FOXBOROUGH, Mass --In a scene we have seen so often, there was Michael Vick, on one knee after taking a huge shot in the ribs from defensive end Jermaine Cunningham just six offensive snaps into his night.
In the end, as you know, Vick was taken to the locker room for X rays, which were negative. He's sore, but he's going to be OK. He will be under center when the Eagles open the regular season in Cleveland on September 9, and, well, we'll keep our fingers crossed.
Vick's preseason has been, to put it mildly, unsettling. He has thrown all of seven passes, completing four. He has been on the field for 12 snaps, total. At no time during those 12 snaps did the offense show the required timing and precision and production.
Let's hope a couple of good weeks of practice fine tune things and heal Vick and make things right for the offense. Vick will have some follow up tests on Tuesday and if they come back clean, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg may just cover him in bubble wrap and preserve him until the regular season begins.
After that, though, there is no way to hide Vick, who very much has a target on his chest, and his legs and every other part of his body. Defenses are instructed to hit No. 7 if there is any chance he can keep a play alive, which clearly Vick wants to do. Any thought that he would change his style and become a throw-it-away quarterback seems to have disappeared in the opening two preseason games when he was KO'd from action after only a couple of series.
The Eagles are going to have to hope that Vick, playing the kind of quarterback that has garnered him a lot of wins and highlights over the years, catches some luck and stays on the field over the course of 16 games for the second time in his career.
In the meantime, though, they have to pull double duty and make sure they are prepared for a significant Vick injury. Boy, I wish Vick stays healthy. I love the guy. I think he's turned his life around and I love the way the team has rallied around him and I think he can win a Super Bowl here. I just don't know that he can stay healthy, because he's off to a pretty discouraging start in this preseason.
Against Pittsburgh, Vick scared the beejesus out of everyone when his left (throwing) thumb knocked into the helmet of center Jason Kelce. Fortunately, it was just a jam and Vick missed nary a snap in practice. In Monday night's 27-17 win over New England, Vick dropped back to pass and, as Evan Mathis missed his block on defensive tackle Kyle Love, the quarterback rolled back to his right and immediately encountered Cunningham, who busted through a double team of Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans.
Now, whether Vick had time to go into the fetal position and hit the ground is debatable. He felt he could wind up, though, exposing his mid section, and throw the ball deep just as Cunningham crashed into Vick's rib area.
Ouch. The hit knocked the collective wind out of Eagles fans everywhere and left Vick wobbly, in pain, and ultimately knocked him out of the game. Reid said later that Vick asked to return to action, which is encouraging and all, but besides the point.
Can Michael Vick stay healthy? And if not ...
What emerged from Monday's game was another bravo performance from rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who came in on short notice and completed 18 of 28 passes for 217 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Foles made all the throws, save the pick he tossed on an underthrown attempt in the direction of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin near the end zone.
The kid looked great, again. He now has 4 touchdown passes and only one interception in a couple of preseason games and nobody can recall an Eagles rookie quarterback ever, ever coming in and having a pair of preseason games like this.
Even Reid, asked after the game, could say that Donovan McNabb or A.J. Feeley or Kevin Kolb did what Foles has done in his first two preseason games.
Foles, then, is off to a good start. Trent Edwards played decent in the fourth quarter and put some points on the board and should get more playing time in the last two preseason games. While Reid did not rule out some playing time prior to the Browns game in September, it seems hard to imagine that No. 7 will play again prior to the opener.
And if that's the case, well, hmmm. Vick has thrown just seven passes in the preseason, completing four.
It's easily the most confounding and unsettled the position has been since Reid took over in 1999, what wiith Vick battling injuries and the projected No. 2 man, Mike Kafka, sidelined with a broken left hand. The rook, Foles, is coming on strong and wowing everyone with his poise and his intelligence and the game he plays from within and even outside the pocket. That touchdown throw he had to tight end Clay Harbor when he rolled right, had defensive end Cunningham bearing down on him and stuck a corner throw for a score was as good a pass as you will see from anywhere on the field.
In a later touchdown drive, Foles threw an outside pass for a strike, went down the right hash for another big gain, threw with some loft and touch to Brent Celek and then layed a perfect pass to Harbor for another score against a linebacker gasping in coverage.
In two games, Foles has shown it all and Vick has been a huge injury concern.
Hey, there are two weeks to go before the regular season starts. The Eagles are going to practice hard and get the offense on the same page. Vick will be there, working on his game and hoping to find the groove. And he will be the center of attention in Cleveland as the team's starting quarterback.
How long that lasts is the big, looming question, one the coaching staff must confront and prepare for, however they are able to accomplish so much in so little time.
OBSERVATIONS FROM WIN OVER NEW ENGLAND
- Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was terrific, opening by stuffing a Patriots screen pass on New England's first possession.
- The Eagles committed 16 penalties for 131 yards and, yeah, the replacement refs were not good, but neither were the Eagles.
- Phillip Hunt had another dominating game off the edge, and he and Cedric Thornton are two of the most improved players on the roster.
- Add tight end Clay Harbor to that mix. He had 6 catches and a pair of touchdowns.
- It was good to see DeSean Jackson get involved with 4 receptions for 82 yards.
- The offensive line is still not playing up to its expected standards, and it's not because of King Dunlap at left tackle. He did a very good job working againist New England first-round draft pick Chandler Jones. Dunlap was called for a false start that he didn't commit, but he was solid at left tackle. Demetress Bell had a couple of penalties whistled against him when he played in the second half.
- Running back Bryce Brown gained 51 yards on 9 carries, including a 27-yard pickup, and he had a 10-yard gain nullified by a holding penalty.
- All Chad Hall does is go out and catch everything thrown his way. He had 3 receptions, including a pretty diving grab off a Trent Edwards pass. Still, I think Damaris Johnson has the edge over Hall to make the roster at this point because of his return-game skills.
- Nate Allen had a good game at safety and was a sure tackler at the point of attack.
- I love the way this defensive line plays. Cullen Jenkins opened the game at left end, with first-round pick Fletcher Cox at tackle. Cox is going to be special. Mark my words on that one. It may not yet show up in the stats, but it will soon enough. The kid gets off the ball so fast and is extremely powerful.
- Stanley Havili had a nice 14-yard run on an inside trap play and solidified his roster standing.
- Both Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were outstanding in coverage down the field, as was cornerback Curtis Marsh.
- The game took 3 hours, 15 minutes to complete. There were 23 penalties called on both teams for a total of 191 lost yards. Ridiculous.
- The Eagles were 3 of 5 in the red zone, which is something to keep an eye on offensively. The defense had a stop in two New England trips inside the Eagles' 20-yard line.