Stop Blaming Michael Vick: Benching Him Would be a Mistake

30 Oct

Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb tells NFL Network  Birds should consider benching  the defense and the  offensive line

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Commentary

Michael Vick’s days as the Eagles starting quarterback might be numbered if they can’t turn things around.  Is Nick Foles ready? Photo by Webster Riddick

If the reports that have been circulating around on several websites are true that  Eagles head coach Andy Reid is about to bench quarterback Michael Vick in favor of untested rookie Nick Foles, you might has well consider the 2012 season over.

The benching of Vick would also be a sure sign that Reid is in lame duck mode which means the clock is ticking on his tenure in Philadelphia. It is nothing but a desperation move on the part of a coach who’s looking to cover his own rear end.

It’s nothing more than a public relations spin move to let angry Birds fans that he’s on top of what ails the Eagles—sort of like the firing of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. On Sunday, you saw how well that worked out as the defense gave up scores on Atlanta’s first six possessions. Vick did not turn the ball over, but his offense wasn’t on the field that often.

Don’t get it twisted, Vick has had his issues with turning the ball over, but it’s not all his fault given the number of times he’s been hit because of a porous offensive line that is starting two rookies and a third string left tackle  He has been sacked 20 times in seven games.

Even in the games where Vick has coughed up the football, he has managed to win three games and if the defense could have made a stop in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh and against the Detroit Lions on at least one of their last three possessions, we are not having this conversation because Vick put them in position to win those games.

“If the defense of the Eagles were playing better, we wouldn’t be talking about Michael Vick so much, we’d be talking about what the Eagles can do to turn things around,” said former Eagles quarterback and NFL Network analyst Donovan McNabb.

McNabb, who knows a thing or two about being the brunt of criticism in Philly, told the NFL Network Tuesday instead of focusing on benching Vick, the team should look to bench some of the guys on defense.

“What if the offense goes out and scores 24 points, but the defense gives up 42 points, do we  talk about benching (Vick) and talk about Foles again?,” McNabb said. “Or do we start mentioning some of the defensive guys who need to be benched? Or do we say the offensive line needs to be benched? They’re other people in this situation besides Michael Vick.”

At the end of the day, all the Eagles struggles points back to Reid.  He, along with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, has not helped the offense with their playcalling. They under utilize their talented running back LeSean McCoy.

But then again this is nothing new during Reid’s tenure as coach of the team. During the McNabb years, Reid’s stubborn, oft-times arrogant refusal to give the running game a stronger role in the offense has been a thorn in this team’s side over the last 14 years.

In the first quarter of the loss to the Steelers, Vick drove the Eagles offense to the Steelers three-yard line. Earlier in the drive, Vick fumbled while running the ball, but the play was overturned by the replay officials.

But instead of utilizing McCoy or even backup Bryce Brown on a first and goal from the three, you allow your turnover-prone quarterback who came close to fumbling a few plays earlier to try an ill-fated quarterback draw. The ball was jarred loose and the headlines the next day in Philly said Vick’s fumble cost them game.

After further review, it was also another example of bad play-calling by Reid and Mornhinweg. Vick, as the starting quarterback, took responsibility for his own miscues.

Like a pitcher who has a couple of bad innings, Vick kept firing and eventually threw the touchdown pass that gave his team the lead with six minutes left. If the defense makes a stop late in the game that first-quarter fumble is a moot point.

When Vick walked off the field after hitting Jeremy Maclin with the TD pass in the fourth quarter against the Lions, the Birds had a 10-point lead with a little over five minutes left. But that became a moot point as the defense allowed Detroit to score on their final three possessions including overtime.

With the poor performance by the defense and the erratic play of his injury-depleted offensive line, Vick has not thrown anyone under the bus or yell at his teammates like Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler did earlier this season. When the subject of his benching came up during Sunday’s postgame press conference, he didn’t get angry and point fingers at his coach or his teammates,  he said he would support his coach’s decision.

Through all his horrific mistakes, Vick has had the heart to fight through them and give his team a fighting chance to win, something they won’t have if he is replaced by Foles.

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