Sunday was another travel day for me, so I didn’t get a chance to sit down and watch the Eagles beat up on the Our-QB-Is-Out-The-Door-And-Our-Coach-Is-Next Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All I would have to go off is the box score and highlights, which isn’t much help, so instead I thought I’d take a shot at sorting out the brand new Philadelphia quarterback debate.
The Case For Vick
- Vick won the battle out of training camp, and just about everyone in Philly agreed Vick had earned the starting job over Foles. Yes the team did go 1-3 under Vick through the first four games, but it was most certainly the toughest stretch of their schedule, and the defense wasn’t really helping Mike out in any of the losses. Vick had the Eagles leading the Giants at half before he went out with an injury, and probably would have had no trouble with the Bucs either. Foles has played 6 great quarters of football so far, but should Kelly just hand him the starting job after Vick beat him out in an open competition?
- The easiest case to make for Vick is the additional element he brings to the Eagles offense with his feet. Before going down Vick had rushed for 307 yards on 33 carries, which is good for a 9.3 average ypc and would be his highest ypc average since his rookie season. Vick’s rushing skills have accounted for two touchdowns along with 17 first downs, which is good for 13th in the league, despite missing the last six quarters. In fact as of today Vick still has more rushing yards than MJD, Stevan Ridley, Darren McFadden, and Ray Rice.
- While Vick’s production with his feet is no surprise, his lack of turnovers thus far is a shock. In the previous 35 games Vick started before this season he had turned the ball over a coronary bursting 43 times. This season however Vick has limited himself to only 4 turnovers through the first 5 games. A number that should really be 3 since Jason Kelce forgot what a hand on his taint felt like and snapped the ball to nobody against the Chiefs.
- Thanks to limiting those turnovers Vick has posted a QB rating of 90.6 through the first five games of the season, putting him ahead of players like Kaepernick, Griffin, Newton, Luck, and Brady none of whom are in danger of losing their starting job anytime soon.
- Against San Diego Vick had the best passing game of his career when he completed 23 of 36 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns. He also added another touchdown on the ground.
- Red zone issues have been a problem for Vick in the past, and certainly look that way again this season, but when you look back on the games thus far you remember that Vick would have a better TD % if some of his receivers like Casey and Celek had held onto sure touchdowns in games against the Chargers and Broncos. Despite the red zone issues Vick had still led the Eagles to ranking 8th in the league in points scored per game and 2nd in the league in total yards per game.
The Case For Foles
- 2 games played and 2 notches in the win column for the Eagles. As fun as it is for single dorks like myself to pour over stats in the end wins and losses are all that matter to the city, the owner, the coach, and the players. Foles can’t help the the schedule broke in a way that put him up against the Giants who are giving out turnovers like they are a PEZ dispenser and the Bucs whose players are one loss away from giving Greg Schiano a swirly and pelting him with urine filled water balloons. Foles has come in and won both games now, which is more than Vick can say thus far this season.
- In the six quarters and garbage time against the Broncos Foles has completed 67% of his passes for 542 yards and 6 touchdowns to zero interceptions or fumbles. That’s good for a QB rating of 127.9. Foles has accomplished this while also growing an immaculate mane that would make Brady jealous. The most important stat to pull out of all of those is the 67% completion percentage, because while Vick has played decently he’s also only been completing 53.8% of his passes. That number may only rise slightly for Vick when you consider he’s completed about 56% of his passes over the course of his career. Foles completion percentage could certainly dip if he plays out the season, but we don’t know. That uncertainly is an advantage for Foles, because he is only 24 and for all anyone knows he could turn into a franchise QB. At the same time Vick is now 33, and we have a crystal clear idea of who he is as a quarterback.
- In the 2 games played so far Foles has only been sacked twice, compared to the 14 sacks Vick had taken in the first 4.5 games. The OL has been exactly the same. The difference is Foles gets rid of the ball in just over 2 seconds. If the play isn’t working he dumps out of it quicker than MacKenzie McHale did when she realized Genoa was a sham (Extra points for the Newsroom reference). A stark contrast from Vick who holds onto the ball like a deranged girl holds onto a relationship after the guy has dumped her and starting dating someone else.
- Prior to the Tampa game, I was getting ready to argue that Riley Cooper was one of the three least productive number 2 receivers in the NFL. Then he goes out and puts up 120 receiving yards and a score, against one of the better defenses the Eagles have played so far. So what changed? I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess Vick tends to target Jackson much more than the other receivers, while Foles in the two games he’s played does a better job of surveying the entire field and getting more players involved. Even more impressive Foles spread the ball around, while also satisfying Jackson who recorded the first two touchdown game of his career.
- There are no numbers to back it up, but the Eagles offense just looks like it runs more efficiently under Foles. The tempo is a little faster and there seems to be fewer broken plays. Again I have nothing to really back this up with, it’s just what I’ve seen on the field.
I think right now it’s still a toss up. If Foles plays well again against Dallas Sunday, I’d bet the job is his going forward. If Foles is average and the Eagles lose the job goes back to Vick. In all honesty I’m fine with either guy being in there. This is a throw away season for the Eagles. They might make the playoffs thanks to the division, but they aren’t winning the Super Bowl with that defense and nobody expects them too. I think the heights the offense can reach with a player like Vick are much greater than with a player like Foles. Kelly isn’t lying when he says his system can work for someone like Foles. Dennis Dixon was never a great runner at Oregon and neither was Jeremiah Masoli for that matter. And with Vick in there you get flashes of how dominant this offense can be, but I think Foles will give the Eagles a better chance to win on a week to week basis. Really I don’t care too much about who plays, cause my hope is that the Eagles come out of the 2014 draft with Kelly’s former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota since I don’t think Vick or Foles will be the quarterback to get the Eagles to a Super Bowl.
Lost in all the quarterback debate is how well this Eagles offense has been through the first six games. Kelly’s offense has gone over 30 points 4 times already and none of those scores have been aided by defensive touchdowns. In the previous two seasons the Eagles did it a total of 6 times. The offense is 4th in points per game, second in total yards per game, and first in the league in rushing yards per game at 178.5. Eagles fans have been holding their breath and stomping up and down like Gloria from Wedding Crashers begging the team to run the ball more, and now under Kelly the Eagles are leading the entire league in rushing yards per game. Kelly has also done a good job so far getting the team to limit the number of turnovers, which he is known to be a obsessive about. With Vick at the helm for the first four and a half games they have still only turned it over 8 times good for 8th in the league in fewest giveaways. Kelly should be given the Liberty Bell for being able to pull that off with Vick as his quarterback. Kelly has also squeezed an above average season so far out of the 33 year old Vick, while also making Foles look like Touchdown Jesus. And if that isn’t enough Kelly’s offense has led to McCoy being the league’s leading rusher and Desean Jackson being the league’s most productive WR through the first six weeks of the season. After the first half against the Skins and the subsequent three game tank people have let Kelly’s work with the offense go unnoticed, but I don’t think that will last much longer.
Super Bowl Eliminator
Minnesota Vikings – Is there a more white flag waving move than being excited about signing a QB that was stripped of his captaincy before the season, had yet to win a game in 2013, was benched for a rookie 3rd round pick, and was ultimately cut because not a single team was willing to give up even a 7th round pick for him. Despite that Vikings GM Rick Spielman had this to say on the acquisition of Josh Freeman, “When does the opportunity present itself for you to get the guy you wanted to draft five years ago but missed out on? And he’s still young enough to become the franchise QB you envisioned him to be?” To answer your question Rick that opportunity never presents itself because nobody gets rid of franchise quarterbacks and Josh ain’t a franchise quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons – Along with sinking the Falcons Super Bowl chances the Julio Jones injury also crushed my fantasy team this season. It would have been more productive for me to have taken the money for the league planted it in the ground and urinated on it to see if a money tree would grow.