As the Eagles prepare for their second matchup of the season with the New York Giants, Chip Kelly is once again left with a question at the quarterback position.
Michael Vick said on Tuesday that he is "optimistic" that he will play, but Kelly is still taking things day by day. Kelly praised his Vick's toughness, but also admitted that it sometimes backfires on his gritty signal-caller.
"With Mike, that's one of his truly good qualities and maybe a truly bad quality at times," Kelly said on Wednesday morning. "When you see him in the Redskins game trying to lead block on a play - you want a quarterback with that mentality obviously, and I think he's done a better job from a decision-making standpoint with that."
The fact that Vick has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that was the result of avoiding a big hit is what makes it "frustrating" for the quarterback.
"He runs out of bounds and does what he's supposed to do and he hurts his hamstring, where I know that probably in the back of his mind he's like, 'If I had just run that guy over, I wouldn't have hurt my hamstring,'" Kelly said. "I don't think he's taking the hits and he's really been conscious of that, trying to get down and trying to do things the right way, but I think that's a little bit frustrating for him. But in terms of Mike's toughness, I think it's a quality in all quarterbacks that is highly underrated. … That's a quality that Mike has and I think that's what makes him a special player."
Something else that makes Vick a special player is his ability to use his legs when the play breaks down, a feature that was on full display against the Giants back in Week 5. Prior to exiting the game, Vick amassed close to 80 rushing yards, 34 of which came on a third-and 20 play on the Eagles' second drive. Vick helped shoulder the load for LeSean McCoy, who was held to a season-low 46 rushing yards in the game, and Kelly believes that other players have to step up as Vick did if one facet of the offense isn't clicking.
"It just depends on what you're going to do (defensively)," Kelly explained. "I know that Mike ran for 79 yards in a quarter and a half. I think you can devote what you want to do to try to take one guy away, and if that be the case, then other guys have to step up. Obviously DeSean (Jackson) had a good performance out wide. If you're going to play man coverage and try to contain us in the box, then other guys have to contribute in terms of being able to help and uncover some things."
Even though McCoy was contained, Kelly noted that the All-Pro running back was still oh, so close to breaking off big runs.
"There were a couple of runs where LeSean hit it and came out the other side and was one guy away from making it into a really, really big play," Kelly said. "It's a game in terms of we need to execute a little bit better in the run game, obviously, but I fell like if you're going to try to gang up on one aspect then we need to be able to lean on another aspect for us to be successful offensively."
According to the Eagles head coach, part of the reason why the Giants were so tough to run against was the big bodies that have up front, which will once again pose a challenge for the Eagles offensive line.
"I just think that you have four big bodies inside that aren't what we normally see in this league," said Kelly. "Shaun Rogers, he's a big dude now - a big dude that can run. Pat Shurmur said that he looks the state of Rhode Island out there when you look at the tape. The one thing that impresses you with him is how athletic he is. Some guys in those situations, you're like, 'All right, he's big and physical, but you can get around him and move him.' I was really impressed when I saw him in action-he's a big athlete that can move."
For the first time as an NFL head coach, Kelly will play a team for a second time in the same season, which Kelly finds to have both pros and cons. Kelly said that coaches can second guess themselves all that they want in these situations, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to execution.
"I think that you can stay up late at night going, 'They did this last game, and then we did this, and they know that we did this, so we need to change because we think that they're going to do that,' but they're saying the same room saying the same exact thing," Kelly explained. "You end up not sleeping the second time that you play somebody. Basically, what it's going to come down to is that we're going to do what we do and they're going to do what they do."
One of the positives in preparing for a team the second time is that you have already done your homework on the opponent's personnel.
"They're a little bit different, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with the addition of Jon Beason at linebacker, who wasn't there when we played them last time. Linval Joseph didn't play against us, so they've got a couple of new parts in there, but their defense is going to be very similar to what we saw three weeks ago. Our offense is going to be very similar to what they saw… It's going to be similar, but I think it's going to be, 'Who executes the best?'
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