By Marc Farzetta
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Andy Reid finally agreed with what most fans said 22 games ago, Juan Castillo should not be the Eagles defensive coordinator. Now Reid has some more catching up to do with the fan base, he needs to bench Michael Vick and go with the rookie, Nick Foles. For the dwindling number those that may dismiss this idea quickly as a knee-jerk reaction after just six games, think again. This is the obvious conclusion after watching Vick’s last 24 games.
Sure, there was a time when Vick was enjoying that “accelerated level of play” as Andy Reid put it when he named Vick as his starter in 2010. Vick was mesmerizing back then. He had thrown 12 straight touchdown passes without an interception, the NFL’s best streak in 12 years and he helped the Eagles blow-out the Redskins on Monday Night Football, 59-28. All of this while leading the Eagles to a 5-0 record in games he started and finished.
So where did it all go wrong? When did the “acceleration of play” start to pump the breaks?
November 28th 2010, it was an overcast, windy 45 degree day in Chicago. The Eagles trailed the Bears 14-13 with two minutes remaining in the 1st half. Vick drove the Eagles to the Bears’ 4 yard-line completing a perfect 5 for 5 for 42 yards. Vick took the snap on a 2nd and goal and threw towards Jeremy Maclin in the endzone. As the ball spiraled toward its target, the Bears’ Chris Harris snatched the pass for an interception and the beginning of the end began. The Eagles went on to lose to the Bears, 31-26. Vick fumbled the football four times along with that pick, and as fate would have it, the Eagles finished the remaining six games of that season with a 3-3 record. They have been a 500 team ever since.
From that November afternoon in Chicago to Sunday’s overtime loss to the Lions, Vick has thrown 28 interceptions and fumbled the football 26 times, losing 11. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in that span only one quarterback has turned the ball over more than Vick, the Buffalo Bills’ Ryan Fitzpatrick. Vick has given the ball away 39 times to Fitzpatrick’s 45. Also, if you add Vick’s interceptions and total fumbles together, that means he has put the precious pigskin in peril 54 times in his last 24 games, the most out of any quarterback in the NFL.
Some of Michael Vick’s turnovers stem from a bigger problem, his mindset. Warren Sapp said it best as a guest on 94WIP in August, “Vick needs to take the cape off.” In other words, Vick doesn’t need to be Superman on this team. He simply needs to deliver the football to his solid supporting cast. This is not to say that Nick Foles is Tom Brady or even that he’ll have the type of immediate impact of another rookie, Robert Griffin III has had , but let’s face it, the Eagles don’t need a “great” quarterback under center to win a lot of games and make the playoffs. They just need a “good” quarterback.
The turnovers are the obvious problem with Vick in losses, but his wins are not all that impressive either.
True a “win is a win” as we have heard many times this season and teams lose games, not just quarterbacks, but wins in the regular season are suppose to prepare you for the postseason. Of course the Eagles are 0-1 with Vick in the playoffs, but what about how he’s fared against playoff teams? Looking back to Vick’s record since Nov. 28th 2010 and through all of 2011, he has faced just 4 teams that made the playoffs at the end of the season and he’s lost all four of those games. He’s also gone just 1-4 against teams that finished the season with a winning record.
It seems inevitable that Foles will be the starter by the end of the season as Andy Reid keeps saying, “As I stand here right now, Michael Vick’s our starter,” implying a change could be just a few snaps away. When will it happen? Why wait?
Not only should Andy Reid make the switch to Foles based on the preceding evidence, but he needs to if he wants to see the final year of his contract. If Reid can show that Foles has promise, Lurie will be more likely to grade on an even larger curve than he has already over the last 14 seasons.
There is the worry of starting a rookie behind this offensive line. An offensive line whose 17 sacks allowed are the 4th most in the NFL after six weeks. There are only 3 slightly comforting responses to this worry.
1) Foles has experience under pressure. At the University of Arizona, he was behind an offensive line that was widely regarded as one of the worst in the NCAA. He still finished his final college season in the top 10 in the Nation completing 69.1% of his passes, same as USC’s Matt Barkley. Foles also finished in the top 5 in the Nation in passing yards (4,334).
2) Foles played against first teamers in the preseason while Vick was injured. Of the 63 times he dropped back to pass, he only allowed himself to be sacked once.
3) He’s 6’6, 243lbs. A half-a-foot taller and 30lbs heavier than Vick. He’s a better build for a beatin’
Most fans are sick of the “insane” attitude of the Eagles where they insist on doing the same thing, but expect a different result. This season you have to give them credit. They have made changes that we are not used to seeing them make. They never cared for linebackers and they traded for DeMeco Ryans and spent a 2nd round pick on Mychal Kendricks. Castillo wasn’t working out, they fired him in-season, a first in the Reid era. Now it is time for Reid to continue the trend of 2012. Make the proper changes. Sit Vick or keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
Marc Farzetta is a host and anchor for 94WIP. Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcFarzetta