The Philadelphia Eagles are three games into the 2012 season, and quarterback Michael Vick has yet to turn in a complete performance.
Vick has turned the ball over nine times through three games. By comparison, no other team in the NFL has as many as nine turnovers. The 2011 San Francisco 49ers turned the ball over just 10 times in 16 games, an NFL-record for fewest turnovers in a season.
Sure, the Eagles are 2-1, thanks to comeback victories against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, but they were thoroughly manhandled and completely embarrassed against the Arizona Cardinals in week three.
Vick’s poor performance against the Browns and mediocre performance against the Ravens could be overlooked because of his sensational play with the game on the line. But games like he played against the Cardinals are unacceptable.
It’s not just the turnovers for Vick. He looks as if might have lost a step. He’s been making poor decisions on the field, throwing erratically across his body, and taking numerous amounts of hits that could be avoided.
This is a must-win year for head coach Andy Reid to keep his job, and I have no doubt that he will start the quarterback on the roster that gives the Eagles the greatest chance of winning this season.
Right now that’s Vick. But in a few weeks, that could be rookie third round draft pick Nick Foles.
In fact, Reid hinted at it during Monday’s press conference.
“Right now, we’re with Michael, and that’s what we’re doing. We’ll evaluate as we go.”
Think about that. When has Reid given anything other than a ringing endorsement of a player? That was definitely not a ringing endorsement for Vick.
That comment opened the door for a quarterback controversy. No doubt.
The fact that the Eagles have now closed practices to the media means that Foles could already be taking first-team reps. Obviously all of the players would have been informed not to report it to the media, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it is happening.
The next three games for the Eagles are crucial. They play the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Detroit Lions. All three teams made the postseason last year. Those won’t be easy games for the Eagles.
If Vick continues to struggle, I wouldn’t be stunned to see Foles start for the Eagles following their bye in week seven. The Eagles play the powerful Atlanta Falcons in week eight, which wouldn’t be an easy first start for Foles.
But if Vick continues to turn the ball over and display a total lack of awareness against the blitz, he will lose his job.
Reid isn’t afraid to bench his quarterback.
Donovan McNabb was benched against the Ravens in the second half of week 12 of the 2008 season. Kevin Kolb played poorly, the Eagles lost big, and McNabb was named the starter next week. He led the Eagles to wins in six of their next seven games, with the Eagles advancing to the NFC championship game for the fifth time in eight seasons.
Kevin Kolb was benched before the third game of the 2010 season because of the dominant play of Vick, who led the Eagles to 52 points in six quarters as the starting quarterback.
The two benchings have been pretty different.
McNabb was benched because he was playing poorly. Reid knew it would light a fire under him and it did, propelling the Eagles into the playoffs.
But Kolb was benched because Vick was playing so well. Sure, Kolb had struggled in his first game against the Green Bay Packers, but he likely would have been given the job back if Vick hadn’t dominated during his limited playing time.
Personally, I think Reid’s comments during his postgame conference will light a fire under Vick. I expect the Eagles to win a shootout against the Giants. I’m not sure yet about the Steelers, but the Lions have the league’s worst pass defense and I expect a win there too.
That would put the Eagles at 4-2 heading into their bye week, and it would eliminate the majority of the quarterback controversy.
All I can say though is that Vick better get his act together or he will lose his job. It’s not a question of ‘if’. It’s a question of ‘when.’