By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, things seemed to be tailored-made for Nick Foles to make an argument to be the Eagles permanent starting quarterback.
After two solid performances over the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants, fans and a significant segment of the local media were convinced that it was Foles’ time to be the starting over Michael Vick, who missed Sunday’s game still nursing a sore hamstring.
Against Dallas, Foles had perhaps the worst game of his career. He was 11-of-29 for just 80 yards against the league’s 30th ranked defense. He was a sacked three times and had a quarterback rating of 46.2. Granted, the sacks came from an offensive line that struggled to block a Cowboys defense that was minus DeMarcus Ware. The receivers also dropped a few balls, too.
Foles also missed his share of open receivers. The biggest miss came early in the fourth quarter when he short-hopped a pass to a wide-open Jason Avant in the end zone. The ball bounced into the hands of Cowboys safety J.J.Wilcox for an apparent interception that was overturned by the replay officials because the ball touched the ground and was ruled incomplete.
The Birds 17-3 loss to the Cowboys tells me is that while I think Foles will eventually be a good quarterback in this league, Vick still gives this team the best chance to win in the here and now.
I say that mainly because Vick is a duel threat quarterback that makes defenses have to account for him because of his running ability. Vick’s scrambling ability gives him the chance to make plays downfield with his arm. In Kelly’s read-option offense, Vick’s mobility opens things up for LeSean McCoy in the running game.
McCoy, who rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries, faced a Cowboys defense that had focused its energy on making sure he didn’t gash them in the running game. It was a scheme that worked because McCoy averaged just three yards per carry. The way Dallas stifled McCoy, it looked like they took a page from what the Giants did in the second half at MetLife Stadium two weeks ago.
“Well we knew the first thing we wanted to do was shut (McCoy)down,” said Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee. “Then we wanted to get pressure on Foles and I thought we did combing both.”
I just think at the end of the day even when the Eagles offense is struggling, Vick’s penchant for running just to get something going as he did in the first half of the Giants game is an intangible that Foles doesn’t have just yet.
More importantly, I don’t think the starting quarterback should lose his job because of an injury. Up until the time he got hurt, Vick wasn’t struggling and for the most part was having a decent year. He had cut down on his turnovers and kept the Eagles in games when the defense was struggling.
Vick’s biggest challenge is his fragility, which is why he needed to take as much time as he needs to get through his hamstring issues and let it be completely healed without it being a lingering problem, especially for a guy who likes to use his feet.
I still think Foles is a good quarterback and I don’t think that Sunday’s game is an indictment of his skill-set. He had a bad game and he will no doubt get better.
For right now, the difference between the two is that Vick can be struggling during a course of game, but still has the ability to make plays with his mobility-whether it’s running for a first down or buy time to find an open receiver. I also believe that threat of Vick’s mobility opens things up for Eagles running backs.