When Michael Vick went down with an injury in the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 8 contest against the New York Giants, the Eagles' playoff hopes went right down with him. If Vick misses an extended period of time, then Philadelphia simply won't have the firepower to win the NFC East.
Vick wasn't great in limited Week 8 action, completing just six of his nine passes for 31 yards and an interception. He rushed just once for one yard, and it was on that play that he was visibly hurting.
Prior to Week 8, though, Vick had been enjoying a solid season, having completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 1185 yards in five games. He was also leading the NFL with 9.0 yards per attempt in the air and 16.7 yards per completion. On the ground, Vick had carried the ball 33 times for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
His ability to kill teams both through the air and on the ground is what makes him so valuable to Chip Kelly's offense. Without him, the Eagles will struggle to find balance offensively.
Nick Foles missed Week 8 with a head injury, so rookie Matt Barkley became the team's signal-caller as a result of Vick's injury. In his lone action of the season in Week 7, Barkley threw three interceptions and showed that he simply wasn't ready to lead an NFL offense.
Foles is clearly the better option under center in Vick's absence, but it may be a few weeks before he's ready to get back to the field. Barkley will have to step up in both of their absences, but he simply won't be good enough to win games.
The Eagles face off against the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in the next three weeks, and aside from the Raiders, the team will struggle mightily—especially with Barkley under center.
He doesn't have much chemistry with his wide receivers because he hasn't taken many first-team reps with them in training camp and practice. Rookie quarterbacks generally can't be relied upon to make big plays, and Kelly's offense focuses on working quickly and catching defenses napping. If Barkley can't effectively run that type of offense, then it's obvious that the Eagles will struggle.
The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and even the New York Giants (shockingly) are all players in the NFC East. The Eagles would be if Vick or Foles were under center, but Vick is by far the better option.
Unless Barkley matures rapidly, Philadelphia will struggle until Vick returns—something that could cost it the chance at the division title.