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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Andy Reid made sure he got the point across Wednesday that Michael Vick is his starting quarterback. Reid made a comment during his Monday day-after press conference on whether he might consider a change at quarterback if the turnovers continue: “Right now we’re with Michael and that’s what we’re doing. We’ll evaluate as we go.”
That comment grew legs and a life of its own, interpreted by some media to imply that Reid might consider changing quarterbacks if the turnovers persist. The Eagles have turned the ball over 12 times in three games, and Vick is responsible for nine (six interceptions and three fumbles).
“It’s the way it was interpreted and that’s not what I had in mind,” Reid said. “[Eagles director of football media services] Derek [Boyko] explained to me how it was interpreted and so, I’ve talked to Mike, and I made sure I mentioned it on my radio show and clarified it. Bad semantics there. Michael is our starting quarterback. He didn’t worry about [the comments] and they weren’t directed that way, and he knows that.”
The Eagles are minus-6 and near the bottom of the NFL in takeaway/giveaway ratio.
“That’s something we have to fix, not all of those are Mike’s fault, and I take credit for one of those, because it bounced off my hands, but those are things we can all fix,” said Eagles’ tight end Brent Celek, the team’s leading receiver after three games with 14 catches for 258 yards and 18.4 yards/per catch average.
“We need to work a little bit harder and pay attention to the small details. Those are things we can clean up.”
Running a balanced attack could be a key against the Giants.
“We had success running the ball late last week, but it’s something we have to get started earlier, they really took us out early in that game,” Celek said. “Both the pass and run open up each other. If we run the ball, it opens up the pass. If we can pass the ball, it opens up the run. So we have to do them both well. We’re always behind Mike 100-percent. It’s a team game. It’s not just one thing that he’s doing out there that’s making us lose a game. It’s obvious if you watch the film, it’s not just Mike.”
Injury update: Safety Colt Anderson (knee), left offensive tackle King Dunlap (hamstring), linebacker Akeem Jordan (hamstring) and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos (high ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did practice. If Jordan can’t go, either Brian Rolle or Jamar Chaney would get the start in place of Jordan, and Demetress Bell would spell Dunlap again this week at left tackle.
Reid also stated that Riley Cooper practiced on Wednesday. “He’s close [to playing], he’s going to practice today and we’ll see how he does,” Reid said. “He’s getting there. He hasn’t had much contact, in fact, very little contact.”
Kyle Nelson would fill in for Dorenbos if he’s unable to play Sunday night against the Giants. “I can tell yesterday he was limping, and today’s he’s not,” Reid said about Dorenbos. “We’ll see what he does tomorrow. He has to be functional to step on the field. He has to be able to move. Kyle we can use him and Celek’s done it, we can use him there.”
Arizona Fallout. Did the Cardinals create the template on A-gap blitzes in how to beat down the high-powered Eagles’ offense in the 27-6 drubbing they took on Sunday?
Many players spoke afterwards about not being on the same page with one another. “If that’s the case, let’s take care of it in practice and make sure those things are okay,” Reid said.
Celek put it on the players, explaining, “I just think it was the fact that we didn’t execute. We didn’t play that well. They played well, you have to give them credit. But there are a lot of things we can improve. It’s not like we’re going to crawl into a hole and say, ‘People have figured us out.’ That’s not the case at all. I think it comes down to the fact that they were able to execute better than we did.”
Celek was asked to stay in and block more against the blitz packages Arizona showed on Sunday. He may be asked to do the same against the vaunted pass rush of the Giants and their front four.
“Not necessarily, it depends and what they’ll bring at us defensively,” Celek said. “There might be times when I do stay in and there might be times that I don’t. We really don’t know. We prepared for anything.
“We have to do a better job protecting [Vick]. He has to do a better job of protecting himself. I mean, we all have a hand in that. It’s not just Mike, it’s not just the o-line, it’s everybody involved in that. We all have to do a better job so he won’t be on his back as much.”
Numbers crunching: The Eagles are 6-1 in their last seven games against the New York Giants. Andy Reid has a winning record against the Giants, holding a 16-13 overall edge, while Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin is 9-11 against the Eagles.
The last time the Giants visited Lincoln Financial Field they came away with a 29-16 victory, paced by Eli Manning’s 254 yards passing and four touchdowns, including 74- and 28-yard TD strikes to then-rising star Victor Cruz. Manning this season is 78-for-118, 1,011 yards and a 97.1 rating. Michael Vick is 69-125, for 905 yards and a 66.3 rating, throwing for three touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Eagles are minus-six in takeaway/giveaway and the Giants are a plus-four, which is tied for third in the NFL. The Eagles are tied with the Carolina Panthers for last in the NFC in takeaway/giveaway (-6), and two better than the Kansas City Chiefs (-8), NFL’s worst in takeaway/giveaway.
The last time the two teams met was on November 20, 2011, when Vince Young transformed into a passing genius, throwing for two touchdowns including the game-winning score to Riley Cooper. The Eagles held the Giants to 29 yards rushing. The setback was the Giants’ second loss in what was a four-game losing streak.
Magic McCoy—and his home TD streak: Want to see some heat taken off of Michael Vick? How about running LeSean McCoy more? He’s had great success against the Giants the last three times they visited Lincoln Financial Field. Over that span, McCoy was rushed for 321 yards (107 yards/per game) and three touchdowns. He’s going for his ninth-straight game where he’s scored a touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field.
He’s rushed for 11 touchdowns (10 rushing, one receiving) in his last eight games at home, including playoffs.
Vicious Victor Cruz: If there is someone the Eagles need to stop it’s the salsa-shaking Giants’ receiver who’s stung them for nine catches and 238 yards (averaging 119/per game, 26.4 average) and three touchdowns in two games against the Eagles.
It could be a fun matchup, the classic game-within-game when the Eagles place Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the speedy undrafted receiver out of Massachusetts.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.