In case you missed it, Michael Vick injured his left hamstring late in the 2nd quarter, in yesterday’s 36-21 win over the Giants. Vick rolled out left and scampered untouched for a 13-yard gain, grabbing at his hamstring just before going out of bounds. He did not go off the field, however, with the injury, but instead stayed in the game and finished the drive leading the Eagles to a field goal. After the Giants ensuing offensive possession stalled, Vick came back out onto the field. He took the snap, went to roll left and was moving very gingerly trying to get out of the pocket to throw the ball away. The coaching staff had seen enough, inserting Nick Foles into the lineup. Vick finished completing 6-of-14 (43%) passes for 105 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He wasn’t playing quite as bad as his passing stats would have you believe as he also added 79 yards rushing on 7 attempts and did lead the team to 16 points and a 9-point lead before coming out of the game with the injury.
In relief of Vick, Nick Foles came in to add on another 20 points, finishing 16-of-25 (64%) passing with 197 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs in just a bit over a half of play. The offense looked very different when Foles came in. The running game, which was where the Eagles offense saw success in the first half under Vick, stalled in the second half. However, the passing game that looked anemic in the 1st half under Vick came alive under Foles.
Foles found some rhythm with short to intermediate strikes which opened up some plays deep, including a beautiful 25-yard strike to Brent Celek for a TD. Not only was Foles finding open receivers, but he made some pretty nice anticipation throws as well, including a hitch-and-go fade to DeSean Jackson in the back corner of the end zone from the 5-yard line for Foles second & final passing TD on the day. Yes, for those doing a double-take, I said DJax scored in the red zone, from the 5-yard line! This completion was a pure beauty and something that we are not remotely used to seeing being completed, let alone caught by Jackson.
The point here that needs to be made is that Foles was finding the open receiver, hitting them in stride, or throwing them open. That’s just a complete 180 from the passing game we’re used to seeing from Vick. Does that mean the passing game is better under Foles? Not necessarily, but if Vick would make some of these types of throws he would be lethal. Vick’s game tends to be to wait for the big play to develop and let his receivers get separation and if they don’t, he has his legs to do some damage with. To use the oft-coined phrase, he’s “electric” boogey-woogey-woogey-woogey (ok, bad joke).
Foles’ game is a more controlled and rhythmic passing attack, dinking and dunking, with some sprinkles deep when he sees a favorable match-up. There is nothing wrong or right with either of them, they’re just different. Neither QB was losing the game when their time was up. Vick outscored the Giants 16-7, Foles 20-14 and the Eagles won 36-21. I will say that I do see more swagger and leadership ability in Vick, and to me that is important for a starting QB. I just don’t get that vibe from Foles, but that may just be me. However, looking at Vick from his Atlanta days to now, I guess it’s certainly very possible that Foles can develop this trait as he continues to mature and gain confidence.
Now looking towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It looks very likely that Michael Vick will miss this game with his injured hamstring, possibly more, so Foles will get the start. Does that mean that Vick lost his starting job due to one good half from Foles? No. Vick clearly played better in the preseason to earn his place as the starter. It’s going to take more than that to unseat Vick.
However, Foles does have the opportunity to steal the show with Vick sidelined. This is the NFL (Not For Long), and as long as Vick is out with his injury there is not much that he can do but hopefully cheer his teammate on as he works to get this team back to .500 against the Bucs. The ball is in Foles’ court to showcase himself on whether he deserves to take over as the full-time starter. So what will it take for Foles to take the job? How about 65%, 350 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception? Who knows, but it will take more than one good game. Foles is going to have play to the point that they just can’t take him off the field, much like Vick in 2010 in relief of the concussed Kevin Kolb. What that ideal stat line looks like to Chip Kelly, I’m not so sure.
I had been going back and forth with people in regards to Vick vs Foles and who should start prior to the injury and I finally came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t matter right now 5 games into the season. Let’s face it, Michael Vick, at 34 years old, is not the way you want to go next year if you’re trying to build this team primarily through the draft and not only sustain competitiveness, but also compete for a Super Bowl or even possibly multiple. So in keeping with that mindset, at some point you’ve got to take a look at what you have and see if you need to take your QB of the future search elsewhere and start evaluating the prospects coming out next year. This is an earlier opportunity than I had anticipated for the coaching staff to get a look at Foles in real game situations (that count now) to see how he operates and some data to reflect on when considering Foles as a possible QB of the future. I didn’t think we’d see Foles get an opportunity to start until after the Eagles bye week, barring injury of course. That would give Chip and his staff 5 solid games with which to evaluate Foles future.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt to open opportunities. But such is life in the NFL, and that means taking the bad and hoping something good comes from it. It’s a bad thing that Vick got hurt, but the good thing that comes from that is that we get to see if we need to find ourselves a quarterback to lead our team for the next 10-12 years. I have a feeling that come next May, we will be doing just that. But if I’m wrong, and Foles does end up proving to be the guy to lead us for the next decade, I’ll certainly be cheering him on and praying that the Eagles get a monster OLB in next year’s draft.