Vick Leaves Early (Again), Foles Plays the Hero (Again) But Has the Depth Chart Changed?

Vick Leaves Early (Again), Foles Plays the Hero (Again) But Has the Depth Chart Changed?

In many ways, Monday night's preseason football game was eerily similar to the one the Eagles played against the Steelers a week and a half ago -- only this was far, far worse. With any and all of their relevant starters on the bench, the New England Patriots somehow jumped out to an 11-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Eagles defense had trouble getting off the field, and Michael Vick once again was hurt early with an apparent injury to his ribs, the same type of injury that caused him to miss games in each of the past two seasons.
But hey, don't sweat it. Rookie/savior Nick Foles entered the game in his place and proceeded to lead three touchdown drives, in the process helping the Birds to a 27-17 victory. Things are totally all right. In fact, we can probably just forget about Foles making a play as the number two quarterback. Andy Reid should name him the starter effective immediately. /eye roll
Although Foles' faster-than-anticipated ascendency is saving what would otherwise be a torturous preseason to date—and we the football-starved people appreciate that—it comes with a few grains of salt. 
To begin, while Foles' was again impressive last night, his first couple of scoring drives were aided by a pair of turnovers. Fellow rookie Brandon Boykin forced a fumble working as a gunner on the punt coverage team, flying up the sideline and landing a shot on the returner as the ball arrived. From there, the Eagles were able to go 24 yards on three runs for the score. A couple plays later, a Philip Hunt strip-sack gave the Birds the ball on New England's 12, setting up Foles for a two-play march and TD pass. Great news for folks interested in seeing how the offense looked near the goal line. 
Later, with most of the Eagles' first stringers still in the game, Foles led an eight-play, 80 yard scoring drive against the Patriots' third string defense to open the third quarter. Take that, Vick!
Don't get me wrong, like anybody else, I am impressed with the rookie quarterback. His performances have been fun to watch during what has been an otherwise vastly disappointing preseason. He's shown a ton of poise and promise, especially in extended action following Vick's injury on Monday night. (Yes, Vick is supposedly okay... again… but more testing will be done.) So far, the Arizona product is 24/36 for 361 yards, four touchdowns, and one pick.
That said, we probably all need a friendly reminder that Foles' accomplishments have come when he has staring solely down the barrel of second- and third-string defenses during a time of year when opponents aren't exactly throwing the types of fastballs that typically make young quarterbacks flinch. For a third-round pick, it's fair to say Foles has exceeded expectations at this early juncture in his career, and if he winds up being the starter in Cleveland this Friday for exhibition number three, he may just have a shot at slipping into the primary backup spot behind Vick with another strong outing.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Mike Kafka's last preseason was not so bad either -- granted not quite this good – but he is quickly being written off amidst the combination of an injury and the guy behind him on the depth chart playing better than expected. Kafka seemingly demonstrated he was a gamer last summer, going 34/49 for 368 yards (7.5 Avg) with two touchdowns and two picks in 2011, good for a passer rating of 87.8. He also very nearly led the Eagles to a comeback victory in Atlanta in Week 2 of the regular season, which holds considerably more weight than what either he or Foles has done in the preseason.
Obviously Foles has greater upside, and that's why the Eagles drafted him. But, he's a rookie, and not one being immediately groomed to start. This is year three for Kafka, and while nobody will confuse him as the QB of the future, as long as he gets healthy, I'm not so sure he isn't still the backup if Vick got hurt in... let's say Week 1. That's what Kafka's been groomed for since his arrival in Philadelphia, and as long as we're basing one's ability on preseason action, let's not forget he too has succeeded to some degree on that level, plus he's had considerably more time in the offense.
None of which is to say the job isn't up for grabs, and that Foles couldn't or shouldn't be the first name called if Vick continues to get bitten by the injury bug. We just don't know yet. Of course, there's also very little to compare Foles against in these two exhibitions -- just nine passes from Kafka, several of which apparently were after sustaining the injury that would ultimately keep him out of the Pats game. Missing snaps due to injury certainly isn't an excuse that will keep the backup role warm for Kafka, but for now, if we're being realistic, I feel it's best to view Foles' success to date with tempered enthusiasm. If we're just looking for some enjoyment in the preseason, by all means, Foles has been a major bright spot, and that's even more encouraging in the long term. So have at it. 
The competition for backup QB is probably still up for grabs though, and the depth chart will be heavily influenced by Kafka's health between now and the start of the season, rather than just Foles' success against vanilla and/or second/third string defenses.
As for Vick, he needs to be smarter or this discussion becomes a lot more than a wait-and-see pondering. With one of Vick's bigger question marks being his ability to stay on the field, he's done little to inspire confidence in the few preseason snaps he's taken. On the play during which he was injured in game 2, Evan Mathis did not hear Jason Kelce change the blocking assignments at the line, resulting in a free rusher with a direct line at the quarterback. Rather than scramble out of the pocket and throw it away -- or hell, this is preseason, just spike it for an intentional grounding -- Vick turned back toward the pass rush to heave a pass downfield, exposing himself to a huge hit to his ribs. Obviously much of the blame rests on the offensive line here, but sometimes the QB also needs to know when to wave to white flag.
We'll have a more detailed review of the game later.
(Photos by Mark L. Baer, US Presswire)

Mike McQueary calls his ban from Penn State facilities 'wrong'

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Mike McQueary calls his ban from Penn State facilities 'wrong'

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — The former Penn State assistant football coach suing Penn State told jurors Friday he was angered when told he could not return to team facilities after being put on leave the week Jerry Sandusky was charged with child molestation.

Mike McQueary testified in the fifth day of trial in his lawsuit, where he's seeking more than $4 million in lost wages and other claims.

School officials have testified that safety concerns prompted them to put McQueary on paid administrative leave in November 2011, and he never returned to the football program.

"They tell me, the guy who turned in a pedophile," to stay away from team facilities, he testified. "And they let him go around there for years after they knew about it not once but twice. That gets me. That does not make sense to me. It's wrong."

McQueary says he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower in 2001 and reported it to then-head coach Joe Paterno and two administrators. Another complaint was investigated in 1998 but produced no charges until authorities took a new look at the case starting in 2009.

His testimony helped convict Sandusky of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in 2012, but he has not been able to find a job.

McQueary told jurors he got a sense his status with the program was in trouble in the days after Sandusky was charged with molestation and two high-ranking school officials were charged with perjury and failing to properly report suspected child abuse.

The only university official who offered him words of encouragement during that period was Paterno, he said. He recounted an exchange they had on the practice field shortly before the school's trustees fired Paterno.

He said the aging coach told McQueary he had not done anything wrong and warned him not to trust "Old Main" — the administration building.

"He specifically said, 'Make sure you have a lawyer. You're all right. You didn't do anything wrong.' He was very, the word I want to use is, unselfish, about all of it," McQueary said.

He also recounted seeing Sandusky with the boy in the shower in 2001, slamming his locker door shut and seeing that they had separated.

McQueary did not say anything, physically intervene or call police, but he did contact Paterno the next day.

"I think one of the concerns perhaps in the very first minute is, Who's going to believe me? Who is going to believe when I tell them that Jerry Sandusky was doing this?" McQueary testified. "I didn't know if my dad would believe me. I didn't know if anyone would believe me. And to his credit, Coach Paterno did believe me."

Coach mum on Giants' awareness of Josh Brown's abuse record

Coach mum on Giants' awareness of Josh Brown's abuse record

LONDON -- The New York Giants have yet to decide whether Josh Brown will stay on the team after admitting he abused his former wife, coach Ben McAdoo said Friday in a press conference that raised more questions about the franchise's knowledge of the kicker's off-field behavior.

McAdoo faced repeated questioning about Brown following the Giants' first practice in London for a game Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brown did not travel to London and the team has yet to say if he will be suspended or cut following the release of county police records in which the player said he physically abused his wife, Molly, over a protracted period. She told police in the documents released by the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington state that the abuse and other threatening behavior stretched from 2009, when she was pregnant with their daughter, to the Pro Bowl in January 2016.

At the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Brown's wife said she called NFL security to move her and her three children to another hotel to avoid harassment from her estranged husband. She said he had pounded on their hotel door seeking to get in. The allegation is included in the final report filed last month by the local investigating detective, Robin Ostrum.

Brown's former wife did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

A law firm representing the kicker declined comment.

When asked whether the Giants knew about Brown's behavior at the Pro Bowl, McAdoo repeatedly said the Giants were still gathering information on the 9-month-old event. Finally, he said: "I'm not going to answer that."

When a reporter asked McAdoo about his comments in August suggesting he would show no tolerance for players abusive of their family members, McAdoo said his comments then were more nuanced.

"When did I say zero tolerance?" he said, adding: "I do not support domestic violence, if that's what you're asking. I do not condone it."

McAdoo described Brown as a "man of faith" who was trying to improve his behavior and the Giants organization was supporting him in this. But when asked to explain how the Giants provided this or monitored his off-field behavior, McAdoo said he couldn't detail any specific acts of support.

The NFL's official policy is to suspend players guilty of domestic abuse for six games on their first offense. Brown was suspended for one game, the Giants' season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys, in punishment for his May 2015 arrest at his family home in Woodinville, Washington, on suspicion of assaulting his wife by grabbing one of her wrists as she tried to reach for a phone, leaving an abrasion and bruising. No charges were filed but the detective, Ostrum, gathered detailed statements from Molly Brown who also provided her husband's written admissions of abuse in diary and email entries.

The NFL said its investigators asked to see these records but were denied.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested in a BBC interview Friday that Brown could face further punishment now that league officials can see the full King County evidence file detailing Molly Brown's allegations of more than 20 episodes of abuse fueled by alcohol and other threatening behavior to herself, her two sons from a previous relationship and the couple's daughter.

"We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that's been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren't able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have," Goodell said in a transcript of the London interview provided by the BBC.

"We take this issue incredibly seriously. ... When it happens we're not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we'll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we'll take it from there," Goodell said.

The Giants in April re-signed Brown to a two-year contract valued at $4 million. When facing his one-game suspension, Brown in August said he was divorced from his wife, although police documents released Wednesday suggested that civil proceedings remain incomplete.

The Giants have signed kicker Robbie Gould, an 11-year veteran of the Chicago Bears who was cut in September for salary cap reasons. The 34-year-old is expected to practice with the team Saturday.

"I've seen him (Gould) make a lot of kicks against me in the past. He's been successful, and we're hoping that continues," McAdoo said.