The Michael Vick vs. (enter backup quarterback here) saga has begun a new chapter in Philadelphia. It might feel premature if you’re a believer in Vick’s ability to lead this team back to the playoffs, or it might be just the perfect time if you’ve been waiting for Vick to finally be demoted to clipboard/cheerleader duties.
This is the type of situation the media loves. It’s the type of story with multiple legs that easily moves throughout the six or seven (or four) days in-between games. The early part of the week consists of weighing the pros and cons of each quarterback. As the week progresses, some press conference clips are sprinkled in to help give analysts a basis to make an argument for either the starter or the backup. By the time Friday rolls around, the only thing left to do is tie up what to keep an eye on during the game on Sunday. If the game is on Monday rejoice! You get entire cycle of the week condensed into a 90 minute version that’s entitled Monday Night Countdown.
As the quarterback controversy storyline continues, it’s a simple narrative to follow. Just rinse and repeat.
For the fourth time in the last five years the Eagles organization has penned a script that involves two quarterbacks fighting for the lead role. What is the proposed name of the script you might ask?
The Curse of Michael Vick.
Vick is the equivalent of the machines that used to contain the little football helmets by the checkout lines inside a grocery store.
Try to stay with me here.
When I was growing up I would beg my mom for a couple quarters so I could take home a new helmet. If she obliged, I’d drop two into the slots and hope that I got someone besides the Cleveland Browns.
The point of this story is that much like those machines, you never know what you’re going to get out of Michael Vick. In 2010 he showed MVP like flashes of brilliance that justified Andy Reid’s decision to keep Kevin Kolb on the bench and hand Vick the keys to the car.
Vick crashed the car in Week 15 of that season when he was outplayed by then QB (now WR) Joe Webb.
(I know QBs do not directly play against each other, but for the sake of the argument let’s go with this.)
In 2011 the backup quarterback role was played by veteran Vince Young, it was a smart move by the front office. Without a young backup on the roster, the idea of the future guy taking over the starting role didn’t exist. Young had a big divisional win on the road in a start against the Giants while Vick was out with one of 13582095832 injuries that have kept him from starting a game in his career, but Young’s luck ran out as he was promptly ran out of Lincoln Financial Field by the Patriots and picked off four times by the Seahawks in the two games after the backup vs. Vick storyline was briefly brought up.
Vick did just enough during the last month of the 2011 season to give Reid the thought that he had the right man for the job, but Nick Foles was curiously drafted (at the time) in the third round of the 2012 draft. Once again Vick’s role on the team was questioned.
Notice a pattern here?
Nick vs. Vick became a real debate last year. That was bound to happen to a team with a 4-12 record. The only other talking point that was worthy of time was the end of Andy Reid’s tenure with the organization.
Foles was either mediocre or flat out awful in the majority of his six starts last year, but did flash some impressive moments that weren’t an accident.
When Chip Kelly took over the reigns as the head coach this offseason, Foles lack of mobility was a constant theme that was discussed, but all of those arguments were missing the point. Sure Kelly’s offense appears to be extremely dangerous when the quarterback has the ability to run because it truly creates an 11-on-11 situation that tips the scales in favor of the offense, but the key to running the offense is to make quick decisions and get rid of the football.
In the first two games of this season Vick appeared to be a new man. He thrived against the Redskins and the Chargers. As the weeks progressed and the season moved past the quarter pole, those performances now have a warped appearance. The Redskins defense was torched repeatedly throughout the first month of the season and the Chargers currently have the worst defense in football.
Vick’s play was awesome in those first two weeks, but beginning with a dud in Week 3 against a legit Chiefs defense, he’s shown disturbing traits of a quarterback who holds onto the ball too long and isn’t sure about where his next progression should be after the first option isn’t open.
Vick still has the ability to gain chunks of yardage with his legs if he doesn’t like what he sees down the field, but the combination of not getting the ball out fast enough when the first option is covered on say a bubble screen and not knowing where to look next when said receiver is blanked by a defender, is a dangerous proposition.
In Foles’ first start this year, he showed signs of confidence that validated all of the praise Kelly gave to the second year quarterback during the preseason. Remember, this was an open quarterback competition for much of the off and preseason. Foles played well, but Vick truly shined in August. He earned the job.
After the Eagles’ third victory of the season, Foles once again has laid out the immediate storyline for Philadelphia’s professional football team. This is the first time Chip Kelly has starred in a drama that has the potential to suck the energy out of a team quicker than Terrell Owens. Kelly might also be the only man who has a creative enough mind to use both Foles and Vick in a hybrid quarterback role. The proposition seems outrageous as the concept of having two quarterbacks really means that you really have none, but Kelly is the type of person that can make the saying an old adage.
Foles’ performance against the Bucs was really a flashback in disguise, a flashback to Kevin Kolb’s performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6 of the 2010 season. Kolb came into that game hot off a victory against the 49ers on the road and destroyed the Falcons with 326 yards and three touchdowns. The momentum of Kolb overtaking Vick as the starting quarterback began to mount, even though Vick stole the job from Kolb.
The week after Kolb’s domination of the Falcons ended up being Kolb’s last meaningful start of the 2010 season. Thanks to three missed field goals by David Akers and middling play from Kolb against the Titans, Reid’s decision to bring back Vick as the starting quarterback was not questioned.
If Foles leads the Eagles to a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the stage will be set for a true quarterback controversy, if Foles has the same performance that Kolb had after his thrashing of the Falcons, Vick will return as the unquestioned starter just like he did in 2010.
Whatever happens just remember, the curse has already struck and there is no known remedy.
Follow me on Twitter @Scottdargis.