Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has taken a fast-paced Oregon offense to the NFL, but his team has largely underachieved the last two years. At the beginning of the 2015 season, three of their quarterbacks, including starter Sam Bradford, ranked in the bottom five in quarterback rating (QBR) since 2010. The team’s results have been evident of this. With their quarterback situation in shambles, why not take a shot on Jason Vander Laan?
Ferris State runs an offense similar to that of Kelly’s. They are both predicated on getting elite athletes in space. However, the Eagles have not had a true running quarterback since Mike Vick in the 2013 season when they totalled the second most points in the NFC.
Without the threat of the quarterback run, the Eagles’ read option game, an essential part of the offense, is almost non-existent. Rushing is what Vander Laan does best. In four years, Vander Laan has totalled 5,953 rushing yards surpassing the NCAA record for quarterback rushing yards by over 800.
The Eagles picked up former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow this past off season. Though he was cut, it shows that Kelly is interested in a quarterback like Vander Laan. Tebow was a run first quarterback and won two national championships at Florida. However, he did not have the throwing skill to make it in the NFL. I don’t think Vander Laan will have that problem. In 2014, he led the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 176.1. Additionally he is the only player in NCAA history to throw and run for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.
Vander Laan resembles Carolina Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton more than Tim Tebow. The NFL has turned away from running quarterbacks due to injury concerns but Newton has a sturdy body that allows him to take those hard hits. Vander Laan is almost identical in size at 6’4”, 245 pounds and can throw the deep ball just the same. With Kelly’s interesting offseason moves not paying dividends, he could very well be fired at the end of the year which would make all this talk meaningless. However, Cam Newton’s success at the NFL level gives hope that other teams could take a chance on Vander Laan. The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets could be other potential landing spots.
The 49ers have had all they can take of Colin Kaepernick’s inconsistent play and there are reports saying he could possibly be traded. For many years, this team was built on tough defense and a strong running game. When Colin Kaepernick first took the reigns after current Kansas City Chief Alex Smith went down in the 2012 season, he electrified the NFL with his ability make plays outside the pocket and drive the ball down field. However, he has since fallen to the bottom half of the league in QBR.
The Jets have had a disaster under center since Mark Sanchez. Gang green has a similar makeup to the 49ers with a run first offense and stout defense. Vander Laan could strive in that offense picking up tough yards between the tackles as a nice complement to an elite rushing attack.
Vander Laan has had an incredible career at Ferris State and hopefully he will get a shot at the next level. He has the prototypical size and intangibles such as leadership and coachability. My only concern is that the league will view him as potentially another Tim Tebow and stray away. If someone gives him a chance, they will not be disappointed.