A favorable defensive scheme
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Let's set the scene. The Eagles have gotten the Kevin Kolb era off to a bad start. An early 3-0 lead quickly turns into a 20-3 deficit. Near the end of the first half, Kolb is slammed head first into the ground by Clay Matthews as he tries to scramble. When the Eagles return from the locker room after halftime, Michael Vick has taken over at quarterback.
This was not a benching of Kolb, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Andy Reid is still the Eagles head coach, and he's resisted dozens of calls for the benching of Donovan McNabb over the past decade. And it's not expected that Kolb will be benched over his poor first half performance either. But have the Eagles made the right decision? While Kolb looked awful in the first half, Vick rallied them in the second half to pull within seven points.
Vick ended up throwing 24 pass attempts, which is the most he's thrown in a game since December 16, 2006. But what sparked the Eagles was his 103 rushing yards, which began with a 23 yard run on the first play of the second half. He can still run, and can still run away from defenders. And he's still got a strong throwing arm, which he showed off on a rocket pass to the sidelines for a completion. But he also showed his trademark inconsistency when he one-hopped a couple of pass attempts. He played just over one half and totaled an impressive 278 yards from scrimmage. Is that good enough to be named the starter?
While he still has the electrifying talent that he showed us during his first six NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, he also had the advantage of playing against a defense that wasn't expecting to see him playing quarterback. Various Packer players and coaches admitted that they had practiced with the expectation that Vick would play several snaps in a wildcat formation, but most of their game planning was done believing that the relatively immobile Kolb would be the primary quarterback. When Vick played for the Falcons, teams would routinely keep a linebacker assigned as a spy to follow his every move and try and limit his ability to run. The Packers had not prepared for this because no spy is needed to follow around Kolb. Once Vick evaded the initial Packer pass rush, he often found empty green space as the Packers man coverage schemes left few players stationed near the line of scrimmage. This was the most favorable defensive scheme he's likely to face all season.
While he showed off his athleticism, he also showed off the inaccuracy that has plagued his NFL career. The Eagles are unlikely to give up on Kolb after just one bad half, and there still is no sign that Vick has managed to improve his technique and become the accurate passer that the Eagles require.
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