Michael Vick and Nick Foles are making it tough for Chip Kelly to pick a starting quarterback.
Vick was nearly flawless, Foles looked sharp and each player led the Philadelphia Eagles to touchdown drives in a 14-9 victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
No matter who Kelly chooses to run his up-tempo offense, it appears both quarterbacks can operate this system efficiently. Vick and Foles have combined to put up 28 points on eight-plus drives in two games.
”They’re doing a great job of making it difficult because they’re both playing at a high level,” Kelly said. ”We’re going to make a decision. One of them could sprain an ankle walking in the parking lot.”
Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl pick, has the statistical edge over Foles, the second-year pro.
”I feel in rhythm all the time,” Vick said. ”The flow in the way we prepare makes me feel I can do it all. I feel like the team can go places.”
On the opposite side, Newton had a so-so effort against a defense that got picked apart by Tom Brady last week. Newton, the 2011 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, was 8 of 17 for 112 yards. He played the first half and led the Panthers (1-1) to a pair of field goals.
”I thought he did some nice things,” coach Ron Rivera said. ”He got us down there twice in scoring position. We did miss a couple of throws but he was running for his life twice and both times he overthrew the ball. I’m not sure you can put that on the quarterback.”
Vick completed his first nine passes before throwing an interception on a desperation pass at the end of the second quarter after the Eagles (1-1) got the ball with 24 seconds left in the half. He finished 9 of 10 for 105 yards and also ran for 20.
Foles was 6 of 8 for 53 yards. He had 13 yards rushing, including a 7-yard TD scamper. But Foles made a big mistake on his first series when he tried to throw the ball out of the end zone and was picked.
”All I can do is correct what I did wrong and improve,” Foles said. ”Mike is a great quarterback and it makes me a better quarterback going against him. Mike and I have a great relationship. I’m happy to see him do well.”
Through two games, Vick is 13 of 15 for 199 yards, one TD, one interception and a passer rating of 113.1. Foles is 11 of 14 for 96 yards, no TDs, one pick and a passer rating of 65.7.
Foles got the start this week because Vick started the preseason opener against New England. He completed his first six passes and crisply worked a no-huddle offense, moving the Eagles from their 5 to the Panthers 8 before things went awry.
Foles dropped a shotgun snap, picked it up and tried to throw the ball away but his underthrown pass was intercepted by Josh Thomas in the back of the end zone.
Foles threw an incomplete pass on the first play of the next series, then the Eagles kept it on the ground. One play after LeSean McCoy’s juke-and-go, 21-yard run, Foles ran in from the 7 for a 7-0 lead.
”LeSean is a tremendous back and with a little space, he can make amazing things happen,” Foles said.
Vick completed his first four passes for 43 yards and guided the Eagles to the Panthers 36 before Chris Polk fumbled after an 8-yard run.
Vick started his second drive with two passes to DeSean Jackson for 28 yards and then connected with Riley Cooper for 22. Vick then scrambled 14 yards and 6 yards on consecutive plays before McCoy ran in from the 1 to make it 14-6.
The Eagles gave a much better defensive effort in their second game. The first unit allowed 50 yards rushing in the first half after getting steamrolled by the Patriots.
Newton is 11 of 23 for 128 yards, one TD and one interception in two games.
”There are just some things we have to wrinkle out,” Newton said. ”We were moving the ball effectively. We can’t have self-inflicted penalties. It takes a little more focus. And on my part I feel like I can put the offense in a better situation with a couple of throws I feel got away from me. We moved the ball but we can do better and we will do better as this preseason progresses.”
NOTES: Graham Gano kicked field goals of 47 and 32 yards, and Morgan Lineberry had a 27-yarder for Carolina. … Phillip Hunt had surgery for a partial tear of his ACL. … RB Felix Jones (rib), TE Emil Igwenagu (head) and DB Curtis Marsh (hand) left the game for the Eagles. … The Panthers didn’t have any injuries.