Chip Kelly momentarily channeled Bill Parcells. You know the quote: “You are what your record says you are.” The Eagles' record says they've lost three times as many games as they’ve won. But, someone wanted to know, what else can be used to judge the team’s progress? What else should we focus on?
“Honestly, I don’t think you should be looking at anything else,” Kelly said during Thursday’s press conference at the NovaCare Complex. “That’s what we all get graded on at the end of the day is wins and losses. We as a group understand our plan and the process of how you win and how you lose and what contributes to that. That’s what this deal is all about. At the end of the day, if you’re not winning enough games, you’re not going to be here very long, and if you are winning games, then you’re going to be around.”
He’s right, of course. It is the only metric that really matters. Win and stay. Lose and go. It is how it has always worked in the NFL for head coaches. For quarterbacks, too.
If a team’s record places its head coach under the most scrutiny, then the starting quarterback isn’t far behind. It is universal and unavoidable -- a prerequisite for any NFL signal caller.
That’s the reality for Michael Vick. He knows it well. Whether you think quarterbacks get too much praise when their teams win or too much blame when they lose is immaterial. That’s simply the way it is.
There is an undeniable pressure placed upon quarterbacks in all towns, but especially this one. Vick has had two excellent statistical games this season (Washington and San Diego), one horrible outing (Kansas City) and one so-so effort (Denver). He has completed 55.1 percent of his passes (31st in the NFL) while throwing for 1,080 yards (13th) and five touchdowns (18th). He has a 93.2 quarterback rating (10th). He has done some good things and some not-so-good things, but he certainly hasn’t been a problem for the Eagles this season.
Not that any of those statistics really matter. Nor does it matter that, this week, Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur both complimented the way Vick has played so far and managed the offense. Put into Kelly/Parcells parlance, what matters most -- for quarterbacks in general and this quarterback in particular -- is wins and losses.
“It’s all about wins and losses,” Vick said. “I never seen a guy being judged off of stats. We all understand, as a group, we’ve got to win. We’ve got to do what it takes to win games. Stats don’t mean anything if you don’t win games.”
It has been written in this space, quite a few times, that Vick is the Eagles’ best quarterback and their best chance to win. That belief hasn’t changed. But, like quarterback ratings and other stats, believing in Vick doesn’t really matter all that much. And so you look to Sunday, to the game against the Giants, and it’s obvious how big it is for the Eagles and Vick.
There are two potential narratives for this weekend. You know them both, but a quick review is warranted.
If the Eagles win, people will look at the NFC East standings and rightly assert that they aren’t out of contention. (And if they win and the Cowboys lose, the Birds will, incredibly, be tied for first place). People will also point to their upcoming schedule -- the four opponents they’ll face after the Giants have three combined wins at the moment -- as a reason for optimism. In that scenario, Vick would go on, largely unmolested by the fans or media, as the starting quarterback.
If the Eagles lose, however, it’s easy enough to imagine people harping about how they’ve been defeated in four straight games. It’s easy enough to imagine people wondering aloud why a team that hasn’t performed well and doesn’t appear poised to win now is starting a win-now quarterback. Questions -- internally as well as externally -- would almost certainly be asked about planning for next year by seeing what the Eagles do or don’t have in Nick Foles and/or Matt Barkley. In that scenario, Vick might last as the starting quarterback, but it would become increasingly likely that he’d eventually be replaced.
“The one thing we’re not going to do, we’re not going to make any excuses,” Vick said when asked if the Eagles might have a better record if they hadn’t played three games in 11 days, followed by a trip to Denver to start the season. “We love to play this game. We love the game of football. It is what it is. I would never sit here and make an excuse as to why the situation is what it is. It could have easily been different. We could easily be in a different situation right now.”
They aren’t in a different situation. Vick knows it. He accepts it. Just as he knows and accepts how he’s ultimately judged.
- John Gonzalez, CSN Philly