Friday, July 11, 2014
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Vick, Foles, and a QB controversy?

Eagles 36, Giants 21

Vick, Foles, and a QB controversy?

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and teammate DeSean Jackson talk while warming up. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and teammate DeSean Jackson talk while warming up. (Kathy Willens/AP)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Eagles are not about to have a quarterback controversy. A controversy implies deeply held feelings and big stakes, none of which are present here. Instead, it will be a quarterback conversation.

Michael Vick? Nick Foles? You can discuss this among yourselves, but Chip Kelly has already decided - and properly so - that the job will be Vick's again on Sunday at Tampa Bay if his sore hamstring allows it. 

The two players do the job differently, and have different strengths, and you can make an argument for either if you are so inclined. But the fact is that it is currently Vick's job and there is no compelling reason to make a change - and that is all said while acknowledging that Foles played well in the Eagles' 36-21 win over the poor, poor, pitiful New York Giants. 

Could that opinion change? Sure. If Vick were to miss a few weeks and if Foles were to carry the team to a succession of wins, sure, it could change - because it isn't as if the Eagles are married to either guy after this season. But that isn't where we are. The only question in the here-and-now is how long Vick will be out - and, for what it's worth, he is thinking about playing in Tampa. 

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"I'm hoping so," Vick said. "I'll work extremely hard. I've had this type of injury before. You've just got to do certain things to get it back." 

Still, Vick acknowledged that he missed a game that other time he had a hamstring problem. A quick search indicates several minor-ish hamstring issues for him during his time in Atlanta. It all seems pretty normal, and the presumption is that this one will be pretty normal, the MRI willing. 

"I'll find out when they all get here on Tuesday," Kelly said. "If they tell me he's practicing, then he practices." 

Near the end of the first half against the Giants, on a scramble out of bounds, Vick grabbed at his left hamstring. He stayed in the game, got worked on by the doctors during the next Giants possession, and returned to the field when the Eagles got the ball back. He lasted one play, taking a punishing hit from the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul. 

"I felt a 'pop' and that was it," Vick said, of the initial play. And after the Pierre-Paul hit, he said, "I realized I couldn't ... I think the coaches realized I couldn't. I was going to go but there was no need. The coaches understood. Why have me in the game when I'm not 100 percent when you have a healthy quarterback on the sideline?" 

Foles entered the game and ran a nice 2-minute drive that ended with a field goal. In the second half, he threw accurately and well, taking the gifts provided by the defense's most aggressive play of the season and turning them into a blowout victory. With that, we have our little quarterback conversation. 

You never got the sense that Vick won the job by a mile this summer, even if he did win it by all available measures. You did have the sense that Foles was still just mistake-prone enough to offset any other advantages he might have. But he did not make the big mistake yesterday, in a game that saw the Eagles leading at halftime and then falling behind in the third quarter. There was some pressure in the game and he dealt with it well. 

The quarterback conversation will be the same as it was this summer, when Vick and Foles were battling for the job. Vick is the more dynamic of the two players, especially with his legs. In the first half yesterday, he ran seven times for 79 yards and kept the Giants' defense pretty significantly off-balance. Foles is the more anticipatory of the two, more willing to throw the ball before the receiver is open. He did it once down the sideline to DeSean Jackson, another time in the end zone to Brent Celek, and probably others. 

For the game, Vick was only 6-for-14 for 105 yards - but you cannot underestimate the importance of his running. Foles was much more productive through the air - 16-for-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. When the offense is working well for Vick, you look at him. When the offense is working well for Foles, you look at the ensemble. 

If this were still the summer, and there had been a more extended competition between the two, Foles might have won it - because there is something to be valued in the consistency with which he runs the offense. But that is not how it played out. The competition was shorter in July and August and you got the sense that Vick won it both on the field and in the locker room. For this coach, in his first season, all of that (including the locker room) is part of the calculus. 

There is no need to mess with that, either - not yet, anyway. You absolutely can lose your job in the NFL because of an injury and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. But we aren't there yet. 

At one point, Kelly said, "We're always going to compete and play and make sure the best guys are on the field." So the door is not completely closed. Yesterday, though, Foles did not kick the door in, not nearly. We will leave you with the final question Kelly was asked last night, and his answer: 

Q: Would you say that after Nick's performance today that the job is more up for grabs? 

A: No. 


 

Email: hofmanr@phillynews.com 

On Twitter: @theidlerich 

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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