“In this game, you just have to keep pushing and try to keep getting better every week.” Michael vick, Eagles QB
METAIRIE — If you believe Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, there never was a doubt that Michael Vick will be his starting quarterback for Monday night’s game with the New Orleans Saints.
In his news conference after Sunday’s 30-17 loss to his old team, the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons, Vick seemed under the impression that it was possible Reid would bench him and give rookie Nick Foles his first NFL start when the Eagles meet the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After announcing Wednesday that Vick was still his starter, Reid sounded Thursday morning like he never considered a change during a conference call with Louisiana reporters.
“I never switched it, so that’s just how it was perceived,” Reid said when asked about staying with Vick. “He’s our starting quarterback. He’s been our starting quarterback and will continue to be our starting quarterback.”
When told that Vick himself had said Reid was “obviously” thinking about making a change, Reid said Vick was only responding to a question reporters posed to him following the game.
“They asked him a question off of one of my questions — and answers — and so, that’s how he answered it,” Reid said. “I wasn’t worried about the way he answered it. Actually, he did it respectful to the team and me, and the whole deal.
“But that’s not where I was at. We talk every day, so it was important that he knew after that (that he would start Monday night) when we talked.”
Later, Vick said talk about his possible benching in recent weeks, the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo last week and rampant speculation about Reid’s job security combined to weigh heavily on him.
It also didn’t help that the Eagles, who won their first two games, have lost three consecutive games and four of their past five to fall to 3-4.
But he was upbeat during Thursday’s conference call.
“What I have done this week is just throw it all out the window, and I am ready to get back to playing football and playing my style of football and having fun doing it,” Vick said. “That whole conversation (after the game) just took on a life of its own.”
But while there was some confusion about Vick’s immediate future, there is no doubt he hasn’t played the way Reid and the Eagles need him to play this season.
Vick, who’s been sacked 20 times, has committed 13 turnovers on eight interceptions and five fumbles. The Eagles rank 29th in the NFL in turnover differential at minus-9 with 17 giveaways, which is tied for the third-most in the league.
While Vick did not give the ball away in the loss to the Falcons, he threw for only 191 yards and a touchdown in hitting on 21 of 35 passes. He rushed for 42 yards on seven carries, however, and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry for the season.
According to the team’s website, Vick called a team meeting Wednesday in which he pointed out that he and the entire team have to be more productive.
But at least his play against the Falcons satisfied Reid to some extent and said he played “one of his better games” and did a nice job managing the game.
“He eliminated any turnovers that he’d had, whether it was fumbles or interceptions,” Reid said. “He gave the receivers an opportunity to catch the football. He just needs to continue to lead this football team. He is the leader of the team. He understands that.”
Vick and the Eagles could be thinking about getting better against the Saints, who rank 32nd in the NFL in total yards allowed as well as 31st and 30th, respectively, against the run and pass.
“I feel like things could be a lot better,” Vick said. “I think, not only myself, but everybody on this team feels like there is more that they can do to help put us in position to be satisfied with our record.
“In this game, you just have to keep pushing and try to keep getting better every week.”
Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said despite Vick’s turnover problems this season, he still has the dual-threat capabilities to make life miserable for most defenses.
“Michael has earned his stripes in this league based on what he’s done,” Vitt said. “Michael’s a veteran quarterback that’s going to go on to the next game and prepare for his next opponent.”