By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—After watching weeks of 11-on-11 drills, the practice scrimmages against the New England Patriots and two preseason games, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly should just go ahead and name Michael Vick as his starting quarterback.
Although I thought Nick Foles did a really good job of running the Birds read-option, no-huddle offense in these first two preseason games, Vick has been that much better and it seems to be more suited to his skills.
“When he gets back there in that shotgun, you don’t know what he’s doing,” said running back LeSean McCoy. “His fakes can hold a guy enough where a guy like me can get up in the hole because the defensive end and the linebackers are pausing for a second not knowing what’s going on. They’re times when he drops back and Mike can throw the ball. The offense fits him.”
After the Eagles 14-9 win over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, Kelly made it clear that he has yet to make that decision just yet. For him, it’s a hard choice because both quarterbacks are playing well.
“I think we have two quarterbacks that can play in the NFL, so we’ll continue to look at it. But you feel better about the situation,” Kelly said. “We’re not going to make any rash decisions. You can put your pens down if you think we’re naming a starting quarterback in this room right now.”
In the two pre-season games against the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers, Vick has been nearly flawless in the passing game. He has completed 13-of-15 passes, 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In Thursday night’s game against Carolina, Vick completed his first nine passes and moved the Eagles offense on a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by McCoy.
During his time under center, Vick did a good job of reading the defense and getting the ball out quickly. If it wasn’t downfield, he did a good job of hitting the check down man underneath. On the touchdown drive, Vick’s check down man was McCoy who turned those plays into decent gains.
When you look at it in both practice and in the two pre-season games, Vick just looks like he’s a new man in this offense. I’ve not seen him this comfortable since 2010.
“I’m having fun playing football, I fell in love with the game again and very grateful,” Vick said. “You got to play this game with intense passion and purpose. I thank Coach Kelly for what he’s done for me. That’s the just giving me that confidence that I felt like I was losing at some point in my career. You just got to keep working hard to get the results you want.”
On that same second-quarter touchdown drive, Vick showed folks that he can still use his legs to buy time and to get first downs using his legs when there’s nothing there.
For example, on first and 10 from the Carolina 46, Vick was flushed out of the pocket by the Panthers pass-rush.
Moving to his left, Vick escaped and then hit a wide-open Riley Cooper at the Carolina 24.
Two plays later, Vick was flushed out of the pocket by the Carolina pass rush. Moving to his left, Vick found an opening and ran for an Eagles first down at the Panthers seven. A six-yard run by Vick put the ball at the one-yard to setup McCoy’s one-yard run.
Foles, who actually started the game, by no means disgraced himself. He played well, completing 6-of-8 passes for 53 yards with one interception and a rushing touchdown. He did a good job of maneuvering the Eagles no-huddle offense.
While he’s not as fast as Vick, Foles showed he can use his legs a little bit, scoring on a seven-yard run to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Though I suspect that’s something Kelly doesn’t want him to do.
If Vick wasn’t in this camp, Foles would easily win this job. If Vick goes down with an injury at some this season, I don’t think the offense would miss a beat with Foles behind center.
At this point, I just think Vick, with all his skills and his apparent mastery of Kelly’s offense, gives the Eagles the best chance to win.
“I think in this offense, (Vick) is looking good and he’s loving it,” McCoy said.