Eagles Can Dump Michael Vick for Nick Foles, but O-Line Spells Doom Either Way
There is a supposed quarterback controversy brewing for the Philadelphia Eagles between Michael Vick and rookie Nick Foles, but it won't matter who is under center considering just how horrible the offensive line has been all season.
The main reason Foles is being considered by head coach Andy Reid is Vick's struggles through the first seven games of the season. He's only completing 58 percent of his passes and has thrown nine interceptions and lost five fumbles.
Foles, a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of Arizona, won't do much better behind the horrendous offensive line. In fact, he may do worse, as Vick at least has the ability to quickly escape defenders thanks to his superior athleticism.
The offensive line has allowed Vick to be sacked 27 times—only two quarterbacks in the league have been sacked more. Consistent pressure from opposing defenses has certainly led to some of Vick's massive number of turnovers, and he's been at serious injury risk all season.
Injuries have devastated the line in Philadelphia, beginning with losing tackle Jason Peters to an Achilles injury. The most recent injury came on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, when tackle Todd Herremans went down with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
Demetress Bell entered for Herremans, but he and others, such as Danny Watkins, have struggled mightily all season long, particularly in pass protection.
According to ProFootballFocus, the Eagles line graded out as the No. 20-ranked line in the NFL after Week 7 (that ranking couldn't have got any better after Vick was sacked seven times against the Saints on Monday). The unit came in at No. 28 in terms of pass-blocking and No. 25 in terms of penalties. In fact, the only good aspect of the Eagles line, run-blocking, graded as exceptional at No. 4 overall.
The grades above ring true any time the Eagles take the field, and especially on the stat sheet. The Eagles are No. 10 in the league in terms of rushing yards, averaging 130.6 per game. Star running back LeSean McCoy has had a great season with over 600 rushing yards and five total scores.
When examining the passing game, the aforementioned issues stand out. There seemingly hasn't been a play this season during which Vick wasn't under some kind of pressure, and one has to wonder how well he would be playing with Peters and a healthy line intact.
Despite the woes on the line, the Eagles front office failed to make any moves before the trade deadline that would at the very least have provided some quality depth for the unit.
As of now, the best player on the line is left guard Evan Mathis, but he cannot hold the entirety of the line up on his own, especially when the tackles repeatedly give up pressure off the edges.
Of course, the line might not be as bad as it stands currently if Reid hadn't elected to make the offensive so one-dimensional. Historically, Reid neglects running the ball, instead opting to force-feed the passing game.
Reid's tendencies in the past may explain why opposing defenses are always so prepared to rush Vick and have actually given up a large number of rushing yards in return. The running game is working for the offensive line, but Reid is still electing to pass more often than not.
There's not a quick fix for the offensive line in Philadelphia. A quarterback change certainly won't alter things for the better.
If Reid elects to throw a rookie into the flames behind a porous offensive line in an effort to save his job, he'll only give the front office more ammunition to fire him.
Vick hasn't been outstanding for the Eagles in 2012, but the real spotlight should be on the losing battle the Eagles are fighting in the trenches.
Until Philadelphia finally decides to address the problem area, Vick, Foles or whomever the staff elects to throw under center will struggle in a big way.
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