Having lost their last three games, there are plenty of reasons for the Philadelphia Eagles to be afraid on the eve of Halloween. The New York Giants have already begun to separate themself from the rest of the NFC East and it now appears that the Eagles’ playoff hopes will require a wild-card berth. Michael Vick and Andy Reid have taken turns sharing the “hot seat” ever since the NFL season began, and these recent miscues certainly don’t help make their case.
However, with Philadelphia’s defense headed toward a new direction under Todd Bowles, the timing of a Reid firing or Vick benching would be a mistake that could prematurely end their season.
Although the team currently sits at 3-4, there are just nine points that separate the Eagles from a 5-2 record, or a completely winless start. Yes, parity has played that much of a role in 2012.
Early on, when Vick led the Eagles on game-winning drives for their three victories, many fans (myself included) believed that it was refreshing to see the team win these come-from-behind games and that it would build character later on. Of course, no one was happy with the lack of offensive production and the insane number of turnovers, but as long as it resulted in victory, complaining was difficult.
What I don’t understand is that since the Eagles are now on the losing end of these come-from-behind contests (think Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions), somehow Vick is to blame. Shouldn’t the responsibility of protecting a lead fall upon the shoulders of the defense and Reid’s play-calling?
But instead of focusing on the fact that the Eagles just dropped a stretch of three games where opponents were coming off their bye weeks, we should direct our attention to the next eight upcoming matchups—all of which are very winnable and can help turn Philadelphia's season around.
After a Monday night showdown against the New Orleans Saints, a team that is clouded by even more uncertainty than the Eagles, Philadelphia will face the injury-plagued Dallas Cowboys and the reeling Washington Redskins twice, as well as the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals. As a collective group, these teams have amassed a laughable 15-28 record, with none of them having more wins than losses.
If the Eagles are going to gain any momentum, it’s going to be within the next few weeks and it will have to be with Michael Vick as quarterback.
Backup rookie Nick Foles has been a popular candidate to replace Vick as the starter, but his preseason body of work against third-stringers and training camp bodies doesn’t compare to Vick’s 10 years of service.
With Philadelphia missing three starters along the offensive line, the best shot at victory is to keep a mobile player behind center and live with the results. Tampering with the team chemistry may cause an unnecessary rift in an already testy locker room.
Shortly after their loss to the Atlanta Falcons, DeSean Jackson voiced his support (via ESPN) for Vick by saying, “I think he's still an elite quarterback in this football league,” a sentiment that I’m sure many teammates would echo.
In the past, Philly’s shortcomings have been blamed on Vick’s inability to remain healthy. Now that he’s made it through the first eight weeks without being knocked out, it is no time to believe otherwise.
Because we saw how close the Eagles were to sneaking into the playoffs during 2011, giving up now would force a franchise of veteran players into an unprepared state of rebuilding. If Vick were to lose his job, many others would soon follow.
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