Chip Kelly has yet to name a starting quarterback for Week 7. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Not every team has the luxury of an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. In this week's Cover-Two, Chris Burke and Doug Farrar take their picks at QB for a trio of teams with brewing controversies.
Philadelphia: Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles
Chris Burke: Vick. This alone should not be the deciding factor for Chip Kelly, but I get the feeling that it would be easier to switch from Vick to Foles in a pinch than vice versa. In other words, I'd feel more comfortable with Vick as the starter and Foles as the reliever.
Vick also lets Kelly keep more of his playbook on the table -- one of the main reasons he was the clear No. 1 quarterback for the Eagles coming out of the preseason. Foles' passing numbers have been impressive thus far, but Vick has almost 300 more rushing yards. Obviously, Kelly can work his offense around a less-mobile Foles. Why do that, though, when Vick makes so many more options available?
Doug Farrar: Foles. As much as Vick seems to be a perfect fit for Kelly's offense, there is a random and unpredictable aspect to Vick's game -- even when he's at his most productive -- that actually counters what Kelly wants to do. Foles, though still developing, appears to better understand his role in Kelly's offense, while Vick (at times) has seemed almost overwhelmed by the speed with which the Eagles now run things. Always prone to playing too quickly in the pocket, Vick seems to break down in certain no-huddle situations, ending drives and turning the speed advantage into a burden for the Philly defense.
Also, let's be honest: This team didn't go 4-12 a year ago because Andy Reid is a bad coach -- it did so because the talent overhaul in Philly will take multiple years. The Eagles seem to have the right approach in that regard, and extending Vick's time over the short term at the expense of Foles' development seems counterintuitive. The Eagles will most likely draft the optimal quarterback for their system in 2014, and Foles would then have the experience to be an Eagles staple -- the backup quarterback who can come in on short notice and help his team win.
Houston: Matt Schaub vs. T.J. Yates vs. Case Keenum
Burke: Yates. If there is a correct answer here, I have no idea what it is. Much of this decision will depend on Schaub's health, but it's not as if Yates lit the world on fire after replacing an injured Schaub in Week 6.
This selection really boils down to two factors:
1. I don't think Keenum would give the Texans much of a chance to win right now -- he's still a project (at best) with no NFL experience.
2. It's hard to envision Schaub suddenly finding any magic touch. At least by throwing Yates into the lineup, the Texans could hope to muster an emotional lift.
Farrar: T.J. Yates -- for now. The Texans are in the kind of nightmare scenario that generally winds up with all kinds of people getting fired. They gave an enormous contract extension to a limited quarterback, and watched in horror as the NFL caught up to his limitations. Schaub is shell-shocked at this point, and a trip to Kansas City next Sunday to face the league's best defense won't help him at all.
The Texans have other issues that have nothing to do with Schaub -- their formerly outstanding defense is leaking all over the place, their once-great offensive line has fallen into disrepair and the offensive balance that Schaub requires is a thing of the past. It's not that Yates is any better than Schaub, but Houston is at a clear tipping point, and maybe a new quarterback will wake up the rest of the team.
Minnesota: Matt Cassel vs. Christian Ponder vs. Josh Freeman
Burke: Freeman. Assuming that Freeman has adapted well to Minnesota and has at least some grasp of the playbook, this should be an easy decision. Cassel proved again in Sunday's loss to the Panthers that he's little more than an inconsistent fill-in starter, and that's probably the same role Ponder is destined for from now on. For all that went wrong for him in Tampa Bay under Greg Schiano, Freeman still has untapped upside and the tools necessary to succeed. Given that the Vikings sort of lucked in to a viable starter, they should take advantage by dropping Freeman into the lineup.
Farrar: Freeman. The Vikings know exactly what they have in two of their three quarterbacks. Christian Ponder is a limited arm talent who gets balky under pressure, and Matt Cassel is a somewhat awkward mover with a decent arm and a need for structure around him. In Freeman, as I detailed last week, the Vikings have someone they've seen beat their defense with mobility and deep throws as much as he scuttled himself with inconsistency at times.
That's been Freeman's NFL career in a nutshell, but it's also abundantly clear that Freeman is the most talented quarterback on the Vikings' roster. If the Vikings weren't aware of that, they wouldn't have given him $3 million for part of a season in which he'll surely start sooner than later. Given what we've seen from Ponder and Cassel, sooner would be best.
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