It was certainly no surprise on Wednesday that Andy Reid confirmed that Michael Vick would start in New Orleans. The veteran quarterback has worked hard on his game and has cut down on the turnovers and the mistakes and, quite frankly, moved the offense pretty well in Sunday's loss to the Falcons.
The bigger story is the offense in general and how it needs to really take the next positive steps to beat a Saints team that is extremely capable of putting big-time points on the scoreboard. It would surprise nobody, other than both defensive coordinators, if Monday's game turned into an offensive showcase. Both groups have explosive weapons and the threat to score from anywhere on the field.
For the Eagles, Monday night's game represents another chance to snychronize the offense and to give Vick multiple options within the structure of the scheme. It's a big stage, of course, with so much riding on the game that marks the season's midway point on the road in a hostile environment.
Getting to 4-4 would be huge, gigantic, with the meat the NFC East shedule ahead (5 of the final 8 games come against divisional opponents).
As the Eagles get back to work on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex, they'll do so with a great sense of purpose. They have a three-game losing streak to put to an end, and there is no better time for Vick to put it all together than on Monday night in New Orleans, with a national audience watching and a league of peers keeping an eye on the Eagles and on Vick.
It isn't just Vick who needs to step forward for this offense, of course, and that's why Reid is sticking with No. 7. The head coach, and the team, believes in Vick, who is as dedicated as they come on and off the football field. Vick has thrown just two interceptions in his most recent 185 passes. He's seeing the blitz much better. Step by step ...
Of course, this is a team effort. Everything needs to improve for the Eagles to get this offense to where it needs to be. With Reid's confirmation of what everyone kind of suspected all week, the cloud of secrecy is lifted at the quarterback position. Vick is the guy. There will be no parade of reporters stopping by his locker this week asking "What if?" questions.
No, the focus is on defeating the Saints, and nothing more. Nobody around the NovaCare Complex is thinking beyond the Bayou and the test that the Saints present.
You look at the statistics and see that New Orleans is ranked 32nd in the league in defense and shrug. It means nothing. What value are statistics when the game begins? Then it's execution and scheme and a lucky bounce or two.
So the focus is going to be on Vick and the progress the offense makes. Do the Eagles come out and try to stretch the field against a defense that has given up a lot of big plays down the field? Or do the Eagles make sure LeSean McCoy gets his touches early and look to establish the running game?
On Sunday, in the blustery Lincoln Financial Field conditions, the Ealges went more with a controlled passing game, looking underneath and not daring the wind to alter any long throws. Given the cirumstances -- the Falcons jumped to an early lead and controlled the football -- Vick's offense didn't have a lot of opportunities to expand the offense and shed the early-season inconsistencies.
So Monday is another chance, a great moment to shine. The game is a biggie, and Vick is going to be the pilot of the offense, one that is poised to make the necessary leap to where it needs to be, where we all expect it to be. A lot of factors go into play here -- the performance of the offensive line, the game plan, the receivers and backs -- and everyone needs to elevate his performance.
The game can't get here fast enough, right? It's time to wipe away the taste of Sunday's game and get back to winning ways for this football team, with Vick leading the way.