By Ashley Jones-Quaidoo
PHILADELPHIA—Several storylines dominated the build-up to Friday night’s preseason opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots: Philly coach Chip Kelly’s NFL debut, Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for a recent murder, the fallout from Riley Cooper’s racist gaffe at a Kenny Chesney concert last month.
But the big question looming over the field: Who would win the battle to be the Eagles’ starting quarterback between players Michael Vick and Nick Foles?
Though Philadelphia lost to New England, 31-22, Vick displayed a burning desire to showcase his skills early in the game that paid off with an impressive preseason debut.
The Patriots’ potent offense was on display early, as running back Stevan Ridley rushed up the middle for 62 yards on the second play of the game. Later in the drive, Ridley scored a one-yard touchdown 3:12 into the game to give New England a 7-0 lead. But six minutes later, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tied the game with a striking 47-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.
“It just goes to show that when you are on the same page with your teammates and guys who put their time and effort into the game like you, good things can happen,” Vick said, according to the Eagles’ website.
After replacing Vick in the last half of the first quarter, Foles got off to a rough start, getting sacked and fumbling the ball right out of the shotgun. Later in the game, he earned a first down with a 8-yard pass to Jason Avant. The drive ended with Bryce Brown scoring a touchdown.
Foles completed five of six passes for 43 yards with no touchdowns, while Vick completed four of five passes for 94 yards and one touchdown.
New England added a field goal and racked up two rushing touchdowns to take a 31-14 lead in the third quarter. Though Philadelphia scored again in the fourth, it wasn’t enough to secure a win.
Kelly’s “no-huddle” offense should have kept the opposing defense on its toes, but the sharpness of the Patriots would set the tone for the rest of the night.
Kelly showed appreciation for both quarterbacks and said, “they both got us into the end zone, so I was pleased with how those guys played.”
Mike Quick, former wide receiver of the Eagles and CBS sports analyst, said Vick will have to sustain his performance during the season to earn the starting position. “It doesn’t stop with this pre-season. Everyday you have to prove yourself,” he said.
Kelly may not be any closer to making a decision about who will start as quarterback in the season opener. Still, it will be interesting to see how his offensive strategy positions the team in the NFC East this season.