In the second quarter, Michael Vick took off his helmet and climbed onto the exercise bike to loosen up the hamstring that has given him so much trouble over these last few weeks. If the bike had been real and not stationary, Vick might have considered riding it off the sideline and up the tunnel and right out of the stadium.
Things were not going well for Vick or the Eagles at that point. Then they got worse.
Vick went back out for another drive, but it wasn’t much of one. The Eagles registered a first down during that series, which the crowd mockingly cheered. Three plays later, the Eagles punted. The crowd rightly booed.
Vick said he “felt good going in” but reinjured his hamstring while running out of bounds on the third play of the second drive. That’s when it “popped.” That’s the word Vick used. He’s scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.
“I just have an unfortunate hamstring injury,” Vick replied when asked whether he’s concerned about his inability to stay on the field. “It happens in football. I hurt my groin twice in the first two games, and I was still able to play. It’s just, this one is of a different magnitude. I can’t question why it happened. I never had a hamstring injury this bad. I really don’t know what to tell you.”
Vick led four drives on Sunday, which is an admittedly liberal application of the words “led” and “drives.” He completed six of nine passes for 31 yards and a 32.4 quarterback rating. He also threw an interception.
It was the second straight game Vick played in which he did not look good nor healthy. In his last outing, coincidentally against the Giants, Vick injured his hamstring. That was three weeks ago. He was pulled in the second quarter of that contest as well. He completed 6 of 14 passes that day at MetLife Stadium for 105 yards and a 69 quarterback rating. He was awful that afternoon, but not nearly as awful as he was on Sunday in the rematch.
Some quick math reveals the ugly truth: In his last two games, Vick connected on just 12 of 23 passes (52.1 completion percentage) for 136 yards and an interception. But wait, his defenders say. He’s been hurt, they cry. Which is true. But then you consider what he did in the two games before that, when he wasn’t hurt, and Vick’s recent performances become much harder to defend.
Over his last four games, going back to the matchup against the Chiefs, Vick has completed 39 of 80 passes (48.7 percent). He's averaged 146.25 passing yards and 73 rushing yards in those outings. He's totaled one passing touchdown and three interceptions. He hasn't scored on the ground.
Kansas City. That’s when it began to crumble for Vick. He got off to an excellent start against Washington and San Diego, but the current version of Vick hasn’t looked like the early-season version of Vick. Not at all. Not even a little.
It makes you question how much he has left to contribute. If the first two games of the season were his zenith, do the rest represent an irreversible decline? Is this Vick’s nadir? Or is it possible that he might recover from his hamstring injury and play well -- or at least play in a not-entirely-terrible manner?
The Eagles' quarterback situation is an untenable mess. That has everything to do with Vick. In limited action, Matt Barkley has produced four turnovers. Nick Foles is concussed, and he has been average when he’s played (see story).
That leaves Vick. Even at 33, he has always been their best chance to win now -- which is why they aren’t winning now and might not win for a while. Without Vick playing and playing well, the running game struggles and the receivers don’t make big plays and the Eagles limp along. (Forget about Tampa. The Buccaneers are horrid, and the offense the Eagles mustered in that game looks like an outlier now.)
The Eagles’ offense has scored just three points in the last two weeks. It is remarkable, given how bad they’ve been, that they scored that many.
“When you’re unsettled at [quarterback] in this league,” Chip Kelly said, “it’s real difficult. ... I was concerned all week long. When you’re not settled at that position -- in this league, you’d better have a quarterback. Right now we’re [unstable] at the quarterback spot and we’re not playing well at the quarterback spot.”
Unsettled and unstable. That about covers it. Vick said he doesn’t know whether he’ll have to sit out again and let his hamstring heal. Depends on the MRI results. He also said he never considered taking Week 8 off to give himself more time to convalesce.
“Once Nick got hurt last week, I just made up my mind that I was going to try to get out there,” Vick said. “I was going to try to rehab as hard as I could all week and try to put myself in a position where I could get back behind the center and help our team win.”
It’s reasonable to wonder if he’ll do either of those things again this season -- get back behind the center or help his team win. You’re forgiven if you have your doubts.