PHILADELPHIA – Michael Vick remains the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, for next week and beyond.
Coach Andy Reid said Thursday he never considered benching Vick, he just wanted to step back and evaluate the beleaguered veteran.
His appraisal complete, Reid threw his full support behind Vick after practice and was ready to move forward with him under center for Monday's game at New Orleans (2-5). Rookie Nick Foles, a preseason star, remains the backup.
"Michael was the quarterback, is the quarterback and will continue to be the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles," Reid said. "I can't make it any more clear than that."
Vick, a four-time Pro Bowl player, has struggled this season and Philadelphia (3-4) has lost three straight games.
Reid didn't endorse Vick after Sunday's 30-17 loss to Atlanta, only that he would evaluate all his starters. Vick then put up little fight for his job and said he would support whatever decision Reid makes.
After Thursday's practice, Reid said he thought Vick played one of his best games of the season against the Falcons. Vick was a pedestrian 21 of 35 for 191 yards and a touchdown. Vick had a rare turnover-free performance, though, after throwing eight interceptions and losing five fumbles in the first six games.
In another sign of support, Reid called Vick the leader of the Eagles.
Vick gave Reid good reason to feel confident in his leadership abilities this week. He called a players' only meeting on Wednesday and addressed the team, along with a handful of other veterans, telling the Eagles there was still time to salvage the season.
He's right. You only need to look at last season in the NFC East, when the inconsistent Eagles still had a chance to win the division late in the year, despite a 4-8 start.
Tight end Brent Celek said the Eagles need to change how they are playing if they're going to make a late run at the playoffs.
"This season's not lost, but there needs to be some drastic changes and we need to do it," he said. "It needs to be shown on the field."
Celek, who has 28 catches and a touchdown, refused to elaborate on what kind of drastic changes the Eagles should implement.
"It's a lot of different things," he said. "Like I said, I'm not going to go into it."
He knows one of the major shakeups won't affect Vick.
Vick said "it wasn't news" that he remained the starter because Reid never told him his job was in jeopardy. And he said he believed he's still one of the best players in the NFL, even if the numbers and record prove otherwise.
Vick led Philadelphia to comeback wins with touchdowns on the final drive of the first two games this season. But he's been inconsistent and turnover-prone overall. He owns just a 78.6 passer rating, his lowest since joining the Eagles.
Vick fueled speculation he could be benched after Sunday's loss when he said of Reid, "Obviously, he's thinking about making a change at the quarterback position."
That was all the media needed to run with in a town like Philadelphia. And to add to the intrigue, the Eagles were off for three days for weather concerns, leading to speculation that Reid was deep in thought over his quarterbacks.
Turns out, Reid never gave a switch much thought. And the Eagles released a simple statement Wednesday confirming Vick.
"I've got to get my swag back," Vick said. "I got to get back to playing football the way I love to play it and not worry about what's going to happen. That's out of my control. All I can control is how I play and how aggressive I can be."
Vick wasn't the biggest problem against the Falcons. The defense under new coordinator Todd Bowles allowed scores on the first six possessions, including touchdowns on the first three.
The Eagles can still turn things around, become players in the NFC East race and save Reid's job. But they need to hurry. They are 2½ games behind the Giants (6-2) and have consecutive division contests ahead of them after the Saints game.
Reid's already been told by owner Jeffrey Lurie that another 8-8 finish would be "unacceptable."
Most Eagles fans would likely agree.
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