Would Eagles Proceed with Vick Beyond 2010?

Would Eagles Proceed with Vick Beyond 2010?

Some weeks there just isn't much to say about the game. The Eagles dominated a listless Jaguars squad in every phase of the game on Sunday. The defense limited Jacksonville's only legitimate weapon, allowing the front four to tee off on the quarterback, while Michael Vick played mistake-free football, only taking the big plays that were there to be made. The result was never in doubt.

We're not going to learn a whole lot about the Eagles from dissecting this one. The fact is they should have won with ease, and did. Vick is supposed perform against defenses that don't have the personnel to cover his array of weapons, much less pin him down. This week will serve as a better example of his progress as an NFL quarterback.

Until then, let's humor the Vick crowd.

Michael Vick just played, in my opinion, his best game of the season so far. His completion percentage wasn't as high this week as the previous two, which might be a warning he will regress closer to his career average in that department. However, he seemed much more decisive with the football. He got rid of the rock faster, and he was willing to turn it loose down the field when the match-ups dictated he take a shot. There were no turnovers, nor was he ever really in danger of coughing it up.

Again, this is the Jaguars we're talking about, so we probably shouldn't get too excited. Still, with the exception of a handful of harmless incompletions, Vick appeared to have come a long way as a passer in a relatively short timespan. If this trend continues—a big if—how does that impact the state of the Eagles' quarterback situation for the future?

It may seem like a stupid question, but even if Vick sustains a Pro Bowl level of production throughout the course of the season, there is an inherent risk in giving him a long term contract. For starters, the man remains on probation. As we witnessed during the off-season after a shooting took place at his birthday party, even the slightest involvement by Vick in criminal activity will prompt an investigation, and could easily land him back in prison, or at least suspended by the league.

Had his role in a despicable dog fighting ring been the extent of the quarterback's wrong-doing through the years, this might not be as much of a cause for concern. Unfortunately, Vick has turned up on the wrong side of the law with some frequency. There's no reason to draft a list in this space, but those incidents, although in the past and many of them alleged, can't be treated as irrelevant or like they never happened at all.

Do I believe Michael Vick is a changed man? That's not really important. The reality of his situation is it only takes one miscue before he has everything taken back: one drink too many before getting behind the wheel of a car; one joint or dime bag left lying around; one physical altercation. These are not a stretch for any professional athlete, much less Vick. The difference is he might not get another second chance.

What's the back-up plan then?

The Eagles are walking a thin line with Vick. Kevin Kolb was either going to be a good NFL quarterback, or he wasn't, and the front office would simply move forward as everything unfolded.

If Vick continues to shred opposing defenses the way he did in Detroit and Jacksonville, can the Eagles make a commitment to an athlete with a sordid past at one of the most important positions in professional sports?

Conventional wisdom seems to scream, "No," but I think we may be way beyond that.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.