JACKSONVILLE — The smooth, quick-strike option offense that we saw in the first two preseason games was nowhere to be found in the first half Saturday against the Jaguars. In its place was an erratic style of sandlot ball that resembled the 2012 Eagles just a little too much.
At the controls was newly-crowned starter Michael Vick. The 33-year-old was not helped out by his line, which yielded seven QB hits and a pair of sacks in the first two quarters. But we also saw some old habits creep back in. Vick held onto the ball too long, had happy feet in the pocket and made some ill-advised throws.
In two-plus quarters of play, he finished 15-of-23 for 184 yards with a touchdown, an interception and an 86.1 quarterback rating. Vick and the offense looked more in rhythm to start the second half, but their drive was halted by a Bryce Brown fumble. Nick Foles took over the following possession.
“We were able to put drives together, but were not able to finish off in the end zone,” said Vick following the game. “We had a couple turnovers, I had an interception and we had a fumble coming out of the first quarter. All of those could have resulted in points. The good thing about this game is there are things we can work on to help us get [better] down the road.”
This was a different Vick than the one that dazzled in limited play the first two weeks to claim the quarterback competition. He looked far more decisive and comfortable in those outings.
It must be noted that even if this is considered the most important preseason game, it’s still the preseason. It’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions. We don’t know what Chip Kelly was tinkering with– or hiding — on Saturday. At first glance, the play designs looked more out of Marty Mornhinweg’s playbook than Kelly’s.
Still, there were some throws that Vick simply should not have made. Like his interception to Dwayne Gratz. Sen’Derrick Marks got the better of Todd Herremans on the play and pressured Vick, but his throw to nowhere along the right sideline still shouldn’t have happened. At the end of the half, Vick — firmly in the grasp of Andre Branch — twisted his body and heaved the ball on his way down. It was a play that screamed for less. But that’s just not Vick. At least, not the Vick we have grown accustomed to.
Kelly wants his quarterback to stay true to his offense. To read and react. Find the numbers advantage, exploit it, and then hurry to the line and do it again.
The offense on Saturday was random and largely out of control. And it’s hard to know — given that this is just the preseason — whether or not that’s something to worry about.
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