Benching Michael Vick Not Likely the Solution, but Eagles Have Little to Lose

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 29, 2012

Sept. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) and quarterback Michael Vick (7) during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 27 - 6. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE
Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Vick was hardly the main problem in the Philadelphia Eagles' loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Vick didn't turn it over once, and the defense surrendered 30 points. 

Yet Vick also wasn't the solution, averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt and failing to lift his desperate team in front of a home crowd. 

Now, with the Eagles 3-4 and on the brink of collapse, there should be nothing Andy Reid and the coaching staff rules out in an attempt to save the do-or-die 2012 season. And with Reid's job on the line and Juan Castillo already out, there's little reason to believe Reid won't continue to make significant changes in order to give the team a jolt.

They have the talent in most spots, and they're good enough to win despite shoddy pass protection. They really are. The problem with the Eagles is mental more than it is physical. What's killed this team is a lack of focus, a lack of inspiration. 

Vick suggested after Sunday's loss that a quarterback swap was something Reid was considering, which only confirmed what had been suspected for several weeks. Reports are swirling, but nothing's been announced.

Those in support of Vick might argue that the Eagles were much better during the second half of the season last year after sticking with their struggling franchise quarterback, but I think there's something about what rookie backup Nick Foles did during the preseason that has some believing he might be able to provide that aforementioned jolt. 

If rookies like Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson were able to step in and succeed from the very start of the year on teams that are less talented than Philadelphia, who's to say Foles can't generate enough of a spark to help Philly recover and sneak into the playoffs?

They might not be a Super Bowl team with a third-round rook under center, but it's becoming apparent that they aren't a Super Bowl team with Vick there anyway. A move to Foles could help enough psychologically and otherwise to increase their odds of making that playoff cut, which would, in turn, increase Reid's odds of sticking around for the 2013 season.

Some Eagles fans might not want to see Reid on the sideline next year anyway, but progress would be welcomed. And with this team 11-12 since a makeover in the summer of 2011, it's obvious it's running on a treadmill. 

I wrote three weeks ago that I thought the Eagles should sink or swim with Vick, but they've since continued to sink at such a rate that I no longer even view them as Super Bowl contenders. My rational was that rookie quarterbacks don't win Super Bowls. But nowadays, rookie quarterbacks do win playoff games, so maybe the objectives and expectations have to be adjusted on the fly. 

If that's going to happen and they're going to roll those dice, I believe this is the perfect time. I think Reid wanted the experienced Vick to start against the unbeaten Falcons, but the Eagles face a series of weak defenses between now and Week 13.

If they install Foles as the starter now, he'll have an extra 24 hours to prepare for the soft Saints defense on Monday night before matchups with Dallas, Washington and Carolina. None of those defenses rank higher than 15th in terms of points allowed, and only the Panthers rank higher than 20th in sacks. 

Again, this isn't all on Vick. He'd be somewhat of a scapegoat on the bench, but Philadelphia has to be desperate enough to tap into all of the potential sources of inspiration on the depth chart. That should also mean giving Brandon Graham starting reps and seeing if reserve offensive linemen like Nate Menkin and Matt Tennant are diamonds in the rough. 

The Eagles might have to break up with Vick, at least temporarily, and Reid wouldn't be lying if he borrowed a line from George Costanza

"It's not you, it's me."