Can't argue with Vick's performance

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick runs on a late second-quarter drive last night in Eagles preseason win over Carolina.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick runs on a late second-quarter drive last night in Eagles preseason win over Carolina.
Posted: August 16, 2013

AFTER LAST night, maybe there is still a way for Chip Kelly to tell Michael Vick he isn’t the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

Hard to imagine what he would say, though, with Vick 13-for-15 for 199 yards in two games, one of the two passes he hasn’t completed being a meaningless Hail Mary pick on the final play of the first half last night.

Asked that question after the Eagles’ 14-9 preseason victory over the visiting Carolina Panthers, Kelly said:

“That’s a good question. I thought Mike put another good game together, but we’re going to evaluate everything ... I think we have two quarterbacks that can play in an NFL game, so we’ll continue to look at it. But you feel better about that situation.”

Later, pressed on the matter, the Eagles coach said: “You can put your pens down if you think we’re naming a quarterback in this room right now.”

Vick refused to name himself the starter, though he did provide a rare glimpse into his soul, when he credited Kelly with restoring his confidence. Maybe Vick was among the people who thought he was done here after last season’s 4-12 debacle.

“When things don’t go well and everybody’s pointing their finger at you, sometimes it can hurt your confidence,” Vick, 33, said. “I read everything that was said. I lived it.”

Vick said when he sat down with Kelly, “his main goal was to help me get back into top shape, get me comfortable, and to a point where I could believe in myself again.”

Vick said he “fell in love with the game again, and I’m grateful for that.”

Center Jason Kelce said he wasn’t surprised to hear Vick say such things.

“Mike had been hit so hard, not just by the media, but by all the fans in general,” Kelce said. “It really doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re getting berated a lot by a lot of people, it’s going to hit you at some point. As much as you try to tune a lot of that out, the guy’s not deaf.”

Vick emerged as the big story on “Action News” last night, though Nick Foles certainly moved the ball again, and was one play away from being, arguably, as impressive as Vick last night, if you judged by results and didn’t factor in feel.

Other developments: The Eagles might not have the worst defense ever assembled, after all, a distinction that seemed possible after their first preseason effort.

The Eagles’ defensive starters held Cam Newton and the Panthers to a pair of field goals in the first half. There were no 62- or 51-yard gallops by the opposition, unlike the previous game; DeAngelo Williams managed 39 yards on 12 first-half carries, 3.3 yards per carry. Newton finished 8-for-17 for 112 yards and a 68.8 passer rating.

Cary Williams made his debut at corner and didn’t do anything all that notable — except for a jawing match after Steve Smith shoved him down — but the secondary definitely looked less defenseless against Newton than it had against Tom Brady.

Fletcher Cox bounced back from his puzzling, weak first-game performance. Cedric Thornton looked dominant. Tackling was not an issue, for once.

“A lot better,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “I think just kind of looking at the guys’ eyes out there, everyone calmed down a little bit and felt good out there ... I think we tackled a lot better. There was a lot of gang tackling. I think guys filled the gaps.”

Again, Foles and Vick each led one touchdown drive. Foles led another drive that moved from the Eagles’ 20 to the Panthers’ 3 in 11 plays, but on the 12th play, Foles fumbled the shotgun snap — for the second time in the drive — and this time, instead of recovering and throwing a completion, as he had previously, Foles tried to avoid a sack by forcing a ball into the end zone. He was trying to throw it away. In this case, “away” ended up being the arms of Panthers corner Josh Thomas, standing at the back of the end zone.

“I made a bad play worse,” Foles said.

That was a huge blot on Foles’ 6-for-8, 53-yard night; it left him with a 52.6 passer rating. Foles ran twice for 13 yards, including 7 yards for the TD. He again was effective running read option, uptempo stuff.

Make that, Foles was effective, but kinda frantic and jittery-looking, especially on the two fumbled snaps. That was a surprise, frankly, given the cool head Foles has shown since arriving in the third round last year. “It’s just looking the ball in,” he said. “I think my eyes are just going up on the defense too fast.”

Foles’ touchdown drive included one of the all-time highlight-film runs of LeSean McCoy’s career, a cutback from the left sideline to the middle that slashed a gaping, 21-yard wound in the Panthers’ defense. This was McCoy’s first action of the preseason, and it was reassuring, 47 yards on eight carries, three catches for another 16 yards.

“They blocked it to the left. I saw a guy, made a cut. Some things, you feel,” said McCoy, who had been sidelined by a minor knee injury. “It’s hard to really describe ... you feel and you go.”

Vick was flawless. He ran a more uptempo pace than in the opener, and completed his first nine passes, for 105 yards. The 10th and final pass was that Hail Mary pick that ended the half. Vick seemed to be leading a scoring drive that ended abruptly on a Chris Polk fumble. Vick ran twice for 20 yards.

If you came in thinking Vick should be the QB, he has done nothing in two preseason games to make you think otherwise. If you came in thinking Foles should be the QB, maybe you could say he has shown enough upside that he should lead a rebuilding team into the future, but that all but ignores the competition being played out on the field. Foles is 11-for-14 for 96 yards through two games.

There are guys in the locker room who have been playing with Vick since he arrived 4 years ago, who really aren’t going to understand any other decision, at this point.

Vick was asked last night whether there won’t be a point when it’s time for a clear starter to get the majority of the reps and begin preparing for the Sept.9 season opener at Washington.

“I think there comes a point where somebody has to start taking more reps, but that’s totally up to coach Kelly and what he decides on,” Vick said.

Kelly said a while back that his expectation was for it to be obvious to everyone who the starter should be, that his decision would only confirm what we’d all been watching.

It sure seems as if this was what he had in mind.

Birdseed

Brandon Boykin couldn’t bring down a pair of should-have-been interceptions ... Tight end Emil Igwenagu made a nice catch over the middle, took a hard hit and went to the locker room with a “head injury” ... Tight end Clay Harbor did indeed get some wide-receiver looks, after practicing there during the week ... Left tackle Jason Peters (hamstring) warmed up but did not play ... With Jon Dorenbos (concussion) out, long snapper James Winchester made his Eagles debut. Alex Henery missed a 44-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half, but the snap seemed to be OK ... Running back Bryce Brown (quad) was among those who sat out, a group that included right guard Danny Watkins (concussion) ... Running back Felix Jones left with a rib injury, cornerback Curtis Marsh with a hand injury.

Click here for complete coverage of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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