Nick or Vick? The People’s Choice vs. the Safe Choice

October 16th, 2013 by Jim Chesko | Filed under Football, General, Sports.

nickorvick

It’s the great quarterback controversy of 2013: Nick or Vick? Now that second-year signal caller Nick Foles has an impressive, complete-game victory under his belt this season – Sunday’s 31-20 win over Tampa Bay, the same team he defeated last December for his first win as a starter – it’s the big debate for Eagles fans this week. The question, simply put: If Michael Vick is healthy, who should start at quarterback, Nick or Vick?

Most fans seem to prefer Foles over Vick as their quarterback of choice: A Philly.com poll had the 24-year-old Foles with a whopping 3-to-1 lead as of Monday evening. But the decision, of course, will ultimately be made by the head coach.

With Vick still working to recover from his hamstring injury suffered against the Giants, Chip Kelly – not surprisingly – was noncommittal at his day-after news conference Monday regarding which quarterback would get first-team reps this week ahead of Sunday’s first-place battle against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. “Until we know what the health is, I’m not saying what anybody isn’t or anybody is … All our decisions on who’s going to play are based on health.”

Does that mean the job is Vick’s once he’s back at 100%? Not necessarily. In that same news conference, Kelly said “all of our decisions are based on who’s going to give us the best opportunity to win.” Hmmm. (Remember, back in August, Kelly awarded the starting job to the 33-year-old Vick, saying he was his “starter for the season,” which we thought might mean for the entire season. Maybe not.)

Why Kelly might stick with Vick: To be fair, the veteran southpaw had played pretty well this year prior to his injury. Despite completing just 54% of NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Minicamphis passes, he threw for five touchdowns in his four-and-a-half games with just two interceptions, and his 8.98 yards-per-attempt is a career high. His passer rating of 90.6 is his best since his big 2010 season (100.2). And, although the head coach won’t say it, Vick – when he’s on his gam – probably is the better fit for the uptempo offense Kelly likes to run.

Plus, there’s the theory that you’re not supposed to lose your starting job to injury. Of course, wasn’t that how Vick got the starting job in the first place back in 2010? (To refresh yhour memory, Kevin Kolb got hurt in the season opener and Vick stepped in and impressed Andy Reid enough to convince Big Red to make a change.) Heck, Tom Brady took the starting job early in the Patriots’ 2001 season following an injury to Drew Bledsoe and kept it – and that worked out pretty well for Brady and then second-year coach Bill Belichick!

Why Kelly might commit to Nick: Had Foles played poorly on Sunday, regardless of the outcome of the game, no one would have a problem if the coach said Vick’s his guy when healthy. But Foles was very impressive in beating the Bucs, who – though winless – have one of the league’s better defenses. He completed 22-of-31 passes for 296 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 133.3. Eight different Eagles caught passes. It’s a small sample, granted, but for the season, Foles’ passer rating is 127.9 compared to Vick’s 90.6.

One of the knocks on Foles previously was arm strength. But that right arm sure looked good Sunday when he connected on touchdown passes of 47 yards and 36 yards to Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson, respectively.

Plus, the Arizona grad looked cool and calm in bringing the Birds back after both the Giants and Bucs had taken leads the past two weekends. For a young player, he seems very confident.

This writer’s vote? In addition to the fact that he’s shown he can run Kelly’s offense, Nick Foles has been much more successful in the red zone than Vick. Much, much more. With Foles under center, the Eagles have been in the red zone seven times, and have four touchdowns. On Sunday, they were 2-of-3, and the lone none-touchdown was the Birds’ final drive when they were clearly trying simply to eat up the clock and set up a chip-shot field that would seal the win. (Mission accomplished.) Vick, meanwhile, has led the Eagles to just five touchdowns in 14 red-zone opportunities this season. The red-zone passer-rating comparison: Foles 104.2, Vick 57.1. That’s a significant difference, and – for a team that needs to score a lot of points to win – it’s enough of a difference to sway me to go with Foles.

The one caveat, something that Hall of Fame sportswriter Ray Didinger has noted on several occasions: It’s a safer choice to go with Vick (when healthy) as the starter, knowing that Foles is there to provide relief if needed, since Foles is more-accustomed to that role, rather than to award Foles the job and then have to go back to Vick if the second-year quarterback faltered. That’s a valid argument, and one wonders if Kelly is taking that into consideration, too. We shall see.

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