Consider the Eagles quarterbacks a dual threat
MICHAEL VICK runs faster. Nick Foles stands taller, maybe throws a little more accurately. Those attributes have been pounded upon repeatedly in this week of uncertainty, as Vick attempts to rehabilitate an injured hamstring and Foles attempts to revive his chances to become the Eagles' starting quarterback.
Lost in the discussion, though, is something Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano observed as he watched video of the Eagles' first five games.
"You can see they are getting more and more of what coach wants," Schiano said yesterday down in Tampa. "So much of how fast you can go is what do you do with the football after the play. Do you hand it to the official right away? All those things that give the defense a second or a click more to get adjusted. Because when you see the big plays, it's not like some of those runs that are big gashes are extravagant schemes. They block people, they read one guy. But guys aren't quite in their stance. They're in the vicinity, but they're not quite ready to go."
Schiano said that the Bucs have practiced against that pace this week and in the preseason, but that realistically, "we're like at 60 percent" of what they expect to see on Sunday. "We're going to need to get our feet under us fast in that first quarter," said the former Rutgers coach.
What should help the Bucs in that regard is if Vick can't go, which appears likely, and Foles takes his place.
I said, should. Theoretically, the backup quarterback, who is slower, with only a half of football under his belt, should need to go slower as he adjusts to real action.
Except that didn't happen last Sunday. After taking over for Vick late in the first half, Foles completed 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, moving quickly and efficiently. "We actually ran the offense a little faster when he first got in there," Jason Avant said.
Foles immediately led the Eagles on a late second-quarter drive that garnered three points, then tore the Giants secondary apart with crisp passes and a remarkably crisp pace, especially given his inactivity.
"Under coach [Andy] Reid, the first quarterback took all the reps," Avant said. "That's not the case here. The backup gets reps with the No. 1s all the time. And in preseason they rotated so much, it's really not like you're losing anything."
"I feel comfortable," Foles said. "In practice, you rep it and play at that tempo. I worked on it all offseason and through the camps, so you get used to it, so when you get in there, you fit right in. You know the tempo you have to play and you go do it. And you have a lot of fun doing it."
If there is a respectable 0-4 team out there, it is Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have lost three games by a total of six points, and all four losses have been against teams currently sporting winning records. The biggest reason for their first three losses, quarterback Josh Freeman, plays for another team now. His replacement, rookie Mike Glennon, cost his team a chance to win with a late pick 2 weeks ago against the Cardinals, but the bye week could not have come at a better time for this team.
Still, Glennon should be a welcome relief for an Eagles defense that has played all five of its games against top-tiered quarterbacks. Looked through the other prism, Foles should be preferred by Tampa's aggressive defense.
Again, the operative word is should.
Foles is not nearly as threatening or elusive with his feet as Vick is, although coach Chip Kelly mentioned the other day that in watching his performance in a 23-21 victory over Tampa Bay last season, "Nick kept a lot of drives alive with his feet in that game."
Perhaps trying to win a starting job that some had speculated wasn't available, Foles was mistake-prone in preseason, and by its end, naming Vick as the starter was a formality. But the same traits that many saw as reason to name Foles No. 1 are still there. At 6-5, he is better equipped than Vick to see receivers and get them the ball running across the middle, especially from the pocket.
That door swings both ways, too: Receivers may see the ball sooner coming out, especially given Foles' 12 o'clock arm slot. As a thrower, Vick plays smaller than his 6-1 frame. As a thrower, Foles plays taller.
That's not a value statement, just an empirical one.
But the best part about Foles can be found in his similarities with the man he is likely to replace Sunday. His second half against the Giants should imply that the Eagles can hit the ground running and passing in Tampa, grabbing a lead before the Bucs can make that adjustment Schiano spoke about yesterday.
"I said that when we made the decision that it felt like you need to have two quarterbacks," Kelly said yesterday. "And I feel like we do have two quarterbacks."
On Twitter: @samdonnellon