Why Cant Nick Foles Win a Quarterback Competition against Mike Vick?

Why Cant Nick Foles Win a Quarterback Competition against Mike Vick?

Chip Kelly called it an “open quarterback competition,” yet most
of the discussion in the local and national media certainly isn’t painting it as
such, and a lot of fans don’t buy it, either.

News of Michael Vick renegotiating his contract to stay in
Philadelphia has been treated as a forecast that he will be the Eagles’ starting
signal caller in 2013. Nick Foles is already an afterthought, saddled with the
narrative that Kelly and the front office are showing little-to-no confidence
in his ability to develop into their franchise quarterback.

Either assessment seems a bit of a leap, and unsubstantiated
at that.

Oh, Vick could very well be the starter next season. He has
a contract that will pay him between $7 and $10 million for one year – $3.5 of
which is guaranteed – and Kelly wouldn’t be the first coach to fall in love
with Vick’s capabilities ala Dan Reeves, Jim Mora Jr., and Andy Reid before him.
Plus there’s this idea that Vick is simply a better fit for Kelly’s “system”
because it is designed for a mobile quarterback.

None of which is the be-all, end-all. Vick can still wind up
an expensive backup or be relocated, Kelly can still break from the path his
predecessors went down, and the “system” can and will be adapted.

Vick is still here for two reasons really, and first and
foremost is because he needed the Eagles as much as if not more than the team
needed him. You actually have to hand it to the guy for restructuring. If Vick
is cut or traded, his career likely would be over within one year, two at most,
because where’s he going to go? Buffalo? Jacksonville? Wherever it is, it’s
likely going to be with some joke franchise, the end result of which would not
be pretty.

At least Philadelphia has a first-rate organization in terms
of resources. If the Eagles don’t rebound to put a competitive product on the
field within the next few seasons, it won’t be for a lack of investment in the
coaching staff, scouting department, or facilities. Staying put gives Vick the
best possible opportunity to extend his career, and he recognized that.

The second reason he is back is because Kelly and the front
office felt they could not acquire another quarterback with more talent or
upside this offseason. You didn’t think they would just hand the keys over to
Foles then wash their hands of the situation, did you?

Had the Eagles released Vick, they were still going to need
to sign or draft somebody who not only can play if pressed into action, but
push Foles as well – unless of course you felt they should just sink or swim,
then pick at the top of the draft again when it doesn’t work out. Clearly the
organization would like to at least compete though.

There were options besides Vick, but none of them good, something
Kelly himself admitted. “You also have to look at what the landscape is out
there for other quarterbacks,” said the head coach while explaining the
rationale behind restructuring Vick. Translation: the draft is lacking in quarterback
talent, at least in terms of guys who can come in and help our team right away,
and the best we can do in free agency is Dennis Dixon.

Given those options, why not keep Vick for one year at a
lower cost? For all his flaws, nobody ever denied he is insanely gifted – and
yes, he can even win a few games, too.

But we’re already seeing the question posed as, “Is there a
scenario in which Vick doesn’t have a better training camp than Foles?” As if
Vick has been such an all-world quarterback in 10 NFL seasons, a Nick Foles
could not possibly unseat him.

Absolutely there is a scenario where Foles wins. Vick can’t
simply out-talent him. If it’s an actual competition, Vick needs to actually
outplay the kid – something much farther from a given than many observers seem
to believe.

This is the part where we strictly speak in hypotheticals,
because it’s impossible to define exactly what Foles is after seven games,
especially given the state the offense was in by the time he took the reins.
However, we can project some of the things he was doing well against Vick’s
issues, which have gone largely unchanged since he came into the league.

If Foles can be the more accurate passer, if he demonstrates
greater awareness inside the pocket and makes faster decisions with the
football, he can win. Those are things he was already doing better than Vick
last season, behind the same patchwork offensive line, often without the luxury
of either LeSean McCoy or Desean Jackson in the lineup – sometimes both of them.

Accuracy, pocket presence, decision making – these are areas
Vick has never excelled, yet qualities that are important to any head coach
regardless of system or level of competition. Each one should be held in higher
regard than contract, talent, or athleticism.

Now just because we saw some things we really liked from
Foles in half a rookie season doesn’t mean they were all real, which takes us
back to having another quarterback in the mix. Likewise, he made enough
progress that certainly nobody should be writing him off, and let's not forget the fact that Howie Roseman was instrumental in the drafting of Foles. That third-round pick is a big investment to give up based on what the 24 year old showed last season.

There has always been this mystique about Vick because he was
a once-in-a-generation athlete, but he’s always been bested by conventional,
pocket passers in the NFL. Now for the first time in his life he has to go
head-to-head with one, and it doesn’t matter what kind of system it is, Vick
will actually have to outperform Foles to get on the field. Call me naive, but
I’m not entirely convinced that’s going to happen.

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Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

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Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

Phillies (26-23) at Cubs (33-14)
2:20 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies have lost back-to-back games to the MLB-best Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and on Sunday afternoon, they'll look to salvage a victory in the series finale.

Here are five things to get you ready for the ballgame:

1. Avoiding a sweep
Phillies fans had losing shoved down their throats for long stretches last season. This season has been much different … at least until the last three series.

With Saturday's loss, the Phils have lost three consecutive series for the first time in 2016 and will look to avoid their first sweep since their opening series in Cincinnati. The 4-1 victory by the Cubs was the Phillies' fourth loss in five games. They haven't lost five of six since September 2015. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won four straight games after losing eight of 12 games in mid-May. A win Sunday would give Chicago its fourth win streak of at least four games already in 2016. 

If that doesn't underline how tough a task the Phillies have ahead of them, Sunday's starter will do the trick.

2. Solving Lackey
John Lackey doesn't have the pizzazz of a Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester, but the veteran righty has been a consistent force in the Cubs' rotation. Coming over from the rival Cardinals in free agency, Lackey has a 4-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts in 2016.

However, the underlying numbers have been even better. He's completed six innings in all but one start and has seven quality starts. He has 61 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks and 45 hits in 61⅓ innings. 

Lackey has been a workhorse for the Cubs and has struck out at least five batters in each of his last four starts. 

The good news for Phillies fans? Despite Lackey's solid numbers, the Cubs have lost four of his nine starts.

3. Getting back on track
At 23 years old, it's tough to expect Vince Velasquez to be an ace all season, even if he may fill that role at some point in the not-so-distant future. 

So Velasquez's relatively minor struggles over his last few starts shouldn't worry fans as a sign of things to come. In Detroit, the flamethrowing righty could only complete four innings while giving up three home runs. While he struck out 10 and gave up no runs the start before against Miami, he failed to get past the fifth inning.

Those two starts came after consecutive outings where Velasquez gave up four runs in six innings. His last quality start came May 1, although it's tough to call his game against the Marlins anything but impressive.

While he's faced some strong lineups like the Mets and Nationals, the Cubs are a force Velasquez hasn't dealt with quite yet. He has no career numbers against the Cubs' probable starters, a group that has combined to be one of baseball's top offenses in 2016.

4. Who's on first?
Ryan Howard's final season in Philadelphia has been a grind to say the least. The veteran first baseman has just six hits in 58 at-bats in May and has just a .154 batting average this year. Howard's eight home runs have been a bright spot, but he doesn't have a homer since May 11.

Howard has three hits (two home runs) in 16 career at-bats against Lackey. But with right-handed first baseman Tommy Joseph excelling in his first big-league action, manager Pete Mackanin may turn to the rookie Sunday, as Howard tries to end his slump.

5. This and that
• Obubel Herrera is 3 for 4 in his only career appearances against Lackey. Maikel Franco is 2 for 3 against the righty.

• The Phillies are 3-0 in the final game of road trips this year … and 3-0 in the final game of homestands, too. 

• The Cubs have not swept the Phillies in Chicago since 1995.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.