Vick Era Begins… Eagles Soaring?
By Lance Epstein
Over the past 24 hours, the Eagles have altered their future and present as they have anointed Michael Vick as the team’s starting quarterback.
Does that mean they are a better team right now and for the rest of the season? The simple and easy answer would be yes.
While Kevin Kolb still may become a very good NFL quarterback (and perhaps that is with the Eagles), he does not give the team the best chance to win now and for many reasons.
First and foremost, the Eagles offensive line is a mess. Center Mike McGlynn missed numerous blitz pick-ups and assignments in his first career start. Even if the Eagles shift guard Nick Cole over to center, it doesn’t make the line any better.
Last year, Cole struggled mightily and was manhandled in two games at the position because he is undersized to play the position. Also, recently acquired guard Reggie Wells is not ready yet to step in and start. He is still learning the offense and will need some time to comprehend the offense.
If Kolb were to play under center, he might not make it through the season and suffer a career ending injury. The Eagles offensive line has given up 12 sacks in two games and that could be more if not for Vick’s legs.
Second, Kolb has been struggling since the second week of the preseason. He is making mistakes left and right. Furthermore, he is telegraphing his throws and throwing off his backfoot far too often. He needs to get his mechanics and head straight before he can be expected to lead the Eagles or any NFL team.
Lastly, Vick has transformed from a running back playing quarterback to a quarterback that has breakaway speed in his back pocket. For the first time in Vick’s career, he looks like a NFL quarterback and not a running back that can throw a football from time-to-time.
Against the Lions, Vick threw for 284 yards and had 34 attempts. Those rank as his fourth most passing yards and fifth most attempts in a game. More importantly, his QB on the season is league best 105.5.
Vick’s arm strength has never been in question. In fact, his arm strength might be the best of any quarterback that has come out of college over the past ten years. His problem was very similar to former Eagle Donovan McNabb, which is lack of consistent accuracy.
For the Eagles, his ability to improve upon his accuracy and be a 60 percent or better passer will determine the Eagles fate. However, fans should not forget that the defense must step up as well. If the defense gives up 27 and 32 points every week then it will not matter what Vick does on offense.
Let’s see where the Eagles are in this week’s power rankings…
1. New Orleans Saints (Previous week: 1)
Monday night’s game against the Niners is the reason why it is so tough to repeat as champions. They are going to take everyone’s best shot. So far they are 2-0, but the offense and defense appears to have chinks in the armor.
2. Green Bay Packers (Previous week: 4)
After demolishing the Buffalo Bills 34-7 on Sunday, the Packers get a Monday night showdown with the 2-0 Chicago Bears. If the Packers dominate the Bears then they could be the team to beat in the NFL.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (Previous week: 9)
The Steelers are the most fascinating team in the entire NFL. They lose Big Ben to suspension for four weeks and then they lose their backup Dennis Dixon. Yet, they sit at 2-0 due to a ferocious defense. The Steelers should start off 3-0 since they play Tampa Bay in week three. The following week is the big test for the Steelers as they go up against Baltimore.
4. Houston Texans (Previous week: 8)
When some teams fall behind 27-7, they pack it up and take the road loss. The Texans showed maturity as they stormed back to win a game against the Redskins. Yes, they were lucky to win the game as a field goal was blocked that would have put the game out of reach. However, we said the same thing about the Saints last year…
5. Indianapolis Colts (Previous week: 5)
Was anyone really worried about the Colts after their 34-24 loss to the Texans? As long as Peyton Manning is quarterbacking the Colts, then they will be a contender. As long as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis continue to get pressure, the Colts can survive with a mediocre defense.
6. Miami Dolphins (Previous week: 12)
Yes, the Dolphins offense has looked horrendous the first two weeks of the season. (QB) Chad Henne and (WR) Brandon Marshall have not connected like they anticipated when the Dolphins traded for Marshall. However, it is only a matter of time. They have a giant showdown with the Jets this week. If the defense plays like they have been then they could be one of the few 3-0 teams.
7. New England Patriots (Previous week: 2)
Week one the Patriots looked liked the 2008 Patriots squad that went 18-1. This past week, the Patriots defense looked lost like last year. They allowed a struggling Mark Sanchez to throw three touchdown passes. The offense had three turnovers, but that is because of the Jets having a top-5 defense.
8. Baltimore Ravens (Previous week: 3)
There should be major cause for concern for the Ravens. Quarterback Joe Flacco has one touchdown pass and five interceptions so far this year. Additionally, (RB) Ray Rice is not the same player as last year. A major reason for his productivity being down is due to the poor playcalling by the Ravens. They have transformed from a smash-mouth, run the ball down your throat offense to a pass-happy offense. That needs to change if they expect to compete for a Super Bowl.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (Previous week: 14)
It was not pretty, but Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens to improve their record to 7-0 against the AFC North in their last seven games. The Bengals offense is still struggling and mainly cause running back Cedric Benson has tailed off. If Benson does not get going, the Bengals might look to the Bills for Marshawn Lynch.
10. New York Jets (Previous week: 16)
There is never a dull moment for the Jets. Whether it be the “Hard Knocks” show, Rex Ryan running his mouth or Braylon Edwards getting arrested for a DWI. On the field, they looked better in week two especially Mark Sanchez. Still, (RB) Shonn Greene continues to struggle and LT is not going to have a 6.3 yards per carry all year.
11. San Diego Chargers (Previous week: 12)
The Chargers apparently did not like losing to the Chiefs. They decided to take their anger out on the Jaguars. Phillip Rivers shined, but it was the defense who shutdown and took out Maurice Jones-Drew. That should be the huge story of the week especially after Jamaal Charles ran wild on their defense, but sadly, disgruntled wide receiver Vincent Jackson calling GM A.J. Smith “Lords of the Ringless,” is the hot topic.
12. Atlanta Falcons (Previous week: 17)
Finally, Matt Ryan showed his potential. Unfortunately, it came against a porous Cardinals team that has huge quarterback problems. Also, running back Michael Turner suffered a groin injury that could nag him for the rest of the year. Nevertheless Jason Snelling is a capable backup. Maybe this game gives Ryan confidence going forward.
13. Washington Redskins (Previous week: 15)
It is not often when a team loses that they move up in the rankings. However, Donovan McNabb showed the world something… that he is not done yet. He threw for 426 yards, but more importantly he did it with a bunch of average receivers, a below average offensive line and a good tight end in Chris Cooley. Right now the Redskins have to look like the early favorite for the NFC East champions.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (Previous week: 18)
It was not pretty, but the Eagles hung on. The defense looked good for most of the game until the last six minutes. That said the Eagles get Stewart Bradley back for this weekend’s game against the Jaguars. While everyone is hyping the Vick and Kolb situation, the single most important move this week is getting Bradley back on the field.
15. New York Giants (previous week: 7)
Three straight NFC East teams in the middle of the rankings. That tells you just how far the conference has fallen since last year. The Giants looked like the team to beat in week one. Then they got rocked in week two. Furthermore, running back Brandon Jacobs is throwing helmets into the stands and Antrel Rolle is airing out his concerns through the media.
16. Tennessee Titans (Previous week: 11)
Once again the Titans and Vince Young find themselves in a precarious position. Young was atrocious against an excellent Steelers defense. Kerry Collins moved the ball effectively and nearly tied the game for the Titans in the fourth quarter. The Titans like the Eagles need to find out whether their young quarterback is the future or not.
17. Chicago Bears (Previous week: 22)
The Bears might be the hardest team to figure out. First they shouldn’t be 2-0. Yet that is where they sit. The Lions game was supposed to be the easy game and the Cowboys game was supposed to be the hard one. However, they made beating the Cowboys look easy and beating the Lions look hard. If their offensive line holds up, they might sneak into the playoffs.
18. Minnesota Vikings (Previous week: 6)
Should the Vikings be higher on this list? Probably, but every team ahead of them could probably beat them right now. Adrian Peterson looks good, but the rest of the offense doesn’t. The defense is doing what it always has, but Brett Favre is once again turnover machine. Moreover, they might have lost their second starting wide receiver Percy Harvin to a hip injury.
19. Dallas Cowboys (Previous week: 10)
It is amazing to think that everyone was on the Cowboys bandwagon two weeks ago. Now, everyone is questioning whether they can even make the playoffs. People can blame Tony Romo, but his offensive line has been one of the worst in the league. Additionally, that fierce defense does not look the same as last year.
20. Kansas City Chiefs (Previous week: 20)
How does a 2-0 team not move up one spot in the power rankings? Easily, you struggle to beat the worst team in football in the Browns. Give credit to the Chiefs, they are sitting pretty at 2-0 and lead the division. Sadly, they are more likely to fall then win the division.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Previous week: 25)
In a bit of an upset, the Buccaneers beat the Panthers. Many predicted the Bucs to finish in last place in the AFC South, but that honor might go to the Panthers. Josh Freeman looked very good against the Panthers, but he has a much bigger task against the Steelers this upcoming week.
22. San Francisco 49ers (Previous week: 26)
Even though the 49ers sit at 0-2, they easily could be 1-1 right now. The Saints barely escaped with a victory against them. Furthermore, Alex Smith looked like a capable NFL quarterback. Words of advice to Mike Singletary though, use the red zone matchup problem that is Michael Crabtree. There as reason you drafted him.
23. Denver Broncos (Previous week: 24)
The rookie made an impact against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. No not Tim Tebow. Wide receiver Darmaryius Thomas dazzled in his debut as he scored a touchdown and caught eight balls for 97 yards.
24. Seattle Seahawks (Previous week: 19)
An impressive week one performance followed by a huge let down game against the Broncos. The Seahawks are going to struggle this year on the road, but are a very dangerous home team. If they can squeak out two wins on the road and go 7-1 at home they might get into the postseason as a wildcard.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (Previous week: 23)
The Jaguars went out west and they were awful. The Chargers shut down MJD and made David Garrard look like a rookie. Jack Del Rio is squarely on the hot seat and it is not looking good right now.
26. Oakland Raiders (Previous week: 28)
The Kevin Kolb Era is not the only era to end this week. The Jason Campbell experiment might be over as well. Nonetheless, running back Darren McFadden has finally looked like the top-10 pick the Raiders thought he was when they selected him. Michael Bush is coming back, but he might have already lost the starting gig.
27. Detroit Lions (Previous week: 29)
The Lions should be 1-1 right now. Heck, they nearly came back against the Eagles and could have been 2-0. While they have not won a game, they are going to shock some teams. They have some good talent especially on offense. This team is better than their 0-2 record indicates.
28. Arizona Cardinals (Previous week: 21)
Maybe letting go of quarterback Matt Leinart was a mistake. Or maybe thinking Derek Anderson was the answer to your prayers at quarterback was the mistake. Either way rookie Max Hall should see playing time to gauge whether he is the real deal.
29. St. Louis Rams (Previous week: 30)
Realistically, the Rams are better than the Cardinals. If not for a Steve Breaston miracle strip, they are 1-1 and the Cardinals are 0-2. Sam Bradford’s struggles right now will only benefit him as the season goes on. Expect the Rams to be a formidable team over the next couple years.
30. Carolina Panthers (Previous week: 24)
Let me get this straight, you got on a hot streak at the end of last year after running back DeAnglo Williams went down with an injury and Jonathan Stewart took over carrying the rock. Yet Williams is the one as the featured back this year. It might be time for the Panthers to rethink that decision.
31. Buffalo Bills (previous week: 31)
It is going to be a long season for the Buffalo Bills, why make it longer on yourself by holding on to (RB) Marshawn Lynch and getting nothing for him. Make the deal and get the draft pick this team desperately needs.
32. Cleveland Browns (Previous week: 32)
For the third consecutive week in a row, the Browns are the worst team in football. The Browns have a chance to compete with the Lions for the worst record of all time. Nothing is going right for the city of Cleveland.