The Philadelphia Eagles would be smart to sit Michael Vick for the remainder of this season. Vick is in the first season of a six-year, $100 million contract and there is no point for the Eagles to play him anymore in 2011.
The Eagles are 4-6 and two games back of the New York Giants in the NFC East. Even with the narrow 17-10 win over the Giants on Sunday Night Football, the Eagles still have a very slim chance of making the postseason. The Eagles need to do the right thing and rest Vick for the remainder of the year. It won’t be the popular choice and it won’t make Andy Reid well-regarded in the City of Brotherly Love.
However, the Eagles need to look beyond the last six games of this season. The Eagles need to look at 2012 and beyond, and that starts with sitting down their franchise quarterback.
Michael Vick has always been criticized for his inability to stay healthy, and this season has been no different. In nine games, Vick has sustained a concussion, a severe contusion on his throwing hand, a dislocated finger and a pair of cracked ribs.
He didn’t miss any time for the first three injuries, but missed Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants. Vick also suffered a rib injury early in last year against the Washington Redskins.
Given the style of football Vick plays, he cannot be effective when dealing with a rib injury. As much as he would hate to be referred to as a running quarterback, that’s essentially what Vick is. NBC’s Pro Football Talk criticized Vick for not playing through the rib injury, stating that Tony Romo did so earlier in the season. Vick and Romo also play entirely different styles of football, and Vick was extremely inefficient last week when he battled the injury.
Sitting him will allow him to enter 2012 healthy again. Much like Vick would get pulled if the Eagles were down 48-10 late in the fourth quarter, the same needs to happen in the season. Playing him can only risk a more permanent injury, and he has five more years of his contract to go.
Mike Kafka was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, with some scouts predicting he could go as high as the third round.
Kafka is a smart, savvy second-year quarterback. He isn’t blessed with all the tools physically, but he is an above-average runner and picks up the system quickly. The Philadelphia Eagles may be looking to do with Kafka exactly what they did with A.J. Feeley—sit him for a few years and then try to get something for him in a trade.
Andy Reid was able to get a second-round pick for Feeley, and Kafka projects to be an even better quarterback. If the Eagles play him a couple of times down the stretch and he does well, Reid could send him to a team like Miami or Washington for a draft pick.
I wonder if Vince Young’s final drive against the New York Giants will spark a mild quarterback controversy. Young looked poised, confident, cool, collected, and the result was a game-winning touchdown drive to save the Philadelphia Eagles season.
Considering Young was playing in his first extended action of 2011—and that he was going against a tough Giants defense—he did remarkably well. This was exactly why Andy Reid signed Young to be the backup.
It could be argued that Young isn’t that much of a dropoff from Vick. His skills aren’t as polished and he isn’t as dangerous of a runner, but as this was his first taste of playing time in a year, he did fine. And he led a big touchdown drive when it mattered the most, something Vick had been unable to do. I’m not suggesting the Eagles go with Young because he’s better than Vick, but why rush Vick back when Young is a capable backup quarterback?
The Philadelphia Eagles have a second-half schedule that doesn’t work favorably for Michael Vick. Next week’s game is against a tough New England Patriots team. The Eagles are 0-4 against the Patriots under Reid, and nothing about this year’s Eagles team suggests the Eagles should win that game.
Games against the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks are contests the Eagles should win regardless of who plays quarterback. The season follows with consecutive games against the Ryan brothers—first a home meeting with Rex Ryan of the New York Jets and then a road game against Rob Ryan of the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams will be gunning for Vick.
The year closes with a game against the Washington Redskins, one that will be meaningless for both teams.
If the Philadelphia Eagles continue to play Michael Vick, they will almost assuredly win more football games than they would with Vince Young or Mike Kafka.
There’s no point in sticking with Vick at quarterback to win a few meaningless games (although Andy Reid wants to save his job). If the Eagles end 8-8 instead of 4-12, they sacrifice about 10 selections in the draft. Finishing with a poor record means the Eagles get a high draft pick, a move they could then use on a linebacker or safety.
The Philadelphia Eagles just aren’t going to make the playoffs in 2011. It’s time for the team to start looking forward to the ’12 season.
History won’t see the Eagles missing the postseason due to lack of talent. The ability to win football games was there. After all, the Eagles are 8-1 when leading after three quarters. More so, it’s been the chemistry, lack of leadership, lack of focus and the sheer fact that this team couldn’t practice together for so many months during the NFL lockout.