Friday, August 16, 2013

This Just In: Michael Vick Is Winning The Eagles Starting QB Job

Together, They Form Voltron
This isn't going to make the people who have been longing for the end of the Mike Vick Era any happier in Philadelphia. Nor will it matter very much for the NFC playoff race, because as much fun as this Eagles team looks, they really aren't going to win more than 8 games in 2013, and that number might include exhibition games. But for the sheer and simple of what's going on between the lines, there really isn't any doubt. Vick is a better QB, at least right now, than Nick Foles.

And it's not so close as to make the team put a thumb on the scales and go with the younger and cheaper guy, either.

When the Chip Kelly offense is going well, and the new/old offensive line is pancaking people (a lot of that has been going on in preseason, which is downright encouraging, especially since Jason Peters has yet to make an appearance), it doesn't even seem to matter who is under center. After all, they are just the point guard; it's the RBs running through gaping holes, the WRs running after simple catches, and the TEs roasting mismatched defenders that look like the real stars. Assuming, of course, that you don't just want to hype the coach.

But the QB still has to get them all to the line with the pace that's making everyone look better than they are, and they have to make the throws. And while Foles has been doing that, he does it without, well, any margin for error... and as the first quarter pick in his part of the Panthers game tonight showed, his ability to avoid turnovers isn't exactly airtight, either. He's a big kid without much foot speed; if the rush gets to him, the play is over. Like, well, most QBs, but not like Vick.

There's also this, which probably doesn't matter that much, but should be said anyway... Vick played better than Foles last year. Not by a ton, but still. The team also had a better won/loss percentage with him, too. (I know, deck chairs on the Titanic, yes.)

So, let's assume what our eyes are telling us, and that Vick's winning the job from Foles. (Tonight's 9 for 10 effort from Vick was also pretty damned great; the 10th was a Hail Mary pick at the end of the half, and really shouldn't count.) Does he keep it? Well, betting on health from Vick is like betting on a flush draw; you might get paid, but you should be prepared to suffer, too. And the guy that's under center for the Eagles right now is still likely to hold on to the ball and try to do something big with it, with the likely consequences. But instead of having that happen a half dozen times a quarter, as it did under the old regime, it's more like six times a game... which means that his opportunities for injury have dropped as well. (Admittedly, I'm probably making the error of thinking the Patriot and Panther defense are league average, when they are probably below.)

Two exhibition games does not a war make, and it's telling that Kelly hasn't announced a victor yet. Once the live bullets start flying and the team starts needing to put up 30+ points to give itself a chance to win (and don't doubt that's coming -- this secondary won't be as historically clowned as last year's, but the confetti bucket will still be a weekly occurrence), I don't doubt that Vick's going to try too hard and force mistakes, and Kelly will likely have a quick hook.

But on a beautiful August evening that was tonight, Vick looked like anything but a 33-year-old guy with injury issues. Foles looked like, well, a young backup on his way to becoming an old backup, rather than someone who was going to break down the door and seize a job.

But Foles does have one thing going for him. He looks better, so far, than Matt Barkley, so the fan base isn't going to throw him over for the New Flavor just yet...

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