Before everyone overreacts to how things went down in the Meadowlands today, take a deep breath, remove your drunk goggles, and listen to me closely: There is absolutely no quarterback controversy with the Philadelphia Eagles. None. If Michael Vick’s hamstring heals up by the time the team takes the field in Tampa Bay next week, he will (and should) be the starter.
Upon replacing him at the end of the first half, Nick Foles led the Eagles on a beautiful 11 play, 75 yard drive that led to a last second field goal. And if you throw out that worthless third quarter, the offense didn’t look half bad with Foles connecting with Brent Celek on a gorgeous 25 yard lob pass in the endzone, and Desean Jackson on a 5 yard TD pass. The backup finished the day 16-of-25 for 197 and those two TDs.
While he was able to open up the passing game for the Birds and put up some impressive numbers for half a day, Foles is not the quarterback best suited to run Chip Kelly’s offense.
As Philly fans saw in the first 4.5 weeks of the season, this offense is predicated around the run and the read option. Being able to keep defenses off balance with an athletic quarterback (that’s not to say Foles isn’t athletic, but a healthy Vick is a much larger threat than Foles) who has the option to keep the ball, hand it off to one of the most elusive backs in the game, or throw it to one of the fastest wide receivers in the game, is what has helped Philly put together the league’s top-ranked rushing offense and a near-top-10 (their 11th) passing game.
With Vick on the sidelines, that top-ranked running game was nonexistent. The Giants, knowing damn well that Nick Foles wasn’t going to keep the ball on any “read-options,” were able to hone in on stopping LeSean McCoy or Bryce Brown. McCoy finished the day with 23 carries for 46 yards—a lackluster dar by his standards this season—but with Foles under center he managed just eight carries for -2 yards (yes negative-two)—his longest run in the second half was just four yards. Brown didn’t do much better, just four carries for 13 yards.
That’s not gonna cut it in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Foles brings a certain threat threat through the air that Vick might lack—he’s more accurate and less turnover-happy—which is nice, but at the same time, it hurts their ability to run the plays that have made their running attack so effective, and, in turn, their offense so effective.
Let’s not forget that entering this week, the Eagles trailed only the Broncos in total yards per game (458.8 per game)—not to mention they were 3rd in yards per play (6.6) and 2nd in plays of 20+ yards (77). Given all the changes in the last year and the injuries suffered at the wideout position, this offense is doing some tremendous things. (The same can’t be said about the other side of the ball, which has cost the Eagles at least a game, maybe two, in the first five weeks.)
And for those who of you who think Vick hasn’t done well so far this season, consider this: He’s on pace to set career highs in total yards (4,320)* and yards per completion (9.15)*, his second highest TD total (20)* and QB rating (93.2)*, and his second-lowest INT total (8)*.
If anything, Foles’ performance today proved to me that we have a backup who is more than capable of filling in
if when Vick gets hurt again. But that’s all. There’s a reason Vick was named the starter over Foles in the preseason—he’s the most fit quarterback to run the offense. That hasn’t changed because of the backup’s performance in one half of football.
So I’ll say it again. There is no quarterback controversy in Philly, and unless Vick’s performance hits a brick wall, there never will be.
Now, time to get ready for Tampa Bay.
*These are Vick’s projections based on current totals