Is leadership an issue in the locker room?
Michael Vick did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and completed just 14 of 27 passes but did succeed in not turning over the football on Sunday. (AP)
DENVER -- Someone from the inside needs to take command of the sinking ship that’s becoming Chip Kelly’s first season as Eagles head coach. Someone needs to take the wheel and stop the season from finding the cemetery before Halloween.
Someone needs to make sure 2013 isn’t a repeat of 2012 and 2011.
Mike Vick knows exactly who that someone is. He knows it has to be him.
He needs to play better, but he also needs to lead better, and after Sunday’s 52-20 loss to the Broncos that marked the Eagles’ third straight loss (see Instant Replay), Vick said 52 players have their eyes on him every day.
He was reminded of this last week by head coach Chip Kelly, after the quarterback needed a little pick-me-up following Thursday’s 26-16 loss to Kansas City.
“We just had a conversation that got me going,” Vick said. “He just told me I’m the catalyst for everything, and guys feed off me. Sometimes, I forget about that. But at the same time, I understand that I’ve got to be a leader that God put me on the Earth to be.”
Vick will get that chance. Kelly said he’s sticking with Vick, even though Vick didn’t throw a touchdown for the first time this season, even though the offense has regressed in each of the past two games.
Kelly went to backup Nick Foles for mop-up duty in the fourth quarter after the unbeaten Broncos (4-0) had put a mile’s worth of scoreboard distance between themselves and the Eagles (1-3), but he insisted that he’s not considering any quarterback changes.
“Not at all,” he said twice.
Kelly said Vick “played well” and pinned most of the offensive breakdowns on protection. Even though he didn’t throw for a touchdown, Vick completed 52 percent of his passes, avoided turning the ball over and kept plays alive by rushing for 41 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense.
“I thought he threw the ball very accurately,” Kelly said. “I do know this -- I know we’ve got to get it addressed -- we’ve got to protect him better. We’ve got times when he’s on top of his drop and sticking his foot in the ground and there’s pressure on him, and that’s not on Mike. I thought he put the ball in real good places. I thought he kept the ball going with his legs, and I thought Mike played very well.”
Part of asserting better leadership, Vick said, is making sure other veterans and leaders do the same.
This is a big week of practice for the Eagles, with a matchup against the winless Giants coming up Sunday at MetLife Stadium, followed by another road trip against the lackluster Buccaneers in Tampa.
The Eagles can reroute the ship quickly. Vick will be watching and observing the attitudes of his teammates Tuesday when they reconvene for practice at the NovaCare Complex.
“Coach Kelly just addressed it to the team,” Vick said. “I feel like there are a lot of guys on this team that should be stepping up as leaders right now, and that’s part of their responsibility. I’m going to keep a watchful eye on those guys and see who steps up, who’s staying optimistic, who’s still believing in the man next to him. Because that’s what it’s going to take. If we don’t have that, we don’t have anything.”
Asked if he felt locker room leaders aren’t doing their jobs, Vick clarified to say that everyone needs to come back re-energized and focused on the Giants, starting with the starting quarterback.
“I’m not saying guys have to step up. It’s still early in the season,” he said. “But I could tell we [were] all dragging, including myself. I’ll be the first to admit. Coach Kelly pulled me aside and got me going and that changed my whole mindset.
“Guys will bounce back. We understand what’s ahead of us. We’ve already been talking about it. I’m looking for the leaders to step up though.”