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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Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).