Vick and Foles prove capable in Eagles opener

Nick Foles and Michael Vick celebrate after a second-quarter touchdown against the New England Patriots. Despite an early fumble by Foles, both quarterbacks looked sharp in the Eagles' first preseason game under coach Chip Kelly. The defense, however, was easily exploited in a 31-22 loss Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Complete coverage in Sports, Section D.
Nick Foles and Michael Vick celebrate after a second-quarter touchdown against the New England Patriots. Despite an early fumble by Foles, both quarterbacks looked sharp in the Eagles' first preseason game under coach Chip Kelly. The defense, however, was easily exploited in a 31-22 loss Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Complete coverage in Sports, Section D. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 11, 2013

Michael Vick raised the stakes in the quarterback competition on Friday night by throwing a touchdown for a dynamic start to the most pivotal preseason of the 33-year-old quarterback's career.

Nick Foles responded after losing a fumble by effectively executing a hurry-up offense and leading the team to a touchdown. It capped his evening, and was his rebuttal to Vick's theatrics.

Because on an evening when questions about the defense only intensified in a 31-22 loss to the New England Patriots, the quarterback situation at least looked more promising.

"It gave me confidence in both those guys," first-year coach Chip Kelly said.

There was no conclusive evidence as to whom would eventually become the team's starting quarterback when the season opens on Sept. 9, but both quarterbacks led scoring drives on Friday. Both also appeared capable of leading a diluted version of Kelly's system, and Friday offered Kelly his best sample yet to evaluate.

"We didn't do a third of what we normally would do," Vick said. "We had fun with we got. We knew it was going to be very vanilla."

Kelly said a quarterback would be named by the time the team starts game-planning for the season opener, but that the game-planning will not begin until after the final preseason game.

Statistically, Vick was superior. He finished 4 for 5 for 94 yards and one touchdown, taking nine snaps. Foles' evening ended after he went 5 for 6 for 43 yards, 10 rushing yards, and one fumble. He took 12 snaps.

"I try to make a statement every day," Vick said. "Every day is competition."

Vick started for the offense after the Patriots shredded the Eagles' defense with six rushing plays for 80 yards, a rude welcome to the NFL for Kelly. But Vick returned the offense for a score at an even quicker pace, requiring just five plays to tie the game.

The team twice ran the ball to open the game, and the offense was not the hurried version of football that befits Kelly's reputation. Vick connected with reliable slot receiver Jason Avant for a 22-yard gain on a third down. The pass moved the chains and set up a play that could become a defining point if Vick earns the job.

On a second and 6 from the Patriots' 47-yard line, Vick threw a perfect pass deep down the right sideline to DeSean Jackson. The speedy receiver had run past top Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, just as he had done to helpless Eagles cornerbacks throughout training camp.

Vick led Jackson into the end zone, capitalizing on a play he discussed with Jackson on the way to the stadium.

"It just goes to show when you're on the same page with your teammates and guys put the time and effort into the game like you do, good things can happen," Vick said.

Vick returned for the next possession after another Patriots scoring drive. He took four snaps, completing two of three passes. The first one was a 19-yard completion to receiver Riley Cooper, who started and did not draw any noticeable negative reaction.

It was then Foles' turn to match. He could not on his first time on the field.

On the second play, Foles dropped back into a pocket that collapsed on him. Much of the responsibility goes to a breakdown from the offensive line, and Patriots defender Chandler Jones dragged Foles to the ground and the ball popped out of Foles' grasp for a fumble. The fumble on Friday was an inauspicious start, even if he had little time.

"After you have a turnover, it really shows you what's the team going to down, how are we going to respond?" Foles said. "I thought the guys did a great job of responding after that."

With the offense seemingly running at its fastest tempo of the game, Foles atoned for the turnover and proved capable in the offense. He led a 10-play drive in which he completed all but one of his passes. He even scrambled for 10 yards when there was open field in front of him - a positive sign that helps validate the team stance that Foles' athleticism is underrated.

He also was adept at finding the check-down receiver, twice connecting with Bryce Brown when there was nothing open downfield. He connected with three different receivers and threw to four different receivers. The touchdown was an 8-yard run by Brown that tied the game.

The one caveat was that this drive came against the Patriots' second-team defense, although Foles insists he does not focus on the quarterback competition during the game.

"If you start doing that, you start getting out of who you are," Foles said. "Of course, I'm a competitor. . . . But I also know if you start pressing or try to do too much, bad things can happen."

The evaluation of the quarterbacks concluded at that point, with the Patriots accumulating points and the Eagles' offense inconsistent under Matt Barkley. The rookie finished 11 of 22 for 103 yards and one touchdown, heating up toward the end of the third quarterback. If the biggest issue of the preseason is Kelly finding a quarterback, then Friday was at least an encouraging step.

Both Vick and Foles proved capable, raising the stakes for Thursday's second preseason game and giving Kelly a better idea of what he has with the season now one month away.

Quarterback Numbers

Vick: 4 for 5, 94 yards, 1 TD

Foles: 5 for 6, 43 yards, 0 TD, 10 rushing yards, 1 fumble

Barkley: 11 for 22, 103 yards, 1 TD

Click here for complete coverage of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.


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

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|