Inside the Eagles: Vick makes Kelly's offense his own
LANDOVER, Md. - Michael Vick had all sorts of time.
The Eagles spent less time between plays than Vick had in the pocket.
The clock kept ticking, and the Eagles quarterback kept going through his reads. One second, two seconds, three, four . . . . Often in the past, when Vick held onto the ball as long, he was about to make a poor decision. But he had what seemed like an eternity Monday night, and he waited for DeSean Jackson to slip free.
When the lithe receiver shook Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, Vick floated a 25-yard pass to Jackson in the back of the end zone for the first touchdown of the Chip Kelly era.
Three years earlier, at the same end of the field, Vick made a touchdown pass that symbolized his return to the spotlight. But that performance against the Redskins would be his high-water mark. He's had a few moments since, but otherwise Vick has been dormant.
Until Monday night.
Rejuvenated by Kelly, Vick has a fourth act. There were hints during the preseason that he would thrive in Kelly's up-tempo, hair-on-fire offense. But the new coach unleashed Vick in the Eagles' 33-27 win over the error-prone Redskins.
"I just like what we do, and I feel confident and comfortable with everything that Coach Kelly calls," Vick said.
Washington's Robert Griffin III is the new breed of quarterback, but one of the originals showed he still had a few tricks left in those 33-year-old legs. Vick was an efficient passer, zipping his throws and adding another touchdown when he connected with tight end Brent Celek for 28 yards.
"I thought Mike did a nice job," Kelly said. "There's probably one or two throws he probably wants back."
And he also ran when necessary, taking what the Redskins gave him in the read option. Vick ran for 54 yards on nine carries, including a 3-yard scoot for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 26-7 lead at the half.
But he also made his share of mistakes and took at least 10 too many hits. With Vick, as it always seems to be, he can be his own worst enemy. He threw across his body several times. He had a pass batted down that was ruled a lateral and returned for a touchdown. And he endured blow after blow.
The sliding ship has sailed. Vick will never land feet first and give himself up. But he still thinks like the Pop Warner running back. Vick even blocked for LeSean McCoy on two running plays. Admirable as that was, it was unnecessary.
"No, not at all," Vick said of whether he put himself at risk. "I pretty much control everything that can happen out there on the field. I didn't put myself in a position to protect myself at times. But that's what I train for. That's why I weigh 220 pounds."
Kelly's offense is poised for big things. And while it is safe to assume that Nick Foles can orchestrate it effectively enough to win games, Vick is the right maestro for this job. The problem is, he doesn't do enough conducting.
Kelly wants Jason Kidd as his quarterback. He wants a point guard who can distribute the ball without turnovers. Vick had the one misfire when Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan swatted his screen pass to LeSean McCoy.
But Vick avoided disaster the rest of the way. Kelly dropped him back to throw often in the early going, and he made most of the right reads. But he truly became his coach's instrument when he ran the read-option and McCoy zig-zagged his way behind the Eagles' zone blocking.
The Eagles running back rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries before the break. When McCoy darted 34 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter and the Eagles were up, 33-7, Kelly grounded his air game.
When the Redskins clawed their way back and cut the margin to 13, Vick put on his track cleats and motored 36 yards on the read-option. He tried to get out of bounds but couldn't and took another pointless hit.
A holding penalty took the Eagles out of field-goal range, but the defense got some much-needed breathing room after a punt.
Bill Davis' defense held, and, after the change of possession, Vick bought time, rolled out of the pocket, and hooked up with Jason Avant for 7 yards and a much-needed first down. With less than five minutes remaining and the Redskins needing two scores, it nailed down Kelly's first victory and the 57th of Vick's career as a starter.
Win No. 43 seems so long ago. The Eagles trounced the Redskins, 59-28, that November Monday night in 2010. Vick threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 80 yards and two scores.
His 3-yard touchdown pass to Avant in the back of the end zone - in which he weaved around in the pocket before stopping on a dime and tossing a dart to the receiver - was the culmination of his return.
Vick was nowhere near as spellbinding this Monday night.
The Eagles don't need him to be.
Contact Jeff McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow
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