Adam Levitan

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Will Vick Stick?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday’s firing of Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was nationally panned as a “scapegoat” play, an unjust move that saved real culprit Michael Vick.

I don’t see it that way. The Eagles’ defense has as much, if not more talent than most teams in the league. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are among the best corner duos. Jason Babin and Trent Cole are supposed to be dominators. Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins should be beasting up the gut. Rookie Mychal Kendricks is a player and DeMeco Ryans should be a tackle machine. On paper, this unit should be dominant -- not just average as they have been. A change was needed.

Are changes needed on the offensive side of the ball as well? Of course. The problem is that Andy Reid runs the offense and also has substantial organization control. He can’t fire himself.

What he can do is make a change at quarterback, where Michael Vick has turned the ball over 13 times in six games this year and 31 times in his last 19 overall games. Per, here’s what Reid had to say when asked about Vick’s status as the starter Tuesday.

“As I sit here today he’s the starting quarterback. …  I’m just telling the truth to you. That’s what I’m saying to you. Right now Michael Vick is the starting quarterback. I’ve told you that I’m going through and I’m evaluating.”

Note that these statements are eerily similar to the ones he made just hours before canning Castillo.

The situation is complicated because Reid knows he must go deep into the playoffs this year to keep his job. Owner Jeffery Lurie has made that abundantly clear. So the question is if Vick, or rookie Nick Foles, gives the Eagles a better chance to win? What once seemed like an absurd question is viable now. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio suggested Tuesday morning that promoting rookie Nick Foles to the starting lineup could be the "next shoe to drop.”

Look for Vick to keep his job out of the bye, but the leash is going to be tighter than most think. Foles was spectacular in the preseason (40-of-63, 553 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 110.1 QB rating) and if Reid feels the season slipping away, he’ll have to pull the plug on Vick.

I’m still starting Vick in fantasy every week thanks to his running ability, but I’m quietly securing a solid QB2 just in case that shoe does drop.

Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones has a weekly radio show on Tuesday mornings. Of course he does. Anyway, Jones is usually loose-lipped about injuries on the show and didn’t disappoint this week.

Jones confirmed that DeMarco Murray has ligament damage in his foot and will not play in Week 7.

“I think we were encouraged that his sprain was not any more serious than it is,” Jones said. “He’s a tough guy. I regret that we’re not going to have him against Carolina, which looks obvious. I’m encouraged that we’re going to have him as we move along. He’s playing outstanding. He’s going to get better and better.”

Murray is telling teammates he expects to be back for Week 8, but that seems overly optimistic to me. Foot sprains and running backs are a bad mix, even if there’s no fracture.

Felix Jones looked really fresh last week, has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his career and is now looking at 14-18 touches. Let’s hope you practiced proper handcuffing strategy.

Trent Richardson avoided a fracture when he took a helmet to the ribs Sunday, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the clear.

Richardson has rib cartilage damage, a painful injury that can be aggravated when taking hits. And clearly, an NFL running back is going to take hits during a game. Richardson is officially “day to day” and says he’ll play, but this is something to monitor.

The Packers are saying Alex Green will continue to carry a full load. … Ronnie Hillman has passed Lance Ball as the third-down back. He’s on the rise in Dynasty formats. … Darrius Heyward-Bey led all Raiders wideouts in snaps in Week 6, but saw just two targets. Strange. … Kevin Smith sounds resigned to playing behind Joique Bell for the foreseeable future. He was a healthy scratch Sunday.

Kevin Kolb (abdomen) is expected to miss at least six weeks. It’s not really a downgrade to John Skelton -- remember that Skelton won the job out of camp anyway. … Vincent Brown (ankle) is not ready to practice yet.

Jimmy Graham (ankle) is expected to play this week. … The Chiefs are hoping to get Peyton Hillis (ankle) back for Week 8. … Daniel Thomas (concussions) has been cleared for contact. He’ll resume the backup role behind Lamar Miller. … Brian Leonard (ribs) is day-to-day but seems unlikely to play Week 7. Cedric Peerman is the Law Firm’s only backup right now. … Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) is just a little sore. He’s officially “day to day,” just like Isaac Redman (ankle). We’ll know more by Friday.

Adding a different D/ST each week based on matchups is a fine strategy. Here are three units that might be on waivers to consider for streaming purposes:

* For more waiver thoughts at all positions, check out Chris Wesseling’s latest here.

1. VIKINGS vs. Cardinals - Yes, the Vikes got lit up by Robert Griffin III last week. So does everyone. Now they get to face John Skelton and the worst offensive line in football at home. Major upside for big plays on defense.

2. RAIDERS vs. Jaguars - Credit Oakland for going to Atlanta and holding them to 23 points last week. Now they get to come home and should be able to rattle Blaine Gabbert’s cage without a problem.  

3. PATRIOTS vs. Jets - Don’t buy the Jets’ Week 6 offensive outburst. Think about the spot. The Colts were coming off an incredibly emotional win over the Packers and had to go on the road without three of their best defenders. Shonn Greene and gang will come crashing back to earth in Foxboro.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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