Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid caused quite the stir this week. When asked about his starting quarterback, the NFL's longest-tenured mustache said that the team was going with presumed started Michael Vick "right now" and that the team would "evaluate it as we go." Many tea-leaf readers interpreted this to mean that if the currently 2-1 Vick can't step up his game, he may find himself on the bench. Citizens who subscribe to this theory also believe that the cause of the Eagles embarrassingly-ugly defeat to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday is solely, or at least mainly, the fault of Vick.
This is knee-jerk beer-induced nonsense. As the fictional Leonard McCoy once said, "if you're going to ride in the Kentucky derby, you don't leave your prized stallion in the stable." On Sunday in the Arizona desert, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg left their prized stallion, LeSean McCoy, alone in a pile of his own excrement.
Not counting the plays where Vick was flushed from the pocket, the Eagles ran the ball a brow-furrowing five times in the first half versus Arizona, four of which went to McCoy. On the flip-side, they threw the ball 25 times. That's a 5:1 ratio.
"We've got some explosive players," Reid said later, as if that somehow excused throwing it 60 yards down field more frequently than running it. Alas, he is right. With DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek at his disposal, Reid's offense is filled with explosive players.
But none are more explosive than his Pro Bowl running back, who spent a majority of this past Sunday bottled up by his own teams logic-defying gameplan.
Vick is not the Eagles best player; McCoy is. And if this team is going to fulfill any of their offseason Rollins-esque Nostradamus attempts, it's going to be on the back of #25, not #7.
Oh, and it is also worth noting that every time Reid calls for a draw to his ridiculously talented running back, it's one less chance the defense has to smack up his savagely beaten QB. So to sum up, running the ball offers the Eagles a chance to keep the ball in their best players hands, a more balanced offensive attack, and a means for keeping the injury-prone signal-caller cleaner. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
It's not the first time during the Andy Reid-era the pass-happy coach has struggled with the reality that his quarterback wasn't his most talented player. Following the exile of Terrell Owens at the end of 2005, it became obvious to many Iggles observers that the best offensive player at Reid's disposal was no longer quarterback Donovan McNabb, but versatile running back Brian Westbrook.
Despite this obvious reality, Reid continued to make McNabb's arm the teams offensive focal point, until his ACL blew out running away from defenders during a Week 11 match-up at Tennessee. After that, the Eagles offense started running through Westbrook, who had his first 1,000-yard season and tied his career-high in touchdowns. The Birds, meanwhile, won their last five games and a divisional playoff game against the New York Giants.
While not a Lombardi-lifting finish, the result of the 2006 season is the exact kind of result Reid likely needs to have in 2012 to keep his job.
When Westbrook was at the top of his game, it was said defensive coordinators had to always account for where on the field the shifty running back would be. So far in 2012, no defensive coordinator has had to concern himself with the whereabouts of LeSean McCoy. For Reid and his yes-man offensive coordinator have made this top five Fantasy Option a non-factor.
The reality is, if Reid and Morningweg keep up this indefensible pass-run ratio, they are going to get Vick killed. And maybe that'll be an upgrade. His death would open the door for rookie Nick Foles, a 22-year-old unknown whom many a Philadelphia hatorade-chugger already think is the better option.
And he very well might be. But even if the rookie from Arizona has the arm of Johnny Unitas and the ferocity of Godzilla, he's still not a better weapon right now than McCoy.
In the end, it won't matter which quarterback Reid has playing. As long as he keeps locking his prized stallion up in the stables, Reid's offense is going to sputter, his quarterback is going to get hit, and his team is going to continue to suffer demoralizing laughingstock losses like they did this past weekend.