Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why did Michael Vick play Sunday?

Giants 15, Eagles 7

Why did Michael Vick play Sunday?

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. (Michael Perez/AP)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. (Michael Perez/AP)

Michael Vick admitted the truth yesterday afternoon, after he got to talking for a while. As soon as Nick Foles suffered that concussion last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, Vick and his sore hamstring were coming back. As he said, "Once Nick got hurt last week, I just made up my mind that I was going to try to get out there."

Thus began what turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It also happens to be Chip Kelly's biggest mistake to date as the Eagles' coach, his failure to make the best of a wretched situation.

Vick never should have played yesterday against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. It was obvious by the second series of a game in which he lasted only four series - oh, and that fourth series was painful to watch; Vick could barely move, even as he handed off the ball.

Rookie Matt Barkley should have been given a week of first-team reps in practice, so that he might have had a fighting chance. Instead, he went into the game cold, again, and failed to muster a point.

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Would you have started Michael Vick against the Giants?
Yes. He seemed healthy enough to play at game time.
No. A hamstring injury like that needs more time to heal.
No, use Matt Barkley. He was healthy and that’s his job as a backup.

As it was, the Eagles lost an entirely winnable game against the Giants by 15-7. Kelly was telling the truth when he said, "Right now, we're unstable at the quarterback spot and we are not playing well at the quarterback spot, and we lost our last two games because of it." But the other truth is that he did not do everything he could to stabilize the instability last week.

Kelly did not commit malpractice here - it's nothing like that. Rather, he banked on hope - and, also, on his respect for Vick. It is an admirable quality, by the way, that respect. But the result was that Kelly allowed Vick to dictate the outcome of the decision and, because of that, he not only did not maximize the Eagles' chances to win this week but also probably postponed the date when Vick will again be truly healthy.

And after it was over, Vick admitted, amazingly, "I really can't say if I should have or shouldn't have played. I took it upon myself to try to get ready this week to go out there and help this football team win."

Hamstrings are tricky, and that does need to be acknowledged. But Kelly's mistake was that he did not force the issue earlier in the week. Forget the 100-yard sprint that Vick said he was going to do to test it - that never happened, Kelly said - but there should have been some kind of definitive early push. Kelly's reply was, "I go with whatever the trainers or doctors tell me. So for me to go out there and say, 'I think we need to be doing this from a rehab standpoint,' that's not my expertise. I listen to them and Mike and we make a plan accordingly."

The plan was mostly about listening to Mike, it seems. Vick ran around a little bit on Tuesday and said he felt OK, after which they let him run around a little more on Wednesday, after which he said he felt OK, after which came Thursday and Friday and Saturday and OK and OK and OK - all while Vick admitted, in hindsight, "There's just nothing like actually being in the moment and having to move and having to react. When I did that, that's when I pulled it again. I felt the 'pop.'"

Every day that they let Vick run around and tell them that he felt OK was another day of first-team reps that Barkley did not receive, and every day of first-team reps that Barkley did not receive made his candidacy as a credible alternative less viable.

"It's Catch-22 for everybody," Kelly said, when asked about the whole reps thing. Again, that is true. Vick did need the work after missing two games. But giving him the vast majority of the work is also how this situation turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. At a certain point, there was no turning back - unless, of course, Vick asked out. And that was simply not going to happen.

None of us knows for sure what the first-team reps might have done for Barkley against the Giants. Logic suggests they would have helped, but we really don't know. With that, consider the last two games: Foles, freezing; Vick, one-legged; Barkley, untested. The offense is completely off the rails because of that, and the "College Boy" jackals will be back in force this week as a result. This will be Kelly's burden until he wins something in the NFL.

That is not the criticism here. Rather, on this day, what it feels like mostly is that Kelly failed to make the best of a bad situation.

Email: hofmanr@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @theidlerich

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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Eagletarian is your home for comprehensive coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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