Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Vick still starting, Eagles still a mess
By Dan Graziano
A news release arrived via text from the Philadelphia Eagles at 8:43 a.m. Wednesday and said this:
Eagles head coach Andy Reid confirms that Michael Vick is the team's starting QB. Eagles will resume practice on Thursday when Reid and players will be available.
I have yet to receive any official news releases from the other three teams in the NFC East confirming that the quarterback who has started every one of their games so far this year will also start this week's, but that's mainly because other teams don't feel the need to tell everyone every week that they're not changing quarterbacks. The Eagles do, because the Eagles, right now, are a complete mess.
The level of tension and negativity piling up on the shoulders of Reid, Vick and everybody else connected to the Eagles right now is staggering and overwhelming, and I think it's one of the biggest things holding the team back. It's now clear that team owner Jeffrey Lurie made a huge mistake in the offseason when he said that another 8-8 record wouldn't be acceptable, effectively giving Reid and ultimatum to post a winning record or lose his job. That put a template of intense pressure in place for 2012, and the Eagles have not handled it well.
Vick entered this season with more pressure on him than any other player in the league, given the team's expectations and his importance to their success, and he has looked like a guy who's feeling it. He didn't turn the ball over in Sunday's lackluster loss to the Falcons, but he turned it over 13 times in his first six games, and the rumblings around the team are of frustration with his continued inability to read blitzes, call the correct audibles and adjust to game conditions. He has kept himself from getting hurt in spite of the pressure he faces on seemingly every play, but according to ESPN Stats & Information he has completed only 28 percent of his passes thrown from outside the pocket -- the lowest such percentage in the NFL this year.
A lot of what's going on with the Eagles is not Vick's fault, of course. The offensive line is missing three starters right now, and its struggles have negatively impacted the pass protection as well as the run game. The defense played its worst game of the year Sunday in the first game since Reid fired his defensive coordinator. The pass rush, thought to be that defense's linchpin, has vanished. The Eagles give the impression of a team that is collapsing in on itself, and Reid gives the impression of a coach who's staring at the end of his time with the team.
Keeping Vick as the starter is the right move. There's no reason to believe a switch, either to journeyman Trent Edwards or third-round rookie Nick Foles, would give them a better chance to win than Vick does, and Vick offers considerably more upside than either of those choices do if he begins to consistently play to his ability. He has led the team from behind to take the lead in the fourth quarter in four different games this year, and he has shown that he can win games for them. But this is a team looking for some answers, any answer, even one that doesn't necessarily make sense. That's why Vick remains on the hot seat in advance of Monday night's game in New Orleans, and why the Eagles as a whole remain a great, big, pressurized mess.