Practically every Eagles fan understands this team in all likelihood does not have its franchise quarterback. For all the words that were spent on Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley and which one should or should not start, there are legitimate doubts that any one of them could ever be the man in Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly lamented the “unsettled” quarterback situation after the Birds’ 15-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, essentially laying the last two losses on the club’s lack of a proper field general. The head coach isn’t wrong about how difficult it is to win in the NFL without a QB, but it’s not impossible. After all, the Denver Broncos went to the playoffs one year with Tim Tebow at the helm.
What? You thought this was gonna be an “Eagles Shood Sign Tebow” story? Let’s get one thing straight right out of the chute: this is NOT a call for the Philadelphia Eagles to sign Tim Tebow in any capacity, let alone to play quarterback.
Somebody—maybe lots of somebodies—will inevitably try to tell me Tebow is good, that the only reason he’s not with an NFL team is politics. Every statistic and metric we have, even technology as simple eyesight tells us otherwise though.
Tim Tebow stinks. He’s out of the league less than two years after starting a game in the postseason because he can’t play. And as for those eight wins in 2011? Largely defensive victories (look it up).
Defensive victories not unlike the one the Eagles should have pulled off on Sunday. Whenever an opponent is held out of the end zone for the full 60 minutes, that result should be a W every time. Unfortunately, Kelly’s squad couldn’t score either, their lone touchdown coming on an unforced special teams miscue by the Giants. Why?
If you listen to Chip, it’s because his quarterbacks were incapable of getting the job done.
That’s probably true of Vick, who appeared to be laboring with a strained hamstring from the outset. Vick aggravated the injury and exited the game in the second quarter, evidence that he shouldn’t have been playing in the first place. It was admirable of the 11-year veteran to try, but the head coach should not have allowed that to transpire.
If Barkley was incapable, it’s because Kelly did him few favors. Barkley could have prepared as the starter all week in practice—instead his first-team reps were limited. The rookie could’ve started the game when a clean slate rather than enter late in the first half trailing 12-0. The fourth-rounder could’ve been protected by a run-heavy game plan, particularly down at the goal line where Barkley fumbled points away.
All things considered, Barkley didn’t play poorly, completing 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards with an interception in garbage time. That’s not great, but Tebow has won games in this league completing 2-of-8 for 69 yards.
Lots of bad quarterbacks have piled up wins in the NFL. Derek Anderson won 10 games with the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Matt Cassel led the New England Patriots to 11 in ’08—hell, Cassel is responsible for the Minnesota Vikings’ only win this season. Even Blaine Gabbert has won some games during his three years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The list goes on forever.
We’re not talking about winning the Super Bowl or even the NFC East here. We’re talking about winning one game against an opponent with a 2-6 record that is literally trying to give games away by snapping the ball over the punter’s head in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos won eight games and upended the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs in ’11 because the coaching staff adapted to their shortcomings under center. They didn’t just throw their hands in the air and cry, “Well, we don’t have a quarterback!” They tailored their entire game plan around Tebow’s strengths and shortcomings, and because the defense held opponents to 17 points or less most weeks, they pulled out some unlikely victories.
For a head coach that claims he doesn’t have a system, that he’s personnel driven, I haven’t noticed many adjustments or differences at all from Chip when Vick is under center compared to Foles or Barkley. For example, why are the Eagles using read-option concepts on virtually every running play when the QB isn’t a threat to keep it?
Granted, not all bad performances are created equal. When Foles was struggling to complete 37 percent of his passes during a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys one week earlier, that performance was so ghastly there is not much the head coach could’ve done differently to salvage the game.
Barkley was nowhere near so ineffective versus New York. If only he had been given the week to prepare for the game, if only the game plan had been tailored to Barkley’s strengths, maybe they escape the Linc with a win in Week 8 and finally end that nasty home losing streak.
The Eagles lost by eight, not 28. It was a one-possession game. Could they have made up those eight points by not wasting a half to find out Mike Vick wasn’t healthy, by handing the ball off to LeSean McCoy a few extra times and especially at the goal line? Maybe, maybe not, but don’t blame the quarterbacks every time something goes wrong. We’ve all seen far worse performances than Barkley’s in wins.