It was always Michael Vick’s job to lose and he refused to do it. That doesn’t mean Vick has the job forever. He could still lose it because of injury or ineptitude, but that would happen sometime during the season, not before. In just two preseason games – a total of less than three quarters – Vick has answered the biggest question the Eagles had coming into training camp under new coach Chip Kelly: Who’s the quarterback?
Vick and second-year man Nick Foles ostensibly came into camp as equals fighting for the starting job, but everyone knew even then that Vick was 1a and Foles was 1b. Now it’s a clear-cut 1 and 2 and, for Kelly, the best part isn’t that Foles lost the job as much as Vick won it.
Both quarterbacks’ statistics for the first two preseason games are impressive, although we must throw in the caveat that these are just preseason games. Opposing defenses don’t game plan for specific formations and plays and a new offense like Kelly’s should be especially effective when the other guys don’t break it down and prepare for it. That can’t be understated. Defensive coaches are smart, too, and they’ll find ways to not only defend Kelly’s offense, but also attack it. If there’s a weakness they’ll find it and exploit it and we won’t know that until the regular season starts.
At the same time, it’s better to look good in the preseason than bad and both quarterbacks have looked good. But Vick has looked better and whereas both QBs can be efficient, only one of them can be electric. Kelly’s offense works much, much better if there’s at least a threat that the quarterback can run the ball and make big plays with his feet as well as his arm. That, of course, is Michael Vick.
And even though it’s just the preseason you can’t ignore the stat sheet, which definitely favors Vick. He’s completed 86 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of 113.2. Foles has completed 78 percent of his passes, which ain’t bad, but his QB rating is just 65.4. Plus Vick’s only turnover was on an up-for-grabs interception at the end of the first half, whereas Foles has turned the ball over twice so far, once on a fumble and once on a terrible interception on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, which was picked off in the end zone and ruined what was otherwise a terrific drive. Foles later said he was merely trying to throw the ball away, but that’s still no excuse for the kind of play that could lose a real game.
Here’s another key statistic that favors Vick: He’s averaging 13.2 yards per passing attempt whereas Foles is averaging about half of that, 6.8 yards per attempt. That’s important, because even though Kelly – and all coaches – like long, methodical, clock-eating drives, it’s also a fact that the more plays you run, the better the chance that somebody will mess up and ruin a promising drive, like Foles did with his interception in the end zone and, later in the first half, like Chris Polk did when he fumbled the ball away after the Eagles had marched into Carolina territory.
You just don’t see many 20-play, 80-yard drives in the NFL anymore. As mentioned earlier, the more plays an offense runs the more likely it’ll make a mistake. Plus, the guys on the other side of the ball are pretty good athletes, too, and the more plays you run, the more opportunities they have to make a big play.
If you’ll pardon the baseball analogy, it’s great to piece together runs by bunting and stealing and stringing together singles, but three-run homers are nice, too.
Vick has always had a slight edge because of his ability to run and his ability to make big plays down the field – hit three-run homers, if you will — as well as his game-day experience in the NFL. But so far he’s also been very efficient and avoided the costly mistakes that hurt him and his team so much in the past.
So, Michael Vick might not be the Eagles’ starting quarterback at the end of the 2013 season, but he’ll be the starter for the beginning of it. And who would have thought that was possible at the end of 2012?
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.