatives and get them out-of-the-way. Morris has a very strong-arm and has the confidence to match it and this is where he gets himself into trouble, because of his overwhelming confidence, Morris attempts passes to receivers that sometimes are to well covered and this leads to turnovers. The one thing that you can not do in the NFL is routinely turn over the football because of bad judgement. During his senior year at Miami Morris battled an Achilles tendon strain which caused him to step weakly into the pocket losing velocity and tightness of spiral causing balls to be very inaccurate at times. Morris has struggled with accuracy throughout his college career and that seems to have traveled with him to the NFL considering he was waived by the Jaguars who are weak at his position. At the 2013 Senior Bowl Morris received the nickname “Tin Cup” after the 1996 blockbuster because of his ability to make extremely impressive passes but failed often on routine plays.
On the other hand there are a lot things that you can get excited about with having Morris as a project player on the roster. He was a standout at the Manning Passing Academy in 2013 playing next to the nations best quarterback recruits ans showing flashes of pure potential. He also stepped up again at the scouting combine and showed off his athleticism with a 4.63 40-yard dash, 9’3″ broad jump and 4.49 shuttle run. Morris is a very tough and naturally athletic player with the ability to maneuver, escape, and extend plays with ease. This elusiveness matched with what CBS Sports called a “Golden Arm” is one of the reasons that why Chip Kelly was drawn to him. With Kelly’s high-octane offense and simplified, QB friendly scheme, Philadelphia may be just what his young player needs to develop into what scouts saw early in his career at Miami.
Below are a couple of clips from “Eagle Eye in The Sky Podcasts” that showcase Stephen Morris’ abilities during this years preseason. Hopefully Bradford stays upright for 16 and we don’t get to see Morris in regular season this year, but it would be nice to watch how he progresses after a year under Chip Kelly.