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 MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

Best of MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor pushed an RBI single through Washington's drawn-in infield with one out in the ninth inning, and the Cleveland Indians rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to stun the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Tuesday night in a matchup of two first-place teams with sights on October.

Down two runs and three outs from their losing streak reaching a season-high four games, the Indians rallied against Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4), who did not get an out before he was pulled by manager Dusty Baker.

With the bases loaded, Lindor fisted his base hit into right field and danced his way up the first-base line as the Indians celebrated an improbable victory.

Bryan Shaw (2-4) got two outs in the ninth and picked up the win as Cleveland won its first home game since July 10 (see full recap).

Cardinals take first game of doubleheader with Mets, 3-2
NEW YORK -- Jedd Gyorko homered again, hitting a two-run drive off Noah Syndergaard that sent the St. Louis Cardinals over the New York Mets 3-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Gyorko connected for the sixth time in eight games, giving him 13 this season. The Cardinals lead the NL in home runs with 137, matching last year's total.

The Mets played at home for the first time since the All-Star break and lost in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. Citi Field was nearly empty at the start, a day after a rainout forced the twinbill.

Carlos Martinez (10-6) gave up a two-run homer to Rene Rivera and left after the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead. Three relievers finished, with Seung Hwan Oh getting his fifth save in six chances.

Syndergaard (9-5) has won only one of his last five starts (see full recap).

Colon, Mets top Cards, 3-1, for doubleheader split
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon pitched three-hit ball for seven sharp innings and the New York Mets overcame another home run by Jedd Gyorko to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 Tuesday night for a doubleheader split.

Gyorko homered in both ends and has connected seven times in nine games. His two-run shot helped St. Louis win the opener 3-2.

Colon (9-5) struck out eight and walked none. After Gyorko homered in the second and Alberto Rosario doubled in the third, Colon set down 14 of his final 15 batters.

Addison Reed worked the eighth and Jeurys Familia closed for his 36th save this year and 52nd in a row during the regular season.

White Sox avoid Chapman, down Cubs 3-0 behind Shields
CHICAGO -- James Shields allowed four singles in 7 2/3 innings, Adam Eaton homered and the White Sox stayed unbeaten since Chris Sale's suspension by beating the Cubs 3-0 Tuesday night in Chicago's crosstown rivalry.

The Cubs lost their second straight and never got to use new closer Aroldis Chapman hours after he joined the team and struggled answering questions related to an altercation last year with his girlfriend.

Shields (5-12) struck out five and continued an impressive turnaround from a terrible first three starts after being acquired from San Diego last month. Nate Jones finished the eighth and David Robertson worked the ninth for his 24th save in the White Sox's fourth straight win since their ace was sent home for destroying throwback jerseys.

Jose Abreu had two hits, including an RBI single in the first off Kyle Hendricks (9-7) that ended his streak of 22 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run (see full story).

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — The Phillies enjoyed a three-week stretch before the All-Star break when they were the best hitting team in baseball.

In the final 19 games before the break, they hit .308 with a .871 OPS. Both marks were tops in the majors over that span. They averaged 5.63 runs per game in that stretch.

The run of sturdy offense created some excitement and anticipation heading into the second half of the season. But that excitement and anticipation has now dissipated. Since coming back from the break, the Phillies’ offense has retreated back to invisibility.

The Phils were blanked, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night, wasting a terrific start from Jerad Eickhoff (see Instant Replay).

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin was peeved.

“The only thing positive I can say about this game is Eickhoff,” Mackanin said. “He was outstanding. He had a great curveball, hit his spots, pitched well. It was a pitchers' duel up until the end. I’m real happy about that. 

"But that’s about all I’m happy about.”

Marlins starter Tom Koehler and a trio of relievers held the Phillies to just four singles.

Phillies hitters struck out 10 times. They have averaged 9.5 strikeouts in 12 games since coming back from the break and hit just .208. They are averaging just 2.75 runs in the 12 games since the break and carrying a 4-8 record.

“Poor plate discipline,” Mackanin said. “Poor plate discipline. Swinging at too many bad pitches. We get ourselves out too often. That’s about all I can think of.

“Koehler pitched well. But we helped him out a lot. We didn’t give him a chance to walk us. We swung at too many bad pitches. That’s our problem. We just get ourselves out too often. That’s what it boils down to.

“If you’re a free swinger who’s going to hit 30-plus home runs and drive in 100 runs, that’s acceptable to me. But if you’re not a power hitter, it’s unacceptable. You’ve got to make adjustments. You’ve got improve on it. You’ve got to work on it.”

Peter Bourjos offered his thoughts on the Phillies’ offensive struggles since the All-Star break.

“It's almost like it was probably bad timing for that break,” he said. “Everything was rolling. We were swinging the bats really well. Everyone looked comfortable in the box and feeling good and it's tough right now. You can see what there was with the offense. I think it's going to come back. We just need to get back into the rhythm that we had and everything's going to be all right.”

Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight, a big improvement over his previous start when these same Marlins tagged him for nine hits and six runs in five innings.

“I was more aggressive,” Eickhoff said. “It’s amazing what being aggressive will do for your game and how hitters will react. I threw my fastball inside and that set up my curveball so much more.”

The poor run support was nothing new for Eickhoff. He entered the game receiving an average of just 3.53 runs per game, 10th worst in the majors.

It was a scoreless game until there were two outs in the sixth. That’s when Giancarlo Stanton swatted a two-out RBI single to right, scoring Martin Prado from second. Stanton’s hit rolled untouched through the second base area because the Phillies’ defense was shifted to the pull side.

“We’ve got to play a shift on him,” Mackanin said of baseball's most fearsome power bat.

The game got out of hand when the bullpen was tagged for four runs in the eighth. Ichiro Suzuki stroked career hit No. 2,997 to get the Marlins’ late rally started.

In the first inning, Suzuki launched a long drive to the gap in right-center. Rightfielder Bourjos ran the ball down and made a terrific catch while crashing into the wall. He left the game with a jammed right shoulder and could miss some time (see story).

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jerad Eickhoff pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but still came away with a loss as the Phillies were shut out, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton drove in the Marlins’ first two runs with a single and a double.

Stanton gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with a two-out base hit to right field against Eickhoff in the sixth inning. Stanton’s groundball hit rolled through the second base area, which had been vacated by the shift.

The Marlins blew the game open with four runs against the Phillies’ bullpen in the eighth.

The Phillies are 4-8 since the All-Star break and 46-56 overall.

Starting pithing report
Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Miami manager Don Mattingly pulled Tom Koehler after the right-hander pitched six shutout innings and had allowed just three hits. Koehler walked one, struck out five and threw just 73 pitches. He exited with a 1-0 lead.

Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in a win over the Phillies last week.

Bullpen report 
Andrew Bailey was charged with three runs in the eighth.

Mike Dunn, David Phelps and Nick Wittgren completed the shutout for the Marlins. 

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits, all singles, and struck out 10 times. They were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 13 the last two nights.

Stanton had been just 3 for 35 against the Phils this season before his shift-beating RBI hit in the sixth. He hit the ball much harder in the eighth inning when he clouted an RBI double to right-center against Bailey.

Adeiny Hechavarria padded the Marlins’ lead with a two-run single in their four-run eighth inning.

Ichiro Suzuki’s eighth-inning single left him three hits shy of 3,000 in his big-league career.

Health check
Rightfielder Peter Bourjos injured his right shoulder making a catch against the wall in the first inning and left the game (see story).

Minor matters
Ranger Suarez, a 20-year-old left-hander from Venezuela, pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for the Phillies’ Single A Williamsport club on Tuesday night.

Up next
The series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) pitches against Miami lefty Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58).