Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ defensive weaknesses exploited by Vick, Foles

Associated PressAugust 17, 2013 

Panthers Eagles Football

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin, right, breaks up a pass intended for Carolina Panthers wide receiver David Gettis during the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

MATT ROURKE — AP

— Michael Vick looks rejuvenated in Chip Kelly’s offense and Nick Foles isn’t going away easy.

Both quarterbacks looked sharp and led the Philadelphia Eagles to a touchdown drive in a 14-9 victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

Kelly joked an injury may determine who will be Philadelphia’s starter, and he’s not close to picking one at this point. Kelly wouldn’t even say who will take the first snap next week at Jacksonville.

Carolina has a clear-cut starter in Newton, but he still needs to find his rhythm in the preseason.

Here are five things we learned during Philadelphia’s victory over the Panthers:

1. Michael Vick has regained his confidence: Vick completed his first nine passes before throwing an interception on a Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter after Philadelphia got the ball with 24 seconds left in the half. He finished 9 of 10 for 105 yards and also ran for 20. Through two games, Vick is 13 of 15 for 199 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 113.1.

“I’m having fun playing football,” Vick said. “I fell in love with the game again. I feel in rhythm all the time. The flow in the way we prepare makes me feel I can do it all. I feel like the team can go places.”

2. Nick Foles bounces back well from mistakes: Last week, Foles led the Eagles to a touchdown drive after fumbling on his first series. He started 6 for 6 this week before throwing an interception in the end zone after dropping a shot-gun snap and trying to get rid of the ball. But Foles came back and led the Eagles to a touchdown on his next drive, running it in himself from the 7. Foles was 6 of 8 for 53 yards. He’s 11 of 14 for 96 yards, no TDs, one pick and a passer rating of 65.7 in two games.

“All I can do is correct what I did wrong and improve,” Foles said. “I wanted to go back out there and get the ball in the end zone.”

3. Cam Newton and Carolina’s offense have work to do: Newton led the Panthers to two field goals in the first half. He’s 11 of 23 for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two games. But the Panthers are missing running backs Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart. DeAngelo Williams had 39 yards on 12 carries.

“When you play a fast-strike offense, you have to score touchdowns,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “Field goals are not enough. That wasn’t good enough.”

Newton is looking forward to opening up the playbook.

“It can be very dangerous,” he said of the offense. “It all comes down to us executing the plays.”

4. David Gettis is healthy and making plays: Gettis, who hasn’t caught a pass since 2010, led the Panthers in catches and receiving yards for the second straight week. He had five receptions for 82 yards, improving his chances of making the roster. Gettis started 13 games as a rookie three years ago before knee and hamstring injuries sidelined him for most of the past two seasons.

“I think you need to just focus on making plays early in the season, and I think I was able to do that,” Gettis said. “If all of us are able to do that on offense, it will be a great preseason.”

5. Billy Davis’ defense is coming along: After getting picked apart by Tom Brady and surrendering a ton of yards on the ground last week in a 31-22 loss to New England, the Eagles’ defense was much improved.

The starters played the first half and held the Panthers to 50 yards rushing and two field goals. Davis, the new defensive coordinator, is transitioning the Eagles from a traditional 4-3 defense to a variation of the 3-4.

“Part of stopping people is getting everybody to the ball,” Kelly said. “It’s a lot easier to tackle when there are people swarming to the ball. For the most part, we played with really good effort on that side of the ball.”

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