When asked by “NFL AM” which NFC East quarterback he feared the most, New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, who is not at all lacking in talent, answered: “Dennis Dixon.”
Dixon was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 18 and is expected to compete with Michael Vick for the starting job. But neither Dixon nor Vick are guaranteed to start. Oregon coach Chip Kelly also has second-year quarterback Nick Foles and a veteran quarterback, and I use that term loosely, in Trent Edwards.
Dennis Dixon isn’t very well known and you’d probably be surprised if I told you that he earned a Super Bowl ring earlier this month. He never played for the Ravens but was signed to their practice squad last year. Before that, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which drafted him in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.
Dixon has only started three games in the NFL, but those three games do a good job exposing his strengths and weaknesses. He is a big yet fast quarterback, able to run a 4.49 40-yard dash despite his 209 lbs., 6’3” frame. So it should come as no surprise that he ran 59 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts in just three starts.
Between his speed, long strides, agility, and ability to find holds and make cuts like a running back, it is clear that Dixon could become a great dual-threat quarterback. He is also very good at throwing on the run and has a big arm. However, in his three NFL starts, he threw for 399 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, indicating that his passing skills could use some improvement.
Dixon is also kind of rusty since he hasn’t played in a single NFL game since 2010. His major advantage over Vick, though, is that Kelly was his offensive coordinator during his senior year at Oregon.
While on the topic of Vick, I think that having him there to compete with Dixon is a great idea. Maybe Dixon can learn a few tricks from Vick and feel some pressure to improve. Vick is a viable number-two option at this point, but I can’t see him starting 16 games and doing well. His production has decreased drastically over the past two years, and he is going to turn 33 over the summer. Kelly won’t invest too much of his time in Vick if he’s smart.
As for Edwards and Foles, they are third-string quarterbacks at best. Taken 88th overall last year, Foles won one of the six games he started. As for Edwards, he never played a full season, and the only year that he started more than 10 games, the Bills came in fourth place in the AFC East. He also has a 26-30 career touchdown-interception ratio. If that’s not enough, the Oakland Raiders cut him after the preseason… and they let JaMarcus Russell start 25 games before finally getting rid of him. To put it bluntly, neither of these quarterbacks looks like a winner to me.
Coach Kelly has assembled a good team of mediocre quarterbacks, but can he craft one to be playoff quality? Foles and Edwards can serve as okay backups, winning a few games here and there, but I can’t see either having an 11-5 season. However, with Vick and Dixon learning from each other and competing with each other in practice, both can become viable threats. Dixon is younger and less injury prone, though, so I would start developing him if I were Kelly.
Ondo is a member of the class of 2015.