Week 5 winners/losers: Michael Vick is still Eagles' best option despite erratic play

Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

It seems as clear as Waterford crystal that the Philadelphia Eagles should bench quarterback Michael Vick, if for no other reason than to get him to calm down.

But here's the frightening thing to consider: How bad will it be if the Eagles go to a quarterback who can't get out of the way of the endless number of defensive players that the Philly offensive line allows to run free?

Eagles fans can howl at the moon all they want about Vick's 11 turnovers in five games (six interceptions and five lost fumbles after putting the ball on the ground twice against Pittsburgh). But the fact is that the offensive line is so atrocious that backup Nick Foles would stand about the same chance as a man against a highly motivated buck – except Foles wouldn't have a tree to climb for safety.

Ultimately, the Eagles don't have a lot of great options despite three ugly trends. The first is that Vick is on the way to obliterating his career-worst total of 19 turnovers in 2004 (he's on pace for 35 this season, assuming the unlikely chance of him playing a full season).

The second is that Vick has been sacked 14 times, putting him on pace to go down 45 times for the season. Assuming he can play a full season, which he hasn't since joining Philly, this would tie for the second-most times he has been sacked in his career.

Finally, the Eagles have been limited to less than 20 points in four of five games. In Vick's previous two seasons, which included 26 starts between the regular season and playoffs, the Eagles had been held under 20 only five times total.

In fairness to Vick, he did put the Eagles in position to win Sunday with a pair of touchdown passes in the second half. Philadelphia was up one point in the fourth quarter when Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger worked some of his usual magic as the Steelers rallied for a 16-14 win.

[More: Robert Griffin III knocked out of loss with a concussion]

The Eagles' struggles stand out because they have the skill-position players to be one of the best offenses in the league between Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek. And while some people can dismiss the loss Sunday as a tough game at Pittsburgh, the truth is the Eagles have struggled to score against everybody this season, whether it's the Steelers, the injury-depleted Giants at home or at Cleveland in the opener.

The question is what does coach Andy Reid, a man who is under immense pressure to win based on owner Jeff Lurie's remarks before the season, do about Vick? Does he sit Vick down the way he once did Donovan McNabb, even though he knows the offense won't be much better with Foles?

Or does he let Vick play through the situation?

Here are the winners and losers for Week 5:


Having mentioned Ben Roethlisberger, the win marked his 21st fourth-quarter comeback of his nine-year career. That puts him one behind fellow 2004 draft classmate Eli Manning. The total of 43 is impressive, but well behind the combined 71 that Class of '83ers Dan Marino (36) and John Elway (35) had in their careers. Marino is tied with Peyton Manning for the most all time. Elway is by himself in second.

Indianapolis fans who were worried that the Colts might have taken the wrong quarterback between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (there was no bad choice in that one), should be a little less concerned after Sunday. Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (13 receptions, 212 yards and a touchdown) were critical in leading the Colts to a 30-27 victory against the Green Bay Packers. The Colts, who have played three straight at home, are now 2-2. More important, Luck has put them in position to win each of those games. If not for a bungled coverage against Jacksonville, the Colts could be 3-1 with three consecutive comeback victories engineered by Luck. This team is still a long way from being a serious playoff contender, but Sunday showed great progress by Luck, who hung in against pressure in the second half. He did a much better job of handling the pass rush than in the opener at Chicago and even showed the courage to throw the ball to Wayne when the great Charles Woodson was covering him. And nice touch reportedly by owner Jim Irsay to deliver the game ball to Chuck Pagano in the hospital.

[More: Andrew Luck, Colts honor Chuck Pagano with upset of Packers]

It's been a pretty awesome week for Chicago Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman and Lance Briggs, who were drafted in the second and third rounds in 2003, respectively. In the stretch of a calendar week (Monday at Dallas and Sunday at Jacksonville), both Tillman and Briggs had two interception returns for touchdowns in runaway Chicago victories. In each of Tillman's interceptions, those picks stretched three-point leads into 10-point leads. Each of Briggs' scores essentially put the games on ice. Tillman now has four TD returns for scores in his past 21 games. That matches the four TD returns he had in his first 128 games (eight seasons).

Washington Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, who took over when Griffin was knocked out with a head injury, created some pretty serious buzz with that tracer-bullet 77-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santana Moss in the 24-17 loss to the Falcons. Yeah, Moss was wide open as Atlanta safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud forgot to run with a guy going full speed through the secondary, but that's not the point. Cousins saw the play the whole way and delivered a sensational pass. Of course, his two interceptions later on were the typical stuff of rookies, but the arm he showed on that one play was terrific. It should also say plenty about Cousins that he was the guy coach Mike Shanahan had made the No. 2 quarterback already, bypassing former starter Rex Grossman.

Good work by Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush on his 13-yard touchdown run in the second half. That play turned out to be the clinching score in the Dolphins' 17-13 win over the Bengals. Moreover, it was further evidence against the theory about Bush when he was traded by New Orleans to Miami before the 2011 season. The word back then was that Bush couldn't cut on runs to his left. This was yet another example of how Bush can do exactly that. The bigger issue for the Dolphins is what to do about Bush, who will be a free agent after this season. So far, there appear to be no serious discussions about a new deal for Bush, which is pretty strange considering the Dolphins' dearth of offensive weapons.

Congrats to Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall on his return to the lineup following an ACL tear with a 14-carry, 81-yard, one-touchdown effort. After watching the moribund Steelers' running game over the first three games, perhaps now Pittsburgh fans will embrace Mendenhall a bit more than they have in the past. Last year, there were even plenty of fans who believed Isaac Redman would eventually supplant Mendenhall. That's just not reality. At least not yet.

[More: Foe uses trickery in attempt to slow down Antonio Brown]

Give the Falcons credit for hanging tough in a brutal game against Washington. The Falcons found a way to score 17 points in the fourth quarter as they improved to 5-0. For the second week in a row, the Falcons got critical plays from running back Michael Turner in the second half. This time he scored a decisive rushing touchdown.


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel added injury to insult. Not only was he knocked out of the game against Baltimore, he had three more turnovers before exiting. That gives Cassel 13 turnovers for the season and puts him on pace for 42 this season. Of course, don't expect him to keep that pace because you can pretty much count on him losing his job after this game, one way or another. This has been a brutal fall for Cassel, who was on thin ice last week with the coaching staff and front office.

You hate to say it, but it increasingly looks like Troy Polamalu's body has been taken over by the ghost of Bob Sanders (yeah, I know he's not dead, but you get the reference). Polamalu returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the previous two games. No sooner was he back on the field that Polamalu strained his right calf and didn't return. Polamalu has missed multiple games in three of the past four seasons. And it looks like for the fourth time in the past seven seasons, he will miss at least three games.

[More: Charles Tillman and Lance Brigg make history]

Green Bay fans are obviously going to be concerned after the Packers squandered a 21-3 lead to the Colts in the first half and have now fallen to 2-3. As much as you might want to blame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the bigger issue is the failure of the offensive line to protect him. In three of the past four games, Rodgers has been sacked at least five times and he has been sacked 21 times overall. The Packers are on pace to allow 67 sacks this season, which would obliterate the career-high 50 sacks taken by Rodgers in 2009. Yeah, Rodgers tends to hold the ball sometimes, but this problem is deeper than that.

[Yahoo! Sports Radio: RB Donald Brown on Colts' victory]

I'm not a defensive coordinator and won't pretend to know the things that go into that job, particularly when you have to replace a terrific young cornerback like Joe Haden, which is what Cleveland's Dick Jauron had to do the first four weeks of this season. But something is seriously wrong when your defensive backs are getting beat as consistently as Cleveland's were on Sunday against the New York Giants. Sure, New York wide receiver Victor Cruz is an excellent player, but he was running almost completely free on his second and third touchdowns. This was man coverage against some very basic pass routes and the Browns looked completely lost.

Miami kicker Dan Carpenter missed his fourth field goal in the past three games. Even if he's the most accurate kicker in team history, don't expect the Dolphins to be overly patient with him. If he had hit two of those four, the Dolphins could easily be 4-1 this season.

After watching the defense get torched again in San Francisco, you have to wonder how much longer Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey is going to keep defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. The Bills have allowed 45 points or more in three of five games and have been lit up for 97 points in the last two games.

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