I don’t know how this Eagles quarterback situation is ultimately going to shake out. But I find it more than a little amusing when I hear Michael Vick supporters say it wouldn’t be fair for him to lose his job because of injury.
Hello, people? How do you think he got it in the first place? Heading into the 2010 season, the plan was for Kevin Kolb to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback for the next 30 or 40 years. Yes, it was a bad idea. But it was Andy Reid’s bad idea.
Vick was the backup. Period. End of story. There wasn’t even a training camp competition that summer. He was just a guy trying to put his life back together.
Then, in Week 1, Kolb suffered a concussion on a hit from Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Vick replaced him and found lightning in a bottle, completing 16 of 24 passes against the Packers and 21 of 34 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Lions.
When Kolb recovered from his concussion, Reid informed us and him that he was going to go with the hot hand and stick with Vick.
Was it the right move? Yes, absolutely. Would it be the right move now to go with the hot hand? I don’t know. I’m still wrestling with that one. But enough already with the you-can’t-lose-your-job-because-of-injury bull. This is the NFL. Of course you can.
While we wait to see what’s going to happen, here are some Nick Foles numbers to mull over:
--In six-plus quarters since replacing the injured Vick , Foles has a 125.1 passer rating, a 67.8 completion percentage, has averaged 8.9 yards per attempt and has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions.
--Foles was 5-for-6 for 37 yards on third down against the Bucs. Against the Giants a week earlier, he was 6-for-7 for 55 yards.
--Since replacing Vick, Foles is 13 for 19 for 184 yards with 1 touchdown when opponents have blitzed him.
--He was 3-for-4 with one touchdown pass in the red zone Sunday. Against the Giants, he was 1-for-1 with a touchdown in the red zone.
--Foles was a perfect 3-for-3 for 95 yards and 3 touchdowns Sunday on throws that traveled 20 or more yards. That includes the 12-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, which was caught in the back of the end zone. Since replacing Vick, he is is 5-for-6 for 148 yards and four TD passes on throws of 20 yards or more.
DESEAN IS TURNING RED
A couple of weeks ago, I asked DeSean Jackson why he has had so little impact in the red zone. In the previous two seasons, he had a total of four red-zone receptions and two touchdowns. In his first five NFL seasons, he had just five touchdown catches in the red zone.
“Honestly, probably being an under six-foot guy (has hurt),’’ he said. “I’m not going to go up and catch a lot of jump balls.
“I don’t know. It’s been what it’s been. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been a deep threat and a home run hitter. Whatever the plan is, whatever the coach calls, I have to go out there and do my job. If I get more opportunities in the red zone, I’d love that. If not, that’s good too.’’
Chip Kelly apparently has decided being small is no excuse for not catching passes in the red zone. Because Jackson suddenly is a red zone threat. He had a five-yard touchdown catch in the red zone against the Giants two weeks ago, and he had two catches in the red zone Sunday against the Bucs, including a 12-yard touchdown. Through six games, Jackson leads the Eagles in red zone receptions and red zone touchdown catches.
BY THE NUMBERS
--The Eagles have the second best interception percentage in the league (1.0). They’ve thrown just two interceptions in 193 attempts. The Broncos are first (0.8). Peyton Manning has just two interceptions in 243 attempts. Eagles quarterbacks haven’t thrown an interception in their last 120 attempts.
--The Eagles ran a season-high 30.8 percent of their plays (20 of 65) out of 12 personnel (1 back, 2 tight ends, 2 wide receivers) Sunday. Foles threw all three of his touchdown passes out of two-tight end sets. He was 7-for-7 for 118 yards when the Eagles used 12 personnel.
--LeSean McCoy rushed for 42 yards on seven carries on third down against the Bucs. In the Eagles’ first five games, he had just 54 yards on 13 third-down carries.
--Sixty-one of McCoy’s 116 rushing yards Sunday came on runs to the right side.
SPOTLIGHT ON. . . . FLETCHER COX
Chip Kelly said Monday that Fletcher Cox “may have played his best game since we have been here.’’ And he was right.
Cox played poorly in the Eagles’ first four games. Stinking up the joint wouldn’t be an exaggeration. He played like a three-technique tackle who had convinced himself he didn’t belong in Bill Davis’ 2-gap 3-4.
But then he turned in a solid performance last week against the Giants and followed it up with a Pro Bowl-calibre effort against the Bucs. He did an excellent job against the run, helping hold Doug Martin to 67 yards on 16 carries, and was the Eagles’ best pass-rusher, recording two quarterback hits and five hurries.
Cox moved around, sometimes playing right end, sometimes playing left end, sometimes playing over the center or as a three technique.
On a second-and-four play on the Bucs’ second possession, he got good inside push on quarterback Mike Glennon and helped force an intentional grounding. In the second quarter, he drew a holding penalty from left guard Ted Larsen that foiled a 10-yard run by Mike James. Cox had shifted from the gap between the center and Larsen to right over Larsen just before the ball was snapped. He got penetration and probably would have tackled James for a loss if Larsen hadn’t held him.
On the very next play, lining up at left tackle, he beat veteran left guard Davin Joseph and hit Glennon’s arm as he was throwing, forcing an incompletion.
Cox showed the impressive quickness that convinced the Eagles to select him with the 12th pick in the 2012 draft on a second-and-goal play at the nine-yard line in the fourth quarter. He beat his man and got pressure on Glennon. Only a nice cut-block by Martin prevented him from getting a sack. But he did force Glennon to get rid of the ball quicker than he had wanted, which resulted in an incompletion.
After the Eagles went up 28-20, Cox made a nice solo tackle on martin to hold him to a one-yard gain. On the next play, Glennon ran a bootleg to Cox’s side. But the defensive lineman wasn’t fooled. He pressured the rookie quarterback and forced another incompletion.
--Vinny Curry played a season-high 25 snaps against the Bucs. He played a total of 39 snaps in the first five games.
--Rookie tight end Zach Ertz’s playing time continues to escalate. He played a season-high 42 snaps Sunday, just six fewer than starting tight end Brent Celek. Ertz was targeted six times by Foles and had three catches for 13 yards, one for a first down. Eight of his 10 catches this season have resulted in first downs.
--Damaris Johnson played just five offensive snaps against the Bucs, but did catch his first pass of the season. Johnson, who played 235 snaps last season as an undrafted rookie, has played just 23 this season, though he is the team’s primary punt and kickoff returner. Jeff Maehl has replaced him as the team’s No. 4 wideout. It’s clear Chip Kelly has major reservations about putting the 5-8 Johnson on the field with 5-9 ½ DeSean Jackson.
--Offensive lineman Allen Barbre played nine second-half snaps Sunday after left tackle Jason Peters injured his shoulder. He was on the field for Foles’ 47-yard touchdown pass to Cooper. Peters returned to the game in the fourth quarter.
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