Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid Already "McNabbing" Michael Vick
When Andy Reid starts to really trust his quarterback, things get worse, not better, for the Philadelphia Eagles.
We saw it with Donovan McNabb for 11 years. The entire offense was put on his back. If he didn't have a good game, there was almost no chance the team was going to win.
He had no running game to support him and nothing but predictable play-calling coming from the sidelines.
But when he went down, the play-calling became much more balanced and less predictable. Key examples would be 2002 and 2006. With Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley running the show in '02, Duce Staley, Dorsey Levens and Brian Westbrook saw an increase in carries.
Reid didn't trust Detmer and Feeley as much as he trusted McNabb, so he looked to other players to step up and help carry the offense.
In 2006, Reid didn't trust Jeff Garcia as much as he did McNabb, so the running game got a huge boost simply by feeding it more touches.
The result in both of those instances was a division title and playoff berth.
But once McNabb was back under center, Reid went right back to his old ways. The team went back to passing 70 percent of the time and relying solely on McNabb to make plays.
Slowly but surely, we're seeing that now with Michael Vick.
In games Kevin Kolb has started versus games Vick has started (not including the Packers or Redskins game in which both quarterbacks played), Reid is calling on average two or three more running plays per game. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's two or three times that Vick is not in harm's way.
It also shows that Reid really does have confidence in Kolb since he's not running enough with him in the game either, but it shows he likes Vick even more.
Reid has become enamored with Vick the way he fell in love with McNabb, and he feels like he can pass all game long and they'll be just fine.
In that sense, he's probably right. McNabb did just fine without a ton of support from the play-calling, and Vick likely will, too, but a balanced attack to supplement great quarterbacks is what wins Super Bowls.
Which is precisely why Reid and McNabb were never able to do it.
The play-calling was decent all season long up until the Giants game. Reid and Marty Mornhinweg didn't even pretend to do anything but pass. Most of the time Vick was in the shotgun either in an empty set or with LeSean McCoy a good yard ahead of him.
It's not difficult to pick up that when McCoy is ahead of Vick, he's pass blocking or releasing.
This allowed the Giants to pin their ears back and come after Vick. That's why even after the best performance of the year from the offensive line, Vick was still sacked three times. The Giants didn't fear the run game and always knew exactly when it was coming (especially since Reid and Marty called four play-action passes in a row before establishing any running game).
Reid finally has a kid in McCoy who is everything Brian Westbrook was and more. He has much better field vision, has much better balance, is a better runner in the open field and has the makings of someone who could be the best running back the Eagles franchise has ever seen.
Not to mention Jerome Harrison, who nearly broke Adrian Peterson's single-game rushing mark at the end of last season and went over 100 yards on only 11 carries against the Redskins this year.
Still, Reid refuses to use either back as much as he should and will continue to put the burden on Vick's shoulders. It could very well result in a division title and a trip to the playoffs, but play-calling like we saw against the Giants will never win this team a Super Bowl.
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