Michael Vick was 9 for 10 for 105 yards and an interception in the Eagles' 14-9 win over the Panthers. (USA Today)
Nick Foles hasn’t been bad at all this preseason. He’s been accurate, he’s made mainly smart decisions and he’s moved the offense fairly effectively.
It’s clear he can play in the NFL. It’s clear he’s a pro quarterback.
Just not now. Not here. Not yet.
We’ve seen enough. Michael Vick has earned the job.
Opening day is 25 days away, and it’s time for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly to put an end to the franchise’s first training camp quarterback battle in 16 years and name Vick the opening-day starter.
Before the preseason began, I wrote that Foles would win the Eagles’ quarterback competition because he’s a more decisive and accurate quarterback than Vick, and in Kelly’s offense those qualities trump all else (see story).
Vick then went out in these two preseason games and put on a precision passing clinic, demonstrating that he can not only grasp the fundamentals of Kelly’s offense but also operate it efficiently and productively while playing at a brisk tempo.
Let’s be honest. Vick picked this thing up and played brilliantly in his two preseason cameos, and he did it against a couple pretty good defenses.
Week 1, last Friday against the Patriots, he was 4 for 5 for 94 yards, including a highlight 47-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.
Week 2, Thursday night against the Panthers, he was 9 for 10 for 105 yards, with the only incompletion coming on a Hail Mary interception as the first half ended in the Eagles' 14-9 victory over the Panthers (see Instant Replay).
Not perfect but close to it.
More important than the numbers is just the way Vick has operated the offense. He’s been under control, patient, savvy. He hasn’t forced anything, hasn’t tried to free-lance outside the concept of the scheme when things have broken down, hasn’t tucked the ball down and scrambled at the first sign of trouble.
There was a play Thursday night that perfectly demonstrated how quickly Vick has picked this all up.
It was a first-and-10 late in the second quarter just inside midfield. The Panthers got a pretty good rush and flushed Vick out of the pocket. Defensive end Frank Alexander had a clean shot on Vick, but Vick stutter-stepped and side-stepped Alexander while rolling to his left.
But despite a sea of green in front of him, he didn’t tuck it down and take off. He kept his eyes down the field, set his feet and fired 22 yards to Riley Cooper for a big first down that set up a touchdown.
Foles has been pretty good. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 96 yards with one interception, one TD pass, one rushing TD and a lost fumble in these first two preseason games.
Vick has been better. Clearly.
Both QBs have gotten four full drives with the first offense so far, and Foles has yet to complete a pass longer than 15 yards. Vick has completions of 19, 22, 22 and 47 yards.
Why go through this competition another week, even another day, when it’s evident who’s better suited right now to lead the Eagles?
It’s time to get Vick every last rep with the first offense over these next few weeks and get him ready for the Redskins. Get him 2½ quarters in Jacksonville next Saturday. Get him all the snaps at practice.
The longer Kelly has Vick and Foles split reps with the first offense, the longer he’s putting off the inevitable. And the less time Vick will have to develop chemistry and rhythm with the receivers, backs and linemen he’ll be working with once the regular season begins.
When the whole Cooper drama unfolded last month, Vick seamlessly emerged as a team leader and spokesman. He wasn’t trying to be anything, he was just doing what came naturally: Being himself.
He’s done the same thing on the field these last few weeks. Just gone out there and made plays.
Forget last year. It was a terrible team with an awful offensive line, coaching staff turnover and a lame-duck head coach. Vick was surrounded by people who quit, and you can’t evaluate anybody in those conditions.
These last few weeks, both on the grass fields at the NovaCare Complex and under the lights at the Linc, Vick has shown that even at 33 years old, even going into his 11th season, he’s still a dangerous quarterback when healthy.
Foles has been a worthy adversary. He’s had a fine preseason, and he’s shown in the two preseason games he can get the ball in the end zone.
Foles is big, strong, smart and accurate. He almost always chooses the right place to go with the football, and he rarely misfires trying to get it there. He’s even shown he can run some read-option stuff and scramble effectively when he needs to.
But Vick is better. Right now, for this team, for this coach, for this offense, he’s just the better fit.
We can all see it now.