Vick or Foles, Eagles offense keeps moving

Michael Vick is the speedy, elusive, strong-armed quarterback.
Nick Foles is more of the classic pocket passer.

Despite obvious differences in the skill sets of his top two
quarterbacks, Chip Kelly insists the Philadelphia Eagles run the
same offense no matter which player is under center.

”We do the same things offensively with Nick that we did with
Mike, and I think that’s the beauty of those guys,” Kelly said.
”There are some things that Nick does different than Mike does.
But it’s not like we’re going to be an I-formation team if Nick’s
in the game.”

Foles will make his second straight start Sunday when the Eagles
(3-3) host the Dallas Cowboys (3-3) in a battle for first place in
the NFC East. Vick had been playing well before injuring his
hamstring late in the first half against the New York Giants on
Oct. 6.

Foles has filled in nicely, leading the Eagles to two wins and
sparking a full-blown quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.
Kelly hasn’t diffused it by refusing to say whether Vick will
regain his starting job when he’s healthy.

Strong arguments could be made to support either side. Vick has
thrown for 1,185 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, and
has 307 yards rushing and two more scores. Foles has completed 67.2
percent of his passes for 542 yards, six touchdowns, zero
interceptions and has a passer rating of 127.9.

Vick led the Eagles to 11 touchdowns and 10 field goals on 54
drives for an average of 1.96 points per drive. Foles has led them
to seven touchdowns and three field goals on 22 drives, an average
of 2.64 points per drive.

”Nick moves a little bit better than some people give him
credit for and I think Mike operates from the pocket a little bit
better than some people give him credit for,” offensive
coordinator Pat Shurmur said. ”They both function equally well in
our offense and they both have been efficient. They both can do
anything we want them to do for us to be successful on
offense.”

But anyone who watches football knows they have different
styles, right?

Kelly has everyone in the organization sticking to the same
story. Opponents are more inclined to give an honest opinion.

”I would like to see Foles,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason
Hatcher said. ”Vick is like a rabbit. He’s all over the place.
Foles is more like a stationary guy in the pocket. Both of them are
awesome quarterbacks.”

Vick appears more suited to operate Kelly’s zone-read offense
because of his superior scrambling ability. When he’s on the field,
the Eagles seemingly have a more dangerous rushing attack because
opponents have to defend against Vick and LeSean McCoy. But, McCoy
had 116 yards rushing in last week’s win at Tampa Bay.

With Foles, the Eagles have been more efficient in the red zone.
Foles is 5 for 9 for 37 yards with three touchdowns and a rushing
touchdown inside the opponents’ 20. Vick is 5 for 19 for 38 yards
and one score. But he had one of his passes dropped in the end zone
by James Casey and another dropped by Brent Celek inside the 5.

Some of Vick’s critics say he struggles on a short field because
he’s only 6-foot and has trouble seeing over linemen. Foles is
6-foot-6, so he has no problems in that area.

”The passes that we threw in the red zone, we would have called
the exact same passes if Mike was quarterback,” Shurmur said. ”We
expect them to execute and be efficient. You don’t call certain
plays for a tall quarterback and certain ones for a guy that’s not
as tall.”

Receiver DeSean Jackson has caught red-zone touchdown passes
from Foles in consecutive games. He had only two scoring catches of
15 yards or less from Vick in four-plus seasons together.

But Jackson credits that to playcalling – not the
quarterback.

”I always felt like I can be a threat regardless of where the
ball is on the field,” Jackson said. ”I have a coach that
believes in me out there and likes to call my number.”

The situation hasn’t affected the friendship between Vick and
Foles.

”I love Mike,” Foles said. ”We have a great relationship and
we don’t worry about it. We know that the most important thing is
for the Philadelphia Eagles to win, no matter who is at
quarterback.

”We’re going to support each other.”

Vick showed up with Foles for an unscheduled tag-team news
conference after Thursday’s practice instead of each player
speaking to reporters individually.

”Regardless of what happens, it’s all about rooting for one
another,” Vick said. ”Whatever comes out of it, it’s going to be
all good for the both of us. I love Nick and that friendship is
there, and it won’t go anywhere regardless of what happens.”

Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/

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