On Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles signed quarterback Dennis Dixon to a two-year deal, reuniting him with his former coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly. At Oregon, Dixon ran Kelly’s prolific spread option to perfection, throwing for over 5100 yards and rushing for over 1200 during his four year career there.
Dennis Dixon spent last season on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, where he proved to be a valuable asset in replicating opposing offenses for the Ravens’ defense to practice against. He will now join Michael Vick and Nick Foles, becoming the third quarterback on the Eagles’ roster.
While it usually doesn’t seem like a big deal to lose a practice squad player to free agency, Dennis Dixon’s departure is a significant one for the Ravens. Dixon earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens and actually made a significant contribution to the team.
Dixon ran the scout offense during practice when the Ravens were preparing to face a read option team such as the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. Imitating Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick is no easy task, but the Ravens benefited greatly from Dennis Dixon’s experience in the read option.
Luckily for the Ravens, none of their 2013 opponents run the option regularly and they will not likely see it unless they make playoffs. Additionally, the Ravens still have quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who occasionally ran the read option at Virginia Tech, as the number two quarterback on their roster. While he doesn’t have the experience that Dixon has, Taylor’s unique skill set still makes him a helpful resource.
Although it’s a trend on the rise, mobility at the quarterback position is still a relative rarity in the NFL. Couple those skills with the knowledge of a lesser-known offense in the read option and a player can easily become an important tool for any team.
Despite the fact that we never saw Dennis Dixon on the Ravens’ game day roster, his exit is one that will impact the team negatively next season.