Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.
It’s a common belief that, no matter the magnitude, one loss only counts as one loss. For the Eagles, yesterday’s debacle in Arizona counts as a lot, lot more. Through the first two weeks of the 2012 season, the Eagles had overcome seemingly unsustainable misfortune, stumbling clumsily to a hollow 2-0 record. After Michael Vick led the way to a go-ahead touchdown on the final drive against Baltimore, Philadelphia fans were inspired to believe that, beneath the disorganization, carelessness and chaos, a Super Bowl contender laid dormant. After 3 weeks, the sample size is now large enough to draw some conclusions that would point to the contrary.
Michael Vick is no longer a starting caliber NFL quarterback.
It’s been the source of a sense of dread that most Eagles fans have felt but explained away for over a year now, watching Michael Vick lead this offense. The entertaining highlights and reputation that accompany a player like Vick have gone a long way to mask a disturbing trend that has surfaced during his tenure with Philly. This most glaring fact that Eagles fans must come to terms with is that Michael Vick is no longer a good player.
This honestly isn’t an arguable fact (it’s not a fact, it’s an opinion, and it is arguable, -spike) but for those who choose to disregard what their eyes are telling them, consider this: Michael Vick is currently the 29th rated quarterback in the NFL. He is rated behind Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jake Locker, all of whom are considered to be the biggest reason their respective teams are not a threat to win a super bowl. Additionally, Michael Vick has led the league in turnovers since the start of the 2011 season.
This is important because the biggest difference between a starting quarterback and his potential replacement is his tendency to turn the ball over. It is absolutely reasonable to assume that Nick Foles, Trent Edwards, or even Mike Kafka could give the Eagles more efficient quarterback play. Thus, a strong argument can be made that Michael Vick is no longer above his replacement level.
We have seen the best Andy Reid has to offer.
When a band releases their first “Greatest Hits” album, it’s pretty much a lock that their best work is behind them. In 2004, Andy Reid released his last platinum record. We saw the most successful manifestation of his “plan” for the Eagles and it just wasn’t good enough. That’s not to say that Andy Reid cannot be successful or even show some glimpses of the brilliance he once possessed, but to expect a return to that level on a consistent basis is unrealistic at this point.
With that in mind, one question looms over Philadelphia. What are the Eagles doing? On one hand, you have a coach whose sole focus should be on finishing with a record “substantially better” than 8-8. Thus, the notion of benching the irresponsible Michael Vick in lieu of an unproven commodity like Nick Foles is inert. Andy Reid has no choice in the matter. Making a change at quarterback is tantamount to handing in his resignation.
On the other hand, you have a quarterback who is rapidly declining in an offense that demands more from him than ever before. As the season drags on, this volatile situation is going to become toxic. While the coach is trying desperately to salvage the present and the quarterback struggles to hold onto his past, fans will begin to realize that what matters most is the team’s future; a future that does not include either.
The Philadelphia Eagles CANNOT win the Super Bowl.
On the last snap of the first half, Sunday, Michael Vick rolled to the right, straight into oncoming pressure, and was strip-sacked from behind. The ball was picked up by the Cardinals and returned, with zero seconds remaining on the clock, for a game breaking touchdown. This is damning in a few respects. For one, this is a play the Eagles have seen many times at the goal line in since 2010. A similar defensive play call was employed just last week when Vick almost fumbled his team to their first loss of the season.
To think that, not only has the team made no discernible progress in dealing with this situation, but they seem to have gotten worse is nonsensical. Whether this is a failure of the coaches to make adjustments or the quarterback’s limited understanding of opposing defenses, the results on the field speak for themselves.
Another troubling part of this play was the fact that Vick held the ball until the clock ran out. At the 1-yard line, with a deafening crowd, when the best weapon on your team is a running back, the only justification for throwing the football is keeping the possibility of a field goal open. When Vick held the ball so long, he ensured that the only advantage to keeping it out of Lesean Mccoy’s hands was eliminated. This is the type of lazy, sloppy, irresponsible behavior has spread through the team like a fungus in recent years.
This brings a larger point to light. In a league where the talent has become so evenly distributed; where parity is rampant, what separates good teams from championship teams is their attention to detail, preparation, in-game adjustments and situational football. The Eagles have proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they are lacking in all of these areas.
Regardless of the outcome, the Eagles have entered every single one of their first three games unprepared. The offense has been maddeningly slow to adjust to opposing defensive schemes. The Eagles do not pay attention to detail, they do not play situational football, how can they be legitimate super bowl contenders?
While many will be hiding behind the hackneyed drivel that is “it’s just one game,” I urge you to understand something. When you claim that the Eagles can contend for a super bowl, you are arguing against all available evidence. There is nothing that the Philadelphia Eagles have shown to indicate that they are capable of being as consistent and efficient as a world champion needs to be.
Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This may be the 19th time in three seasons that this Eagles team has shown us who they are. Can we please, at long last, believe them?