Eagles coach Andy Reid endorsing Michael Vick - right now

Posted: September 25, 2012

The Eagles are not on the verge of a quarterback change, but Andy Reid's endorsement of Michael Vick on the day after Sunday's 27-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the coach's softest to date.

Vick fumbled twice against the Cardinals, and he's been responsible for nine of the Eagles' 12 turnovers. Reid was asked Monday when, or if, he would consider a quarterback change if Vick's turnovers continue.

"Right now, we're with Michael," Reid said. "That's what we're doing. We'll evaluate it as we go."

The statement was ostensibly an endorsement of Vick, although Reid's qualifying it with "right now" and adding the ongoing evaluation raised eyebrows about how much longer the mistakes of the Eagles' $100 million quarterback will be tolerated.

Later, on his weekly radio show, Reid backed off his earlier statement. He explained that the question had come at the end of a news conference, and he emphasized his confidence in Vick.

"Michael's our quarterback, period," he said. "Does he need to get better? Do we all need to get better? Yes. . . . That's what we're going to work on starting Wednesday."

Vick is a four-time Pro Bowler and has led the Eagles to comeback victories in two of three games this season. But after the way Nick Foles played in the preseason, there's at least reason to wonder whether the 23-year-old Foles would be a conceivable option for the Eagles if Vick were benched. Asked whether Foles would receive first-team snaps, Reid said, "No."

The team's concern is finding ways to help Vick, because at this rate, Foles' entry in the lineup could come sooner because of Vick's health than his performance. Vick was sacked five times and endured 13 hits Sunday.

The Eagles' battered offensive line struggled against Arizona's pass rush. Reid said left tackle Demetress Bell will remain the starter on Sunday against the New York Giants if King Dunlap continues to sit with a hamstring injury. Reid also said he has not yet considered replacing Dallas Reynolds with veteran Steve Vallos at center in place of the injured Jason Kelce.

Neither Bell nor Reynolds appeared to have strong outings in their first starts with the Eagles, although Reid believed that Reynolds improved after the first two drives. The Eagles will analyze the entire process of offensive passing plays, Reid said, from the protection to the wide receiver's routes to whether Vick is holding the ball too long.

"We've kept a decent mixture there of moving the pocket," Reid said. "We've kept a decent mixture with six-man protections and chip in and so on, but we've got to make sure that we eliminate some of these hits on him, for sure."

LeSean McCoy, a Pro Bowler who signed a $45 million contract extension in May, received only four first-half carries. The Eagles had five handoffs by halftime and 19 passing attempts, not including the three times Vick was sacked and three Vick scrambles. For the game, McCoy had 13 carries; Vick attempted 37 passes.

Reid said the Eagles thought they could take advantage of Arizona's defense downfield. That belief hinged on stout protection, which the Eagles didn't have, and big plays downfield, which they didn't create. Since they were without their full stable of offensive linemen and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was sidelined, it is understandable why Reid's idea of how the offense could ideally exploit Arizona did not come to fruition. So Vick was hit, McCoy had little role, and the offense never found a rhythm.

"When you go in, you want to try to establish some form of rhythm that we never established," Reid said. "Whether that's a short passing game, we have a wide variety of things we can use. But along with the run game, we need to make sure that our mix is better than what it was yesterday, and that's my responsibility to make sure that happens. I didn't think I did a very good job with that."

The Eagles' forthcoming schedule includes teams that likely will blitz until the Eagles prove they can stop it. The Giants have some of the NFL's top pass rushers. The Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Eagles play in Week 5, are known for pressuring the quarterback.

"You've got to answer that, right?" Reid said. "You figure the next team will try it until you answer it. Then, once you answer it, then it will be put on hold."

Whether they can answer opposing blitzes also could answer some of the biggest questions surrounding the Eagles - starting with how much longer Vick will be the franchise quarterback.

Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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