PHILADELPHIA -- It will be as if the New York Giants blinked and missed the Eagles’ entire two-week quarterback drama.
The Giants prepared to face quarterback Michael Vick three weeks ago and they are preparing to face Vick again this week. The only question is whether they will get Vick at full speed or some percentage of that.
Vick doesn’t have the answer. He said after Wednesday’s practice that he hasn’t yet run full speed on the hamstring he pulled Oct. 6 at MetLife Stadium. It is more than a minor factor going into this NFC East rematch, since Vick’s legs were the key to the Eagles’ offensive success last time -- at least until Nick Foles replaced him.
The Giants held LeSean McCoy to 46 yards on 20 carries in that first meeting.
“I also know Mike ran for 79 yards in a quarter-and-a-half,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “You can devote what you want to do to take one guy away. If that be the case, other guys have to step up. DeSean [Jackson] had a good performance. We need to execute a little better in the run game, obviously, but if they’re going to gang up on one aspect, we need to be able to lean on another aspect.”
Looking back at that game, it was the Eagles’ passing game that faltered first. Vick did not complete a pass in the first quarter. He overthrew Jackson on a deep ball on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, on third-and-long, Jackson dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands.
Vick was under pressure on another third down in the first quarter. He stepped up in the pocket and saw a huge open space in front of him. He took off and picked up 34 yards. He picked up 11 yards on a designed run, but needed 12 for a first down. The Eagles wound up kicking a field goal there.
Vick missed Zach Ertz on a deep throw, then had a hot throw to McCoy batted back in his face by an unblocked Jason Pierre-Paul. He hit Ertz on a nice corner route to get to the New York 7, then overthrew Jason Avant in the end zone to squander the red zone opportunity.
On Vick’s only touchdown drive of that game, he demonstrated how dangerous he can be in two ways. First, he hit Jackson deep for 56 yards, then he ran for 14 to the Giants’ 1-yard line on a designed sweep to the right. McCoy carried it in from there.
Vick hurt his hamstring on another run, this one a scramble after pressure came from his right. That set up another field goal. Vick left the game with a 16-7 lead, mediocre passing numbers and, as Kelly pointed out, a game-changing 79 rushing yards.
Can Vick be as effective running the ball on Sunday? He said he wouldn’t change his style. He also said he felt he was at about “80 percent” this week.
“We’ll see,” McCoy said. “You never know when Mike’s in. If he’s healthy or he’s not healthy, his presence on the field, you have to account for him as a defense. We’ll see how they play.”
The Giants certainly will try to force the issue. If they test Vick and he can’t get the acceleration he had three weeks earlier, they can focus on McCoy and let Vick try to beat them with his arm. That’s tougher for him to do if he doesn’t have his legs.