Vince Young made his first start in exactly a year on Sunday, in relief of Michael Vick, and led an 18- play 80-yard game winning drive in the process. Young earned a second start, if Vick’s ribs leave him unable to play for the second week in a row.
There is no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.
Andy Reid made that abundantly clear at his weekly press conference on Monday. As fas as the coach is concerned, Michael Vick is the quarterback of this football team. That is, when he is fully recovered from two broken ribs — suffered against the Cardinals in Week 10 — that left him sidelined against the NY Giants on Sunday night.
There are no guarantees that Vick will be healthy in time to line up under center against the New England Patriots in the latest in the Eagles continued series of must-win games. Reid acknowledged on Monday that if the game were scheduled for that day, then Vick would be unable to play.
Which is exactly why, if there is even a shred of doubt regarding Vick’s health, that Vince Young should quarterback this team for the second consecutive week.
“Well, I felt that way going in,” Reid said when asked if Young’s performance on Sunday allows him flexibility not to rush Vick back. “I don’t have a long history with Vince, and I felt confident that he would be able to be successful, knock a little rust off and get kind of caught up with the game speed and be ok. We’re not going to put [Vick] out there if he can’t play.”
Young accounted for himself nicely on Sunday night finishing passing numbers: 23-36 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Included in Young’s performance was a fourth quarter drive for the ages. The Eagles pieced together an 18-play 80-yard drive that yielded the game-winning touchdown in a 17-10 win over the NY Giants. On that drive Young was clutch. The backup, who hadn’t started in a calendar year, passed for numbers 7-9 for 67 yards including the game winning 8-yard touchdown strike to WR Riley Cooper (subbing for injured WR Jeremy Maclin). The drive represents the longest touchdown drive — in terms of plays — for the Eagles since September 9, 2001 against the Rams at Veterans Stadium.
Granted, Young was quite erratic through three quarters. But with the game on the line, he played his best football.
“I Had a couple of jitters,” Young said about not starting all season. “It’s been a while. Overall, I started to calm down and just let the game come to me.”
That poise under pressure may be exactly what Philadelphia needs on Sunday.
This team’s fourth quarter meltdowns are well documented, having dropped five games after leading in the game’s final frame. Unlike Young, the fourth quarter has brought out the worst in Vick. Through his nine starts, Vick’s quarterback rating is a very mediocre 73.6 in the fourth quarter and he’s thrown one touchdown and two interceptions. In terms of overall fourth quarter efficiency, Vick ranks 25th in the league, even behind rookies Cam Newton and Christian Ponder.
Furthermore in his career, Young has 13 career game-winning drives in 48 starts. Meanwhile Vick has just 11 in 88 starts.
Young’s performance on Sunday combined with his career track record late in games, shows that the offense is in good hands, should Vick need an extra week to recover. Lucky for the Birds, the schedule makers serve-up the Patriots on a short week following their game on Monday against the Chiefs (34-3 rout win). In 2011, after playing on Monday Night Football this season teams are just 10-12.
Given the layout of the Eagles schedule and a stretch run that leaves virtually no margin for error, if they hope to play into January, caution very well maybe the best course of action when it comes to Vick on Sunday. Following Sunday’s showdown with the Patriots, the Eagles have just two days to prepare before flying cross country to take on the Seahawks in Week 14 on Thursday Night Football. Unless Vick’s ribs are fully healed and there is no risk for further injury to the franchise quarterback, playing Sunday is an unneccessary risk when you consider his value to the team’s long-term playoff hopes.
While Vick is the quarterback of this team, if he is not healthy enough to perform at a high level and without risking further injury to his already broken ribs, the choice is clear; to play Vince Young Sunday for the second straight week.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer for Taking It To The House. Matt is also the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter and a host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email at MDLombardo@yahoo.com