Kelly sends out mixed messages on Vick

Posted: October 09, 2013

In the space of less than 24 hours, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick went from play-to-play to day-to-day. It is a confusing regression, and maybe just a way to keep the Tampa Bay Buccaneers guessing, but Chip Kelly says he has no idea whether Vick or Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback this Sunday.

After the win against the New York Giants in which Foles took over after Vick strained his left hamstring, Kelly said, "If Nick were to go down, I think we would have been able to put Mike back in the game." On Monday, Kelly said that he expected Vick to miss Tuesday's practice and that his availability for the next game is unknown.

Those two things don't seem to go together: Vick was all right to return to action two days ago, but might not make it back for a game five days from now. And just to clarify, we don't make these things up, we just write them down.

Kelly said he doesn't delve into the details of the medical reports. He merely asks whether a player can go and then moves on from there. It's a reasonable approach - and a departure from the previous coach, who loved to detail the difference between a Grade 1 sprain and a Grade 2 sprain - but there seems to be a little disconnect in the information he is getting.

The team's on-site medical staff told Kelly that Vick was cleared to keep playing after he grabbed his hamstring on a run around the left side late in the first half against the Giants and then finished that series with three more plays.

Kelly gave that assessment the eyeball test for one more play, which ended with Vick's being pancaked in the end zone after delivering an incomplete pass, and pulled him out in favor of Foles.

"When he was in the game and we went back in, they thought he was good to go back in," Kelly said Monday. "I watched him try to get away from the rush, and that wasn't fair to Mike. I'm not going to put him in that situation, so we'll see how he is."

Several media reports, including one sourced by The Inquirer's Jeff McLane, said the decision to keep Vick out against the Bucs already has been made. Kelly said flatly those reports are inaccurate and dodged any attempts to pin him down further. The coach said there is no deadline for determining Vick's status and made it sound as if the incumbent starter doesn't even have to practice this week.

"It depends. I'm not going to tell you, 'Coach, you said [by] Thursday,' and then Sunday they say, 'He's 100 percent,' and I say, 'He's playing.' I'm not going to predict the future," Kelly said.

As Tampa Bay prepares for the Eagles, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan will try to do just that, however. It's not an easy job, but neither is riding the sinking ship being captained by head coach Greg Schiano.

The Bucs' defense, in which Schiano has a large role as well, is pretty good, at least compared to the Tampa Bay offense. In losing four straight games to start the season, the Bucs have allowed more than 18 points only once, and that was on the road at New England. They have given up a total of 29 points in their two previous home games.

Tampa Bay gets sacks (13) and interceptions (six, by six players) and has limited opponents to 332 net yards per game. It is a defense that would provide a good test for either Vick, a better deep threat and a dangerous running option when healthy, or Foles, who gets rid of the ball quickly and accurately but is not very mobile.

Which will take the test? Kelly says he doesn't know, but also claims it shouldn't matter all that much to the offense.

"We do the same things offensively with Nick that we did with Mike, so we didn't have to deviate much from anything in terms of what we're doing, and I think that's the beauty of those guys," Kelly said. "There are some things that Nick does different than Mike does. But it's not like we have to say, 'Hey, we're going to be an I-formation team on Sunday if Nick's in the game.' "

Well, fine, if he says so, but that's not how it looked against the Giants. And also fine, if Kelly says no decision has been made on the starter. The Bucs will just have to wait and see.

That could be the whole point.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports


inquirer.com/postpatterns

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