Kelly tries to minimize fallout from Vick's poor outing

CLEM MURRAY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick tries to throw under pressure against the Chiefs.
CLEM MURRAY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick tries to throw under pressure against the Chiefs.
Posted: September 23, 2013

THE MAIN THING I took from those recent reports about the Eagles and Andy Reid trying to trade for Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith over the previous few years was this: Reid wanted to upgrade from Michael Vick.

So despite all the flowery sentiments flowing back and forth between Reid and Vick in the last week, I'm guessing Andy wasn't shocked Thursday to see Vick throw two killer interceptions, fumble the ball away late and get a couple more passes swatted by defensive linemen, one of them ruled an interception but overturned on review. Vick completed 13 of 30, the lowest percentage for an Eagles QB since the fondly recalled days of Mike McMahon in 2005.

Vick is Chip Kelly's problem now, and if the loss to Reid and the Chiefs proved anything, it is that Kelly's scheme hasn't made Vick a different quarterback, after all. But in an offense that really misses injured Jeremy Maclin, going to Nick Foles or Matt Barkley right now probably won't solve anything. So Kelly must try to win with Vick, until he can draft the QB he wants next April. In his day-after presser yesterday, the coach was in damage-control mode.

"I thought Mike played OK. He has played better," Kelly said. "It's always a combination. It's a team game, and it's not always on one guy. Got a couple balls tipped. Got to get some guys' hands down . . . We've got to be able to get to the top of our drop and not give up so many pressures. And there are times when the ball has to get out a little quicker. But I thought Mike played OK. He really kept things alive with his feet, gave us a dimension from that standpoint."

The 3-0 Chiefs came in with nine sacks in two games and added five more. They were helped by an Eagles game plan that eschewed short, quick passes for slower-developing downfield throws. Kelly said that was dictated by the Chiefs' man coverage, which makes the short stuff tougher, but ought to open opportunities downfield. Except, with the Chiefs getting consistent pressure and Vick misfiring, most of the opportunities went ungrasped. The Chiefs' strategy left room for Vick's runs, but in the NFL, you rarely win because of your QB's dominant running.

Asked about Vick forcing his second interception, in which Sean Smith cut inside Riley Cooper on an underthrown ball, Kelly said: "I don't think he was forcing it into that situation. I think he threw the ball on the back shoulder. More of a location situation. If he puts the ball out in front of him, I think we've got a good throw . . . Everything is close in this league. His location on that particular play wasn't where it should have been."

Asked about Vick setting his feet, Kelly said: "Did he miss some throws? Yeah. In the opening [win at Washington], he missed a couple throws, too. But I mean, he's still, right now, playing at a pretty good level . . . We expect them to be perfect on every play, put the ball in the proper location, make the proper read. Sometimes that doesn't happen. We have to continue to coach him. He understands it. Let's go over it and review it. Have there been some throws he's missed? Yeah."

Is Chip's Oregon guy, Marcus Mariota, probably gonna declare for the 2014 draft? Yeah.

* Given the Eagles' solid special-teams play of the first 2 weeks (not counting Alex Henery's missed field goal against the Chargers), KC's dominance in that area was shocking. Former Eagle Quintin Demps broke two long kickoff returns, including bringing the opening kickoff back 58 yards. Damaris Johnson fumbled away a punt and Donnie Jones consistently got outbooted by Dustin Colquitt. Oh, and Henery missed another field goal. Won't be a lot more of those until you hear "Eagles worked out former Team X kicker so-and-so Tuesday."

* Lots of times on a muffed fair catch, the returner ends up falling on the ball, but Johnson turned the wrong way, didn't know where it was.

* Nate Allen came up with the big sack on third-and-goal after the Johnson muff. Allen overall played much better Thursday, but, by the well-known Eagles commutative property of safety play, that meant Patrick Chung had to be horrendous, missing tackles and blowing coverages.

* Vinny Curry had a sack and a hurry in a dozen snaps. Two dozen snaps might be a good idea.

* As Eagles o-linemen noted afterward, the Chiefs brought linebacker Justin Houston late on blitzes, to great effect. Houston had 3 1/2 of Kansas City's five sacks. Back when Houston was drafted in 2011, there was talk that he slid from the first to the third round because of a positive marijuana test at the combine. He has become a star. Marijuana? Not such a huge red flag anymore.

* DeMeco Ryans was fined $21,000 for the hit that caused the scary neck injury to the Chargers' Malcom Floyd, the league deciding Floyd was a "defenseless receiver," though he had caught the ball and seemed to lower his head before making contact with Ryans' shoulder.

The Eagles could screw up a trick play even with Andy Reid on the other team's sideline?

The last time the Eagles won at the Linc, on Sept. 30 2012, the Giants' Lawrence Tynes missed the 54-yard potential game-winning field goal twice, the first negated when Andy Reid called timeout to ice him just before Tynes kicked. Fan reaction to the timeout was visceral. Reid said afterward he "kind of felt how Custer felt." Andy got much more love Thursday night, as he prolonged the Birds' home losing streak to eight games. They don't play another home game until Oct. 20, vs. Dallas.

Thursday night NFL games are an inferior product. Players are mentally and physically tired, and teams don't have adequate time to prepare. There hasn't been one this season that was sharp or well-played.

But the Chiefs-at-Eagles game averaged 9.4 million viewers, the highest-rated Thursday night game and the fourth-best audience in the NFL Network's history, so the gimmick is here to stay. Just wait until enough money is at stake for the league to go to Tuesday morning games, to take advantage of the European audience.

On Twitter: @LesBowen


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