ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A somewhat salty John Fox made more than one reference Tuesday to the fact the Philadelphia Eagles haven’t played since a Thursday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week and the Denver Broncos' win over the Oakland Raiders Monday was only hours into the rear-view mirror.
And while Chip Kelly’s offense will present a game-planning challenge in that compressed time frame, Fox has more than a little experience against Eagles quarterback Michael Vick through the years. Vick was the starter in Atlanta during much of Fox’s nine-year tenure as Carolina Panthers coach. Vick started nine games against the Panthers in that time, going 6-3 with six touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Vick also rushed for three touchdowns in those games.
Fox sees Kelly’s up-tempo read-option attack as a quality fit for the 33-year-old Vick.
“In Atlanta he was kind of a run, play-action quarterback as well," Fox said. “The advent of the read-option in college football, and now coming into our league, it fits him perfect. ... He’s explosive, he’s got to have as many explosive runs as any quarterback in the league ... he’s operating that offense well."
Well enough that, despite being 1-2, the Eagles haven’t exactly been pushed off the field quickly by opposing defenses very often this season.
In 38 possessions over the first three games, the Eagles have had just one three-and-out before a punt (in the second quarter of their loss to the Chargers).
Sunday’s game will also mark the second consecutive week the Broncos will face the league’s rushing leader. Oakland led the league in rushing after two games; the Raiders finished with 49 yards on 17 carries Monday night against the Broncos' defense (2.9 yards per carry). The Eagles lead the league in rushing after three games at 209 yards per game. The Eagles are also fifth in the league in rushing attempts at 31.7 per game.
One of the most significant issues for the Broncos will come when the Eagles open up the formation and the Broncos have to defend the run game with smaller personnel from their nickel and dime packages.
“[The Eagles] are fast-break and they’ve got explosive players doing it,’’ Fox said.
Fox said Tuesday that he had not gone through the win over the Raiders, but was devoting his time to preparing for the Broncos’ first look at Kelly's offense. He didn’t need a review to reaffirm his confidence in Ryan Clady’s replacement at left tackle, Chris Clark. The Broncos made little concession in their play calling for Clark’s presence in the game. The Broncos opened the game in their base three-wide receiver set and scored on a 10-play drive with all 10 plays run with three wide receivers on the field. “We have great confidence in Chris,’’ Fox said. “ … As I mentioned last week his teammates and coaching staff have a lot of confidence in him.’’ Fox said Clark did surrender the sack from the Raiders' Jason Hunter that resulted in a Peyton Manning fumble. Following the game Manning said: "I thought Chris did a good job from a communication standpoint ... he was on top of it. No miscommunications or having to call a timeout because he didn't know what to do. He was very sharp that way.''
The Broncos' players had Tuesday off and when they reconvene Wednesday, the coaches will move on to the Eagles quickly. Fox said the players would be shown a “short little correction reel’’ of the mistakes from the win over the Raiders, but that the majority of the work would be focused on the Eagles.
Fox on the team’s performance in a 3-0 start; “Good start, that’s all it is.’’
Fox characterized the left thigh injury to linebacker Paris Lenon and the right ankle injury to safety Duke Ihenacho as “nothing serious.’’ Ihenacho originally suffered his injury against the Giants and was limited some in practice last week. He played 25 snaps on defense against Raiders before the Broncos pulled him from the game. Lenon played one snap on defense on the last play of the first quarter when the Raiders lined up with six offensive linemen in the formation. Lenon also played 10 plays on special teams before his injury.