By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—When Michael Vick limped off the field with a pulled hamstring late in the first half of Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, you knew it was coming.
With Vick possibly out for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we now have a “quarterback controversy”—at least in the eyes of those of us who cover the team.
The former Virginia Tech star did participate in individual drills at Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice, so there is a possibility that he may start. He said he’s taking it a day at a time.
“I feel a lot better than I did on Sunday,” Vick said. “It was kind of agonizing. It was tough to deal with. I’m glad I’m where I’m at today.”
But because backup quarterback Nick Foles came off the bench and tossed a couple of touchdown passes to defeat the hapless Giants, there are some who think he should be named the permanent Eagles’ starter. He was 16-of-25 for 197 yards and to be fair, it was a great relief performance.
During his day-after game press conference, Eagles coach Chip Kelly was asked what Foles could do to keep the starting job. To his credit, Kelly answered the question in the manner in which it deserved.
“Yeah, there’s always open competition. So if Nick goes out there and throw 100-for-100 and throws 27 touchdown passes, then yeah,” Kelly said.
One thing that makes Philadelphia unique to other football towns is that it’s the only place where pulling a hamstring should cost you your starting job. At least to the group that refers to itself as “the nation’s smartest sports fans.”
Now granted, the rest of the country hears this and thinks that the notion of a pulled hamstring costing you your starting job is just absurd, but this is the prevailing narrative, especially among a Delaware Valley media that appeared at times to be openly cheering third-string QB Matt Barkley as a starter over Vick.
Some observers have said the Eagles might as well bench Vick because he’s going get hurt anyway.
Yeah. Right. Okay…
When asked about the possibility that Foles could take his job, Vick responded with as much as class as he could, considering he’s probably tired of this crap.
“I can’t worry about that. I hope Nick plays well,” Vick said. “That’s my teammate. He’s a great friend of mine, somebody that I root for whether it’s now or down the road. I just got to take it one day at a time and enjoy football everyday.”
For me, the real issue here is that in the eyes of the Philadelphia media anything short of 27 touchdown passes in a game while avoiding any injury…including the common cold…is the only way for Vick to remain the Eagles signal caller. Folks call for Vick to be replaced anytime he finds himself sidelined with an injury or has an average day throwing the ball.
Granted, some of this is Vick’s own making. His history of injuries and his tendency to not take care of the football certainly gives his critics plenty of fodder.
But in the eyes of a mostly white Philly media, Vick is pretty much on double secret probation—which means he can ill afford any slip ups no matter how minor.
If he gets sacked three or four times, it’s Vick’s fault because he didn’t make his pre-snap reads even if his rookie left tackle or veteran right guard misses a block.
When his receivers drop a pass or they don’t get separation from the defense, he’s holding the ball too long.
When Vick runs out of the pocket for big yardage and gets a first down to keep a drive going, it’s because he didn’t go through all his progressions and it’s also because of that time-honored stereotype of Black quarterbacks not being able to read defenses.
Ever since Vick won the starting job over Foles back in training camp, it seems like folks have been trying to find a reason, any reason to say that Vick should ultimately lose the job.
Whether it was a lackluster performance during the third game of the preseason or the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs where the offensive line couldn’t block anybody, it becomes a reason why he shouldn’t be the starter.
When you look at Vick’s season so far, he hasn’t played badly. He hasn’t turned the ball over as much as he did at this time last season. In the Giants game, Vick had his worst passing game of the season, going 6-of-14 for 105 yards.
But at the same time, it was Vick’s mobility that helped the Eagles take a 16-7 late in the second quarter. He gained 79 yards on seven carries. But once he got hurt, the talk of a “quarterback controversy” began.
Whenever Vick heals from this hamstring injury, he’s going to have complete damn near every pass, throw five touchdown passes a game and not get as much as a hang nail or a runny nose.
Because no matter what else is going on, Vick still has to be twice as good.