Tuesday - Jul 16, 2019

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Observation Deck – Week 8

The highs and lows of the NFL are truly amazing, aren’t they? The undpredictabilty of the league is what makes it the best sport in the world. A couple seasons ago, the media is talking about Eagles’ QB Mike Vick being the MVP of the league, then a year later talking about him being part of the ‘Dream Team.’ And now a possible benching of him during the middle of a must-win season for the entire franchise. Truly unreal.

From One ‘Vick’ To Another

The issue of Michael Vick vs Nick Foles is a matter of who gives the Eagles the best chance to win and that covers so many angles of the game of football. The situation at hand is much deeper than most people realize. It is so much more than just the possible benching of a former Pro-Bowl ‘star’ quarterback. It is about the flow of the game, the confidence the offensive line has in their quarterback, the identity of the offense and even the attitude of the entire team.

When I think of Michael Vick right now, the words erractic, inconsistent and unpredictable come to mind. From play-to-play, series-to-series you can’t count on Vick making the same types of decisions he made the series before and it is affecting everybody around him. Offensive lineman get frustrated when they think they are pass blocking in a certain protection, only to see their QB bail on the pocket prematurely. The lineman almost become confused because they are put at the distinct disadvantage of not knowing which way their QB is about to go. It is very basic, but very true.

Furthermore, the Eagles offense has absolutely, positively, no rhythm. Is this a passing team? Running team? They can’t sustain the offense long enough to create an identity needed in today’s NFL. First possession of the game Sunday vs Atlanta, the Eagles came out, threw an incomplete pass, ran the ball once, then called another pass and Vick took a sack. Atlanta jumped on them, as the Eagles D was on the field for the entirety of the first quarter besides those three plays!! By the second time Vick took the field, the Falcons were already up 14-0. In the third quarter, in both situations where the Eagles could get back in the game when they were down 17-0, Vick had a stretch where he went 1-for-4 passing, with the completion being for zero yards. Then they rushed the ball once on third down and fell short of the sticks. Those plays spanned two different crucial possessions in the second half and is the exact reason why the Eagles should make the switch the rookie Nick Foles.

People might think it is nuts to say a rookie gives this team the best chance to win right now. Foles really does though, and there are a few more reasons why. The entire team would be uplifted rallying around a new cause. It’s true, Vick has run his course in Philly and if you watch him play-in and play-out, it is blatantly obvious he cannot be the future long-term quarterback of the Eagles. Secondly, the Eagles can become a run the football, play action pass, pocket passing football team. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson would welcome the idea of timing routes and more single coverage with eight men in the box. Thirdly, and most importantly, the offense could flow again. Once the running game is established, linebackers and safeties start hesitating in their drops, defensive ends crash down the line of scrimmage on bootlegs and play-calling becomes a much easier task. You might have noticed that I didn’t even mention the fact that this boy Foles can play, which he obviously showcased in the exibition season. And while you don’t really know what you will get with Foles in there, we all should know by now exactly what we ARE going to get from Mike Vick.

Speaking of Vicks…there was another Vick in the NFL that made some noise this past Sunday. Colts RB Vick Ballard. For my money he made the most spectacular play this season. I told people on twitter before the game not to be too excited about the return of Donald Brown because I felt Ballard added a spark and make-you-miss aspect to the Colts offense that Brown doesn’t. I happened to be proven right this time, and it reminded me that in football production really does lead to opportunity.

In the sport of football, no matter what level you might be playing on, once you get an opportunity and make the most of it, things change. Once the uniform is on, and the game starts, a coach only trusts certain players. Once a coach sees a player do something in an actual game that they deem impressive, they have no choice but to gain trust in you and give you the opportunity to do it again. It’s plays like Vick Ballard‘s overtime TD catch and run, that make you realize all talent evalutation in the world sometimes can mislead you. The only thing that truly spawns production is opportunity, but before that, the only thing that spawns opportunity is production.

Quick Hits

When you watch the 49ers football team, don’t you start to feel sorry for their opponent, sometimes. The Cardinals took a beating Monday night, and not just on the scoreboard. A physically dominating performance by San Fran left every Cardinal besides Larry Fitzgerald looking demoralized by the end of the 4th quarter.

If you didn’t catch Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel’s post-game press conference after the miserable Chiefs lost another game Sunday, I will fill you in. This guy didn’t even know how many carries his running backs Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles had. He made it sound like Hillis coming back took away a huge chunk of Charles’ opportunities… Hillis had four carries for 23 yards. Both Crennel and GM Scott Pioli will be out the door in Kansas City after this season’s conclusion.

If you are a manager that has stuck with Darren McFadden this long, you might as well ride it out now. His schedule presents some favorable match-ups in the coming weeks and I see the Raiders getting back to some of the running plays that they have run in the past. In fact, all five of the Raiders’ next games are winnable and controllable. Even their contest against the Baltimore Ravens isn’t one to be feared at this point. McFadden has proven durable thus far in the season, and will continue to get 25 touches a game; it really is only a matter of time until he gets hot against weaker opponents.

There are a few buy-low candidates to target before your league’s trade deadline. My favorite one right now is Texans WR Andre Johnson. While the current manager might be frustrated with his inconsistent production and lack of big play ability right now, Johnson remains the focal point of the Texans passing attack. An attack that I expect to be used more in the coming weeks with the injury to Ben Tate. They can’t keep feeding Arian Foster 24 touches a game. Foster would be worn down by playoff time when things really matter. Expect Schaub to be in a lot of three step drops in the coming weeks to replace the runs that would normally go to Tate. Johnson will be the beneficiary.

Make sure to follow me on twitter @JLanfranca and don’t be afraid to fire off some questions at me about trades, lineups, league issues, etc. Have a great week!

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