Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Eagles' O-line: We're not reason for QB switch

Eagles offensive linemen do not think their play had anything to do with Andy Reid's decision to start Michael Vick.

Eagles' O-line: We're not reason for QB switch

Michael Vick will be making his second start for the Eagles on Sunday against the Jaguars. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick will be making his second start for the Eagles on Sunday against the Jaguars. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

In my Man Up post yesterday, I explained that I do not believe the Eagles' offensive line is the reason Andy Reid decided to switch starting quarterbacks.

It just doesn't add up to me because of the magnitude of the decision. Looking ahead, if Michael Vick plays well the rest of the season, the possibility is there that the Eagles would re-sign him and make him the starter for the next several years.

And at some point, Kevin Kolb is going to have to play under less than ideal circumstances, which could mean a struggling offensive line, or maybe no No. 1 receiver. Consider that Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback he's most compared to, was sacked 50 times last season and 84 times in the past two seasons. Every quarterback goes through things like that.

Today, at NovaCare, I talked to a couple offensive linemen to see what they thought about the theory that Reid switched quarterbacks because of the problems in pass protection.

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"I don't think that's the reason at all," right tackle Winston Justice said. "I'm behind their choice 100 percent - whether they go with Vick or they go with Kolb. I don't think that's the reason why. You shouldn't pick a quarterback because he can make people miss. He's not here to make people miss. He's here to throw touchdowns, so I don't think that was the reason."

Justice was calm when he answered and didn't seem the least bit bothered.

Mike McGlynn, though, seemed to take a little offense.

"I don't understand that either," McGlynn said. "I don't know how we're taking the heat for the quarterback switch either. Mike [Vick] went in there and did a lot of good things. To say OK, we're going to switch the quarterback because of the offensive line, I don't understand that."

A reporter told McGlynn that the perception was Vick could scramble and get away from pressure better than Kolb.

"I disagree. I don't think it has anything to do with us," McGlynn said. "Like I said, we gave up some sacks last week, but there's a lot of variables. One was on a screen, there's a lot of variables. And people just look at OK, they gave up six sacks, they're terrible. No, you watch the film. Watch the film and then you guys can critique us then."

So I did just that because, well, I agree with McGlynn.

Let's take a look at the six sacks that are being discussed:

Sack 1: Vick lined up under center, and the Eagles ran play-action. He then pump-faked - not once, but twice - before taking a hit on the blind side and fumbling. The Lions only rushed four on the play, and the Eagles kept Brent Celek in to block. Note that Vick was not sacked the first 28 times he dropped back.

Sack 2: On 3rd-and-13, the Lions rushed five. Todd Herremans was originally double-teaming a defensive tackle with McGlynn, but then did a great job to pick up the delayed blitzer. Both the tackles blocked their defensive ends upfield. Again, Vick had time to look at his initial read, but didn't get rid of the ball, tucked it to run and was sacked.

Sack 3: The Lions rushed five once again. Vick was in shotgun, pump-faked and then was sacked. Nick Cole was clearly beat by Ndamukong Suh, but again, Vick had time to get rid of the ball. The Eagles had two tight ends picking up the blitzer on this play.

Sack 4: This was a fumbled snap. That's on Vick and McGlynn, but not a protection issue.

Sack 5: This was a screen play where the timing was off from the get-go. It was not a classic drop-back and look for a receiver play, though. The offensive line let their defenders get through, as they're supposed to do, but Mike Bell had not yet turned around to receive the pass from Vick. Poor execution.

Sack 6: The Lions rushed six and the Eagles went with an empty backfield, meaning they only had five guys to block. Vick rolled to his left, and under normal circumstances, would have thrown the ball away. But since it was late in the fourth quarter, he wanted to stay in bounds and took a big hit. This was the play where he spiked the ball afterwards and drew a penalty.

As you can see, Sunday was not a case of Vick dropping back and getting sacked constantly. There were different circumstances to each of the six sacks.

Now, as I write often, there is more to pass pressure than just sacks. Vick was under pressure Sunday, and while I outlined earlier in the week how well he played, there were certainly times when he could have got rid of the ball quicker. Then again, taking a sack is probably better than throwing an interception.

It goes back to what I said in the beginning of the post. Reid's decision could have an impact on this franchise for years to come, depending on how this season plays out.

I don't believe everything that comes out of his mouth, but I believe Reid when he says this decision had little to do with the offensive line.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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