10 Reasons Why I Would Not Bench Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick for Nick Foles
A lot of the talk in the National Football League right now, and especially in the city of Philadelphia, centers around whether the Philadelphia Eagles should bench veteran quarterback Michael Vick, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a man who was named the starter two games into the 2010 season, for rookie Nick Foles, a third round draft pick this past April.
The Eagles are 3-4 and reeling, following back-to-back-to-back losses against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons. The first two losses were on walkoff field goals, and you could find excuses to make in both of them. Both teams were coming off a bye and both were desperate for a win to keep their season alive. But there are no excuses to be made for the loss against the Falcons. Yes, they were coming off a bye, making that the third straight game in which the Eagles faced a team coming off a bye, but the Eagles also had a bye week to prepare for the Falcons. Head coach Andy Reid brought his 13-0 record following bye weeks into the game, and watched as his team suffered an embarrassing 30-17 defeat that wasn't even remotely as close as the score indicated.
The loss knocked the Eagles' playoff chances down to slim, and it will take a near-miracle, likely wins in seven of their final nine games, for the Eagles to reach the postseason, where they will likely need to win at least two games to keep the job of Reid. If not, expect a new head coach next season. Right now though, the Eagles need to let Vick continue starting instead of Foles, for a whole bunch of reasons which will be outlined in the following slides (in no particular order).
1. Michael Vick is the team leader.
If the Eagles make the decision to bench Vick for Foles, they stand the chance of losing a large number of veteran players on the team. Guys like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek grew up idolizing Vick. He was probably the player they used the most in Madden. Now that they've had the chance to play with him, they're not going to want to lose that opportunity for an unproven rookie.
2. Michael Vick is the best quarterback on the team.
I don't care how poorly Vick is playing this season (and I don't think it's quite as bad as the majority of fans think). Vick is the best quarterback on the Eagles. The best player on the team at the position should absolutely start. Vick is still the quarterback who has the tendency to go off for six touchdowns, like he did against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football in 2010, or lead a 21-point fourth quarter comeback, like he did against the New York Giants with the division title on the line in 2010. Teams may be stopping him this season, but they still have to game plan for him as one of the biggest weapons in the league.
3. Andy Reid and Michael Vick deserve to go down swinging.
It's no secret that the job of both Reid and Vick is on the line this season. If the Eagles don't win a couple of postseason games, Reid will be gone. As for Vick? Well, he's 100 percent gone if he's benched, but he has a chance if he plays the rest of the season and takes the Eagles into the playoffs. He deserves a chance to go down swinging, as does Reid. Let the Eagles go down with their best, which is Reid and Vick, instead of Reid and Foles and a disinterested team.
4. Third easy second-half schedule in the NFL
The Eagles don't play a team with a winning record until the season finale, when they travel to New York to play the Giants, a team they've beaten eight of the last nine times they've played them. They play brutal defenses, like the Washington Redskins (twice), the Dallas Cowboys (twice), the Carolina Panthers, and the New Orleans Saints. They have a winnable second-half schedule. I'm not saying I think the Eagles will make the playoffs, but they definitely won't if Vick is replaced with Foles for the second half of the season.
5. Nick Foles won't survive behind the offensive line.
Michael Vick is one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league, which is why he has been able to play seven games, uninjured, behind a weak offensive line that is missing its two best players for the remainder of the season: left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce. Take away Vick and replace him with Foles, who ran the slowest 40-yard dash by a quarterback in 12 years at the NFL Scouting Combine, and you'd have the recipe for disaster. Remember Kevin Kolb getting crushed by Clay Matthews in the 2010 season opener? Do you want to see the same thing happen with Foles?
6. Michael Vick has proven success in the NFL.
Vick has had a pretty good career in the NFL. He's not worth the first overall pick, or the two $100 million contracts he was given. But he has earned four Pro Bowl selections, three with the Atlanta Falcons and one with the Philadelphia Eagles following his release from prison in 2009. He led the Falcons to the NFC championship game in 2004 despite a limited supporting cast and a mediocre defense, and he led the Eagles to a dramatic division title in 2010 despite opening the season as the backup. I'm not sure he's past his prime either. He's lost a step as a runner, but he's got a solid resume. Foles has nothing but a great preseason against second and third team defenses.
7. Michael Vick's clutch ability
Michael Vick is a clutch quarterback. There's no denying that. He led the Eagles on late-game do-or-die game-winning touchdown drives against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens despite playing poorly throughout the game. He led a last-second game-winning field goal drive against the New York Giants. He led a go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin with five minutes remaining to give the Eagles a 10-point lead against the Detroit Lions. He's a rich man's version of Tim Tebow, a quarterback who doesn't play well throughout the first three quarters but steps up his game when it counts the most. He's not going to come through every time (no quarterback does), but he's quietly been pretty successful when it matters the most this year. That's a lot of responsibility to put on a rookie because most Eagles games are going to come down to the fourth quarter.
8. Nick Foles wasn't drafted to be the team's savior.
When the Eagles selected Nick Foles in the 2012 draft, I think they did it because they wanted a solid backup quarterback in case Michael Vick went down with an injury, which he actually hasn't done yet this year. But I don't think the Eagles were drafting Vick's replacement, or the quarterback of the future. You don't pick your replacement quarterback in the third round. You use a first round pick on him, like the Eagles did with Donovan McNabb in 1999, and like the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns did this season. Third round quarterbacks do not usually play right away. Trent Edwards for the 2007 Buffalo Bills is the last one to start more than nine games in a season (although Russell Wilson appears likely to beat that for the Seattle Seahawks this season). Take a look at your great quarterbacks today. Peyton Manning was selected first overall. So was Eli Manning. Aaron Rodgers was a first round pick, as were Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. Drew Brees was the first pick of the second round. Tom Brady is your rare exception (sixth round). It's not likely that Foles will become the savior for the Eagles this season, or even in the future. I think the Eagles will add another quarterback, either through a trade, free agency, or the draft, to compete for the starting job with Foles in 2013, assuming Vick does not return.
9. Michael Vick's turnover problem is highly overrated.
The Philadelphia Eagles will be a winning football team with an elite offense if they can cut down on their turnovers, notably Vick. At least that's what everybody said. But all of a suffen, fans are realizing that turnovers are not the reason why this team is losing. The Eagles didn't turn the football over once against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but they still scored just 19 points and needed a last-second missed field goal by Lawrence Tynes to escape with a victory. And they didn't turn the ball over once against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, but they still scored just 17 points and were blown out at home. So if they're not turning the ball over and they're still losing games, there's gotta be another issue, or multiple issues, right?
10. Quarterback is not the biggest problem on the Eagles.
There are a lot of problems on the 2012 Eagles. A lot of them. The biggest issue is probably the coaching, and not just Reid. It's Marty Mornhinweg and his playcalling, offensive line coach Howard Mudd, and especially defensive line coach Jim Washburn and special teams coach Bobby April Sr. None of the coaches are getting the most out of their players. But the offensive line sure isn't helping, with two key starters out for the season. The defensive line is beyond awful, notably veterans Trent Cole, Jason Babin, and Cullen Jenkins. And the entire team seems unmotivated, undisciplined, and flat out unconcerned about its brutal start to the season. Benching Vick for Foles will not fix any of those problems. It'll just make the team worse.