Friday, June 7, 2013
Eagles minicamp: Not much to fear for Vick
By Dan Graziano
PHILADELPHIA -- I don't blame Michael Vick for his frustration. This is no way to prepare for a season, all of this shuttling in and out from series to series, switching off the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback reps with Nick Foles. Vick said after practice Thursday that it was tough and that he'd prefer to have coach Chip Kelly name a starter soon. Foles played the good soldier, saying it was fine and that, "I think each quarterback respects each other guy on this team that we can be men about it." But you watch the constant in-and-out and you can tell, it's no way to prepare for a season.
Michael Vick, as well as all the other Eagles QBs, are adjusting to coach Chip Kelly's new offense.
Thing is, though, that's not what they were doing this week. This was June minicamp, not August training camp. The point of this week's practices and the organized team activities that preceded them was less about preparing for a season than it was about learning and practicing new concepts while putting things on tape for the new coaching staff to evaluate over the coming months. So while, as I said, I can understand Vick's impatience and frustration, I think this down time between minicamp and training camp should help him cool down a bit and realize he doesn't have much to fear.
Could he still lose the starting quarterback job to Foles? Of course. But after spending three days around the team these past couple of weeks, I maintain my belief that this summer would have to be a colossal failure by Vick in order for anyone else to get the job. There's just no one else in that red-shirted quintet who offers what Vick offers in terms of experience and 2013 upside. Foles remains, for me at least, remarkably uninspiring. Matt Barkley looks like a rookie who's well behind the rest of the pack. Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne look like backups, which is what they are.
Was it a frustrating day on the field for Vick? Sure. He threw a pass right into one of those black "flyswatter" things those guys wear on their backs to simulate the pass rush in 7-on-7 drills. His efforts in team drills stalled while Foles completed a 60-yard touchdown bomb to DeSean Jackson. I could see why Vick was frustrated Thursday, sure. But there's a long way to go in this yet, and I think he's going to have to really show he can't handle the type of offense Kelly wants to run if Kelly's going to give control of that offense to someone else in Week 1.
Other stuff I noticed this week at Eagles minicamp:
There was a play in team drills on which Vick took off running to the left and picked up about 15 yards after the play broke down. "Same old Vick," is what everyone was thinking, but it was the kind of play that made you also think, "Yeah, if I could run like that, I'd want to run all the time, too." On the very next play, Vick rolled left, saw the rush coming and immediately spiked the ball into the ground. So that's progress, I guess.
You can't judge the secondary in these non-contact drills because the safeties aren't allowed to hit and the cornerbacks aren't allowed to play press coverage. But Brandon Boykin made a nifty play to break up and nearly pick off a Foles pass intended for Jason Avant, and what I liked about it was that Boykin seemed to spot the ball in the air before the receiver did -- a helpful trait for a nickel corner, or any corner for that matter.
A cornerback named Eddie Whitley also had a nice breakup of a play on which he was able to hide behind wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah and then jump out and swat the ball away. Hiding behind Momah, who's 6-foot-7, 234 pounds, is no tough trick. He looks like a mountain and, I'm sorry to say, kind of moves like one.
More than a few times Thursday, I caught the funny sight of Momah talking one-on-one with 5-8, 170-pound receiver Damaris Johnson, who doesn't even look as though he and Momah should be playing the same sport, let alone position. But I think there's a chance Johnson can be a big part of this offense this year. If Kelly wants to rely on quick-developing, short-range plays, Johnson is the kind of player who can quickly find space in which to work and turn a play into something special once the ball is in his hands.
The Foles-to-Jackson completion was one of maybe eight passes I saw Thursday that was thrown more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Lots of dump-offs, and lots of handoffs, with Bryce Brown very much involved in the action as well as LeSean McCoy.
At one point, there was a special teams drill in which the punt coverage units were practicing keeping the ball out of the end zone. Only the coaches were using volleyballs instead of footballs. I guess they bounce higher and truer, and if the football's going to land on its tip and skitter into the end zone, there's nothing the coverage team can do about that anyway.