Vick struggles but Eagles beat Jags

Damaris Johnson is chased by a host of Jaguars during a kick return. RON CORTES / Staff
Damaris Johnson is chased by a host of Jaguars during a kick return. RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: August 26, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A coaching change and organizational shift in philosophy gave the Eagles new life throughout the preseason, yet for at least one night, the Eagles appeared too much like the 2012 edition to enter the 2013 season with unabashed optimism.

If Saturday's 31-24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the final significant tune-up for the starters before the Sept. 9th opener against the Washington Redskins, then there would understandably be more concern than after the first two games.

Michael Vick exhibited the inconsistency that put him in a quarterback competition before his performance in the first two preseason games earned him the job. A rebuilt defense, complete with a new scheme and new personnel, still appeared prone to allowing big plays. There were moments of radiance from Vick and the defense, but the uneven performances overshadowed those flashes.

"I thought he did a real good job keeping plays alive at times, but there were some other times when you got to cut your losses and get us back to the line of scrimmage for the next snap," Kelly said.

But Kelly said he would "not use the word 'regress' at all," when asked about Vick's performance Saturday.

Vick finished 15 for 23 with 184 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, along with 53 rushing yards. It's a respectable line, but it pales compared to the first two games.

"I look at my performance, and I think I did some good things out there," Vick said. "It's not always going to be perfect. I'm not perfect. But I can do better."

His interception came when he attempted a throw off his back foot. He held the ball too long and took more hits than he had exposed himself to in the first two games. The offense was less explosive, and the players seemed at times confused or disoriented.

"I think we were a little inconsistent," guard Evan Mathis said. "We had some big plays, but we left a lot of big plays out there."

Nick Foles, the backup quarterback, led the Eagles to the fourth-quarter victory. Foles finished 10 of 11 for 112 yards. Running back Bryce Brown finished with 92 yards, one TD, and one fumble.

Vick insisted he's ready for the season to begin and is proud of the way he approached this preseason.

And there were positives in Vick's performance. On a third-and-8 in the first quarter, Vick scrambled for 16 yards to extend a scoring drive. He rebounded from a turnover by hitting consecutive completions, capped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper.

But it was the mindless interception and the times he stayed in the pocket too long that looked too much like the Vick of 2012.

The other two units also played like it was 2012. The defense opened the game by making Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne look like Tom Brady. Henne led Jacksonville on a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive that included completions to right cornerback Bradley Fletcher's side of the field for 21 and 17 yards. Jaguars running back Jordan Todman ran through the Eagles defense for a 63-yard touchdown, the third rush of more than 50 yards against the Eagles defense this season.

"We took some really bad angles . . . but I think we've done a better job overall of getting people to run to the ball," Kelly said. "We're gang-tackling better as a group than we did in the first game, but we can't allow plays like that."

There were also seven sacks, and linebacker Connor Barwin made a diving interception in the second quarter. Defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton were stout up front, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks could often be found in the backfield.

On special teams, Damaris Johnson fumbled a punt return but also had a kick return of 61 yards.

And that was the vexing part of Saturday's game. The Eagles were undone the past two seasons by inconsistency and turnovers. They reoccurred on Saturday, even with Kelly on the sideline. He has two weeks before the games count.

"There is no place where we can say, 'We're good, we're good to go,' " Kelly said.

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Contact Zach Berman at Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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