By Kevin McGuire
The support Andy Reid has for quarterback Mike Vick has been up and down like a yo-yo this week. After this weekend’s upcoming match-up with the New York Giants, will that yo-yo being moving up or down?
Vick is coming off one of his worst performances since joining the Eagles after going 17-for-37 and losing two fumbles against the Arizona Cardinals. After three games, Vick has thrown just three touchdown passes and has been intercepted six times. Reid, though, must accept some of the blame for Vick’s struggles early on this season. The play calling has been highly suspect for a quarterback who missed the large majority of the preseason and may still be trying to get caught up to speed for regular season play. Injuries on the offensive line have not been kind to Vick either, and an inability to run the football early on in games fails to set up a defense for a dependable pass attack.
“Well, you’ve got to be able to run the football,” Reid acknowledged Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter whether the quarterback’s hot or not hot. We’ve got to be able to do that in this league.
“You’re seeing it with some of the good throwing teams in this league. Balance, you’ve got to have some sort of balance, whether that’s 60-40, 70-30. You’ve got to be able to, obviously, keep defenses off balance and, at the same time, get yourself in a rhythm as an offense.”
Of course, at this point in their respective careers, can anybody really expect Vick or Reid to change their feathers? Probably not, but this week against the New York Giants offers both a chance for some redemption and if history is any indication the confidence for both could be rising Sunday night.
Vick is 5-2 all-time against the Giants and against all NFL teams he has faced at least five times, Vick’s 60.7 completion percentage against the Giants is his second highest in his career. Vick has passed for five career touchdowns and rushed for four more against the Giants. Is there something about the Giants that brings out the best in Vick or is it merely a coincidence?
What about Reid’s success against the Giants? After losing his first five games against New York in his career–including three losses in the 2000 season capped with a tough loss in the NFC Divisional Playoffs–Reid has coached the Eagles to a 16-8 record against the Giants, winning seven of the last eight meetings against a team that has won two Super Bowls in nearly that same span.
This week, the Eagles will need to be prepared for a Giants’ defense that is rested and coming off a dominant showing against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Giants have just five sacks this season, two of which came last week, but the defense has shown they will take advantage of a mistake if Vick gives it to them. The Giants recorded three interceptions and recovered two fumbles last Thursday night. With the Eagles turning the football over three times last week at Arizona and a league-leading 12 times this season, protecting the football will most certainly be the key for Philadelphia to avoid dropping to 2-2 this weekend. For Reid, that starts on the offensive line.
“They play as a unit,” Reid said. “They all can get better. We all can get better, as coaches schematically and as players playing. So, we all understand that.”
As for the Giants, Vick knows what kind of challenge New York’s defense will present to he and his offense.
“They do some good things on the defensive front,” Vick said. “They have some veteran guys who (have) been around the block. They have Super Bowl rings so they know what it’s like to play in the tough games. We just have to come out and play sound (and) play disciplined and try to put it all together.”
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Kevin McGuire covers college football for Examiner.com and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB). His work can be found on Examiner.com.