Quarterback situation has doomed Eagles to failure

PHILADELPHIA

— After 12 games, 29 turnovers and eight losses, the Eagles' identity as a team that cannot win without quarterback Michael Vick has been firmly established.

The problem is that they can no longer win with him, either.

For a team that relies so much on great quarterback play more than it ever did when it used to regularly adjust to significant time missed by Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, the Eagles' long-term prognosis doesn't look promising.

Not only has Vick regressed following what now looks to be a peak 2010 season, but he no longer can be counted on to stay healthy enough to keep Vince Young and Mike Kafka from losing games when he's not able to lose them himself.

Their season began to unravel in the fourth quarter of Week 2, when Kafka and a defense that gave him no help were unable to protect a 10-point lead over Atlanta that Vick was mostly responsible for achieving before being felled by a concussion.

Similarly, Kafka was no help the following week against the New York Giants, when the Eagles once again collapsed in the fourth quarter — after Vick had been knocked out of the game with an injury to his non-throwing hand.

Not questioning the methods or motivation of the Eagles' training staff or the NFL's concussion criteria here, but it's worth noting that the post-concussion Vick has been nothing like the pre-concussion Vick, either.

Vick had no interceptions and 97 rushing yards in a season-opening blowout of the St. Louis Rams. The following week against Atlanta, he was 19 of 28 for 242 yards, two TDs and one interception while driving the Eagles to a 10-point lead.

On a day in which they finished with 27 first downs, they only achieved four after Vick left the game in the closing seconds of the third quarter and one between the time they went from being up by 10 to being down by four during a spirited Falcons comeback.

He's been very ordinary since his return the following week against the Giants. Still, he was able to drive them that week to a two-point lead late in the third, when he was knocked out of the game.

Vick over the next six games, four of them losses, tossed just seven touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He hasn't played since, thanks to two broken ribs that he was believed to have suffered on the second play of a loss to Arizona on Nov. 13.

So if you're keeping score at home, it doesn't matter if the concussion has affected his thought process. The main thing is that he's now had three separate injuries that have not allowed him to finish five of his team's 12 games. Four of those five have been losses.

None were uglier or more revealing than Thursday night's implosion at Seattle, where Young was intercepted four times in a 31-14 defeat.

Young this season is 66 of 114 for 866 yards and more than twice as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (four). His passer rating is 60.8, significantly lower than his below-average career rating of 74.4.

His final pick was returned 77 yards for a game-clinching touchdown by David Hawthorne, who stepped in front of a floater in the left flat intended for LeSean McCoy.

"That was just a bum-head play on my part," Young said. "I should have known there was a man there. I just lost a linebacker when I released it. He just popped into the picture. That's all the quarterback's fault. I saw the coverage, I saw the man, I just lost a linebacker on that route."

Young lost a lot more than that — not that it's his fault the season has turned out the way it has.

None of these quarterback failures reflect well on coach Andy Reid, who has lasted 13 years largely because his backup quarterbacks have won as much as or more than his starters until this season.

In 2002, then third-team quarterback A.J. Feeley took over in a November game at San Francisco and guided them to five straight wins and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

In 2006, it was Jeff Garcia who stepped in for the injured McNabb to finish the regular season with five straight wins and start the postseason with a wild-card victory as well.

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