In the first half, as the Eagles fell almost irreparably behind, Vick failed to get the offense moving against the lowest-rated defense in the NFL. As has been the case all season, there were some reasons for that having nothing to do with Vick.
The offensive line, which has been unable to protect the quarterback, allowed him to get smacked around again. When right tackle Todd Herremans left the game with an ankle injury in the first half, Vick had Demetress Bell and King Dunlap as his starting tackles. Not an ideal situation.
Vick also suffered some bad luck on the signature play of the opening half when a ball tipped off the hand of tight end Brent Celek and was intercepted by Patrick Robinson, who returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. Vick's pass was on target - and it sure looked as if Celek was hit early on the play - but the deflection went exactly where it could hurt the Eagles most.
That sums up the season for Vick, who has been neither very good nor very lucky, and whether he remains the starting quarterback or not seems to matter less every week. And it wasn't all bad luck and bad line play. Vick missed open receivers, ducked into a couple of sacks, and didn't look like the confident quarterback he promised would be on the field.
"I've got to get back to playing football the way I love to play it," Vick said as the Eagles prepared for the Saints, "and not worry what's going to happen, because that's out of my control."
Far from being carefree, however, Vick seemed careworn and tentative. He audibled to running plays - which turned out well for a while as LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown had big gains - but when the Eagles needed to mount a late comeback there was nowhere for Vick to hide.
If the remainder of this season is a referendum on the tenure of Andy Reid, then it is also a judgment on whether Vick returns as well for 2013. Based on what he's shown so far, it is impossible to imagine the Eagles choosing to pick up his option and pay him $16.5 million as opposed to buying him out for $3 million.
The only question is when those determinations will be made obvious, if not official. One way, at least for Vick, would be to bench him in favor of rookie Nick Foles. If a 3-4 record with nine games left wasn't enough for Reid to pull that trigger, then a 3-5 record with eight games left probably isn't, either. And while Vick wasn't good enough against the Saints, it would be difficult to scapegoat him after a game, much like the loss to the Falcons, in which the defense was atrocious. Not bad. Not mediocre. Atrocious.
Beyond that, putting Foles behind the current offensive line would be something akin to coaching malpractice. They could run the ball a lot; use a lot of short, safe routes; and dumb down the offense so that the rookie survived and got some game experience. That wouldn't be a pretty way to play the last two months of the season, though, and if it appears that morale is wanting now, it would be far worse if the season is conceded.
No, Michael Vick is probably going to stay out there, and the Eagles are going to extract their pound of flesh before cutting him loose. Vick was sacked seven times against the Saints and hit hard another 10 times after releasing the ball. He kept getting back up, which is increasingly being the best that can be said about him this season.
There was a flicker of hope when Vick found DeSean Jackson for a 77-yard touchdown pass early in the second half, but the Saints knew Vick would have to keep passing, and they kept finding him.
Whatever swag there was didn't last long on this night. Instead, his promise turned out be just more words in a season in which the Eagles are undefeated talking the talk, but 3-5 in walking the walk.
Vick is still the one who walks behind center, and we'll enjoy another week of discussion about whether that should continue. Does it still matter? Not very much.
Contact Bob Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @bobfordsports. Read his blog, "Post Patterns," at www.philly.com/postpatterns