Saturday, December 27, 2014

For Andy Reid, staying with Michael Vick is staying in character

Andy Reid felt it necessary to pop his head out of the bunker on Wednesday morning and say that Michael Vick is still his starting quarterback.

For Andy Reid, staying with Michael Vick is staying in character

Andy Reid announced Wednesday that Michael Vick is still the Eagles starting quarterback. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Andy Reid announced Wednesday that Michael Vick is still the Eagles starting quarterback. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Andy Reid felt it necessary to pop his head out of the bunker on Wednesday morning and say that Michael Vick is still his starting quarterback.

Maybe it was DeSean Jackson going on the radio to say he supported Vick but, hey, that Foles guy doesn't look so bad, either. The last thing the Eagles need right now is more tumult, even if unintended, so Reid decided to tell everyone to calm down.

Staying with Vick is staying in character for Reid. Changing quarterbacks at the moment would be either a sign of panic or resignation, and Reid is fond of neither.

As I wrote in this column: "Somehow, that doesn't seem like the choice Reid would make. His history is to try to punch his way out of setbacks, and Vick represents the best chance to do so. The next eight opponents have losing records at the moment. If the defense emerges from its fog, the offense can be tweaked to allow Vick to work better behind an offensive line that is barely semipro right now."

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The whole Is-Mike-Out thing was overblown from the start. It was the result of Reid being asked at his press conference Sunday whether he would consider a change at quarterback. Reid said he was going to go back and analyze everything, meaning everything about the whole team. He didn't give a specific answer, which is one of his specialties.

When Vick took the podium shortly after, he was told that Reid was contemplating a change, or hadn't ruled out a change, or whatever was necessary to put the question in front of Vick without coming right out and saying Reid hadn't done much more than shrugged. Vick took the high road and said he'd support whatever decision the coach made and, well, that started things rolling downhill.

Reid isn't changing quarterbacks for the very good reason that the quarterback isn't the problem. He hasn't been great, but he isn't the biggest problem.

In his first 81 pass attempts this season, Vick threw six interceptions and, yes, that is beyond awful. In his 185 pass attempts since, he has thrown two interceptions and that is very, very good.

Much of the difference is that Vick has learned not to trust his offensive line and he is getting rid of the ball quicker. If the coaching staff would like him to stay in there a little longer and pop a few down the field, Vick might invite them to try it for themselves.

This season, Vick led the team to three wins – that would be all of them – with fourth quarter drives, and turned a fourth-quarter lead over to the defense on two other occasions, only to see the defense squander it. In the other two losses, the Eagles trailed 24-0 to the Cardinals and 14-0 to the Falcons because the defensive script apparently isn't any better than the offensive one.

The offense is far from perfect, but Vick is still the best quarterback to lead it. He'd be better if Reid would let him take off and run more to keep defenses honest, but that's an old complaint. The head coach, in a week when nothing is changing, isn't changing that, either.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Bob Ford has been writing about Philadelphia sports since 1981, and is still trying to figure it all out. A former beat writer covering the Phillies and the 76ers, Ford became a general sports columnist for the Inquirer in 2003, following in and occasionally falling in the deep footsteps of Bill Lyon, Frank Dolson and many distinguished others. He comes to the Philly.com blogosphere after award-winning success as designer/editor of the fabulous Pen & Pencil Club softball blog. Likes: Palestra, inside-the-park home runs, sunny days. Dislikes: phony people, cloudy days, rewrites. Reach Bob at bford@phillynews.com.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
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