Today in Duh: Mike Vick Not Excited to Split Reps with Nick Foles, Speak to Reporters

Today in Duh: Mike Vick Not Excited to Split Reps with Nick Foles, Speak to Reporters

It’s June, the season of non-controversies in the NFL.

Earlier in the week it was Cary Williams over his seeming failure to demonstrate a team-first attitude because he missed a few voluntary practices while tending to family obligations. Now it’s Michael Vick, who made the mistake of admitting he’s not exactly thrilled about competing with Nick Foles for the Eagles' starting quarterback job.

Daily News scribe Les Bowen more or less presented Vick’s comments at face value for his Eagletarian blog on Thursday. We'll leave it to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio to sensationalize the otherwise innocuous comments, although his opinion did resonate with many fans and others in the media.

“It’s tough,” Vick said Thursday regarding splitting reps with Foles.  “I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side, and just continue to compete.  But it’s hard.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but that’s just what I have to deal with, and I’m going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise.”

Vick has yet to broach the topic with coach Chip Kelly.

“We haven’t talked about it yet,” Vick said.  “Coach knows exactly what he’s doing. We don’t question him, he don’t question us.  We just listen.”

Of course, now that Vick has shared his complaints with the media, there’s no need to tell Kelly directly.

Vick’s comments come on the heels of an acknowledgement that he doesn’t know where he stands in the quarterback competition.  If he can’t handle the realities of a quarterback competition, it could mean that he’ll end up sitting.

Honestly, how do you expect Vick to respond? He was asked about splitting first-team reps with Foles, and he answered truthfully but professionally.

At the end of the day Vick feels the Eagles are still his team, that he already is the starter, which is the kind of confidence we usually expect from athletes – apparently we just don't like them to talk about it. Meanwhile, he respects the head coach’s decision, and will continue to work hard to win the job.

I guess Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler, should just be content to share reps with a kid gunning for his spot – and it was his spot, for the better part of three seasons. The mindset on display here is that of a franchise quarterback fighting for his livelihood, nothing more, nothing less.

Shortly after those comments went to press however, we heard more from Vick on the state of the QB competition from Geoff Mosher. It's unclear what specifically Mosh was pressing him about, but it prompted Vick to finally express his desire for Chip Kelly to end the speculation before training camp opens in July.

Here's the Florio version of events:

“Hopefully, Chip [Kelly] makes a decision before training camp and we won’t have to answer that question, so we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition every day,” Vick said.

Vick acknowledged that, if the competition lingers into camp, tension could rise between Vick and Foles.

“Yeah, but hopefully we’ll have an answer by then, so I’m not going to answer that,” Vick said, not realizing that he already answered that.

He added that he eventually won’t answer any questions about the competition.  Told that he’ll be criticized if that happens, Vick was pragmatic:  “Why not? Who cares?  Y’all [in the media] kill me anyway, whether it’s right or wrong.”

It’s clear that the pressure is getting under Vick’s skin.  Given Kelly’s unconventional methods, there’s a chance that he opted to defer naming a starter to see how Vick would respond.

The funny thing is Mosher later acknowledged the obvious on SportsNite, that a major source of Vick's frustration has come directly from dealing with the media.

Reporters have been putting Vick, along with Kelly and Foles, through the same line of questioning at every opportunity since the words "open competition" were spoken. And all of the questions are a variation of the same underlying inquiry: who was in the lead? Which is dumb, because true QB competitions aren't won or lost until the pads go on.

The real hypocrisy of scrutinizing Vick for wishing the media circus would end is Kelly and Foles reacted similarly to these interrogations as recently as Wednesday, one day earlier. According to the Inquirer's Zach Berman, Chip instructed reporters not to ask about the depth chart, while Foles offered a similar response.

Here's what we learned: Vick doesn't actually want to split reps with Foles, but will – astonishing – and he's tired of answering the same questions about it over and over – equally astonishing. That, and when nobody's talking, the first person to say anything is the bad guy.

>> Vick doesn’t like splitting reps [Eagletarian]
>> Mike Vick wants starter named before camp [CSN]

Temple vs. South Florida: Trip to conference championship at stake?


Temple vs. South Florida: Trip to conference championship at stake?

There’s no time to exhale for the Owls.

After pulling off a near-impossible comeback against UCF last week, Temple will play its toughest conference opponent yet when it faces USF at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night.

Heading into the game at 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the AAC, this game already has conference championship and bowl game implications for Temple.

The Bulls' offense ran all over the Owls during USF’s 44-23 victory when the teams met in Tampa last season. USF currently sits one game ahead of Temple at 3-0 in the AAC.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has struggled to find consistency this season. Temple ranks 91st in the FBS in total offense, averaging 378 yards per game.

Coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas will likely try to find ways to get the ball in senior running back Jahad Thomas’ hands on Friday. Since returning from injury against Penn State on Sept. 17, Thomas has scored two total touchdowns in every game. He has 357 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns in addition to 251 yards receiving and three touchdown catches. Sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead has complemented Thomas nicely with 403 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Giving up big plays has been the Achilles’ heel of Temple’s defense in 2016. The Owls have given up six touchdowns of 50 or more yards from scrimmage and a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown. UCF had two touchdowns of 50-plus yards last week.

Other than the long scores, Temple’s defense has been solid, holding opponents to 316.6 yards per game, which ranks 17th in the FBS. Redshirt senior defensive end Haason Reddick has been the Owls’ defensive star. He leads the team with 35 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks.

Scouting USF
It doesn’t get much better than USF’s backfield combo of junior quarterback Quinton Flowers andt junior running back Marlon Mack.

Flowers and Mack lead a Bulls’ offense that ranks eighth in both scoring offense and rushing offense. The two combined for 550 total yards and five touchdowns in last year’s victory over the Owls. Last week, Flowers threw for 213 yards, ran for 153 yards and totaled five touchdowns in a 42-27 win over UConn. Rodney Adams has been Flowers’ favorite target through the air this season. Adams has 32 catches for 459 yards and four touchdowns.

USF’s defense is giving up almost 26 points per game. The Bulls have held opponents to fewer than 20 points just once this season. At the same time, they’ve only given up more than 27 points once this season, and that was when No. 13 Florida State lit USF up for 55 points. Junior linebacker Auggie Sanchez has 65 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks. Senior linebacker Nigel Harris leads the team with two interceptions.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple’s defense contain a running quarterback?
UCF freshman McKenzie Milton broke off a 63-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper last week. Quarterbacks like Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, SMU’s Matt Davis and Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. gave the Owls problems by running the ball last season. Flowers is a special player who will once again challenge Temple with his arm and his legs. He threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 90 more yards and another score against Temple last season. If the Owls can find a way to shut down Flowers, they’ll give themselves a good shot to win the game.

What’s at stake: A trip to the conference championship?
After only three conference games, that might seem a little far-fetched. However, after last week’s win over UCF and a win on Friday, Temple would have tiebreakers over the only teams with fewer than two losses in the AAC East Division. A loss to the Bulls would give Temple two conference losses, meaning USF would likely have to lose three times for Temple to win the East, even if the Owls won all their remaining games.

South Florida’s offense looks poised to give Temple trouble once again, but the Owls have kept it close in every game this season. Flowers and Mack are too much for another Temple comeback. USF 31, Temple 20.

Eagles' defense knows it must quickly correct tackling issues

Eagles' defense knows it must quickly correct tackling issues

As Washington running back Matt Jones made a quick cut to head upfield for a 57-yard gain late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, linebacker Jordan Hicks, after he over-pursued and couldn’t make a diving play to recover, ended up face down, grasping for where Jones used to be.

That play on third down wrapped up the win for Washington.

A fitting end for an Eagles defense that had trouble tackling throughout the long afternoon at FedEx Field.

“When you shoot your gun, you've got to hit,” Hicks said on Thursday. “You can't miss.”

The Eagles missed plenty during their 27-20 loss to Washington. Missed tackles, seemingly out of nowhere, became a huge issue last week.

In all, according to ProFootballFocus, the Eagles missed 10 tackles on Sunday. And Washington picked up 156 yards after contact.

Coming into the week, the Eagles had missed just eight tackles and had given up just 149 yards after contact all year.

“We're at this point in the season where you're going up against these guys and your body might feel a certain way or whatever, but there are no excuses at this point,” Hicks said. “We understand that. We've worked a lot on tackling. We have really this whole time. So it's obviously a point of emphasis from the past two games. It's definitely something we have to correct.”

So the simple question is this: How do you fix missed tackles?

The answer isn’t so simple. Safety Malcolm Jenkins explained that once teams get into their seasons, they really don’t practice tackling anymore, especially with defensive backs. They’re more concerned with installing that week’s game plan and learning coverages.

Jenkins said linebackers practice tackling during the week some, but if defensive backs want to practice tackling, they have to do it on their own after the team practice is over.

While the tackling itself was bad on Sunday, there was a problem that led to the problem: bad angles.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said his players took too many bad angles to the ball, which makes it much more difficult to tackle. Hicks agreed, saying the effort was there, but the bad angles made things tough.

Perhaps the effort went a little too far.

“I think the other part of it in this [last] game, and again, one of our failures in this [last] game, is we let one play affect the next,” Schwartz said. “I think in the first three games, even parts of the Detroit game, we didn't let a bad play affect our next play. I referenced one of the toss sweeps, we were short on the block and then on the next play, we came up and everybody overran it and the ball cut all the way back on us.

“In other words, we over-corrected and guys were trying — rather than just doing their job, the old adage in the NFL is, ‘Do your job,’ and we got guilty of trying to cover up and do a little too much. They need to just concentrate on theirs and [make] good tackles.”

When asked on Thursday, Schwartz was critical of his defense and himself (see story). The Eagles gave up 230 yards on the ground and 493 yards total — by far their highest totals of the season.

And a lot of it was just not getting Washington players down when they had the chance.

“I think that needs to be fixed and we will fix it,” Fletcher Cox said. “We've just got to calm down and just play ball. You've got guys coming full speed at a ball carrier and of course sometimes they're going to whiff, but the second guy has to be there to get the guy on the ground.”

The good news for the Eagles is that the Vikings have been the worst rushing offense in the NFL through their first five games, averaging 2.5 yards per attempt. But Schwartz joked that after watching the Eagles’ film against Washington, the Vikings will try to run 65 times on Sunday.

They likely won't do that, but Minnesota will probably be happy to test the Eagles’ run defense on Sunday.

If the Eagles want to win, they’ll have to cut down on those pesky missed tackles.

“You just get back to work, man,” WILL linebacker Mychal Kendricks said. “I just think it was one of those games where he was just slipping off. We have some of the best tacklers on this team and we were missing tackles. It's as simple as that. I think we just get back to work, get back to the fundamentals and basics and handle our business.”