Benching Michael Vick wouldn't help
October, 29, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Michael PerezMichael Vick and the Eagles are struggling to keep the season from slipping away.
PHILADELPHIA -- I could understand, if you took it out of context, why you might jump to all of the conclusions to which people seem to be jumping about what Michael Vick said Sunday. Fortunately, having been in the room for both Andy Reid's news conference and Vick's, I have the context.
During Reid's news conference following Sunday's loss to the Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach was asked, among many other things, whether he was thinking about making a change at quarterback. Reid, who prides himself on not answering questions directly in his postgame news conference, mumbled a standard line about "I'll look at everything" and went on to take (and not answer) the next question.
So a little while later, during Vick's news conference, someone asked him what he thought about Reid answering (or not answering) that question the same way he had two weeks ago. And that's when Vick said what he said about "obviously he's thinking about making a change" and "if that's the decision Coach wants to make, then I support it."
That's what really happened, and while I admit to have been surprised by the depth of Vick's honesty in addressing the question, I reject the interpretation that he was somehow -- whether gallantly or pathetically -- offering himself up as sacrifice.
I also dispute the idea that he was somehow revealing some secret bit of information about Reid's thought process. There's very little chance that, sometime in the 30 or so minutes between the end of the game and the start of Vick's news conference, Reid pulled him aside and said, "Mike, I'm thinking of making a change at quarterback, and I'll keep you posted." It's possible that Reid said something to Vick during the bye week about his job status being in question, or that Vick inferred that from the obviously desperate state of Reid's own job and the fact that he fired his defensive coordinator two weeks ago. And of course it's possible that Vick will be benched and replaced by rookie Nick Foles for next Monday's game in New Orleans. Anything is possible at this point, because Reid is on the ropes and he clearly doesn't want to go down without a fight.
But how could you really watch that game Sunday and think Vick was the Eagles' problem? He barely had the ball in the first half, so inept was the Eagles' defense at getting itself off the field on third down against Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense. For just the second time this season, Vick did not turn the ball over. He has managed to play every snap of every game this year without getting himself hurt, which was one of the biggest concerns about him coming into the season. He has not played great, and he has been the biggest problem in several of the Eagles' losses (and a few of the wins), but Sunday was on the defense, and clearly on a head coach whose big bye-week move couldn't have fallen flatter.
There's a lot going around about this today, obviously. Football Outsiders looks at the issue of whether benching Vick for completely untested rookie Foles would help, and concludes that it would not, since the Eagles obviously have more and bigger problems at this point. And SportsNation is holding a discussion and a poll about whether the Eagles should bench Vick. You can go and join in over there. I checked in and voted "no," because I don't think it would make anything better. I think Foles would struggle just as badly, if not worse, behind an Eagles offensive line that's playing without three starters. I think the defense is falling all over itself because it doesn't know who's supposed to be in charge, who's supposed to be playing and what they're supposed to be running. I think the entire Reid program in Philadelphia is collapsing in on itself, and that Reid can change coordinators or quarterbacks or his socks or the pregame warmup music and none of it would make a difference. The only thing benching Vick would do at this point is underline, in the locker room and for the outside world, just how desperate a man Andy Reid is. I don't see how it would help the Eagles win more games.
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