Two quarterbacks, two increasingly desperate teams

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Michael Vick and Drew Brees came into the NFL the same year.

Now, they're in the same predicament: trying

to bail out two increasingly desperate teams, both teetering on the

edge of collapse.

Brees has essentially become a one-man show for the New Orleans Saints (2-5), who are plagued by a historically leaky defense

and anemic running game, not to mention the lingering effects of a bounty scandal.

For Vick, the stakes are even higher in Monday night's game at the Superdome. He's the face of the struggling Eagles (3-4),

who have lost three straight games, and facing weekly questions about his job security.

If Vick fails to shine against the Saints —

who are giving up 50 yards more per game than the next-worst team —


Philadelphia coach Andy Reid might have little choice except to

change QBs, despite giving No. 7 a strong vote of confidence.

"Things could be a lot better," Vick said. "Not only myself but everybody on this team feels like there is more that they

can do to help put us in position to be satisfied with our record. In this game, you just have to keep pushing and try to

keep getting better every week."

Brees is having another stellar year statistically, ranking second in the league in yards passing, but there's no room for

error. When he struggled last week against the Denver Broncos, the Saints were blown out 34-14.

"I feel like we've gotten better every week

with the exception of last week," Brees said. "We just did not play up

to our

standard, certainly with the hype going into that game, and we

were all hurt by it. But it also lights a fire within all of

us that we don't want that to be the lasting memory people have of

our team. We're better than that, and we need to show them

on Monday night."

Vick was the top overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, the same year Brees was taken with the first pick of the second

round by the San Diego Chargers. Of the 11 quarterbacks drafted that year, they are the only two still on an NFL roster.

"I feel like I've known him a long time," Brees said. "He's obviously had a lot of success in this league, both in Atlanta

and in Philly."

Not so much this season.

Vick has turned it over 13 times — eight

interceptions and five fumbles — and he's coming off a pedestrian

performance in

Philadelphia's ugly 30-17 loss to the Falcons. Right after the

game, a frustrated Reid sounded like he might switch to rookie

Nick Foles. Then, after thinking it over, the coach stressed that

Vick remains the starter, for this week and beyond.

"Michael was the quarterback, is the quarterback and will continue to be the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles," Reid

said. "I can't make it any more clear than that."

Then again, there's just as much speculation

in Philadelphia about Reid's long-term prospects. Owner Jeffrey Lurie

put the

coach on notice after last season's disappointing 8-8 finish, and

the challenge seemed to work when the Eagles started off

with three wins in their first four games — by a total of four

points. Then, the defense squandered late leads in losses to

Pittsburgh and Detroit, costing coordinator Juan Castillo his job.

"It's important that I get my job going in

the right direction and making sure that we win football games and that I


to win football games," Reid said. "We're all accountable for it.

We're all stand-up men and we understand our responsibilities

and we've got to do better. But it starts with me."

Defense isn't the only concern. Despite a seeming abundance of playmakers, from Vick to running back LeSean McCoy to receiver

DeSean Jackson, the Eagles are a dismal 28th in scoring, averaging just 17.1 points a game.

Scoring is usually not a problem for the

Saints, who are sixth in the league with a 27.1-point average, but the

defense has

totally collapsed without coordinator Gregg Williams, who was

banished by his league for his role in the alleged bounty program.

New Orleans is the first team since at least 1950 — and very likely in the history of the NFL — to surrender more than 400

yards in seven straight games. At this rate (474.7), the Saints will shatter the 31-year-old record for yards in a season,

set by the Colts when they were still in Baltimore.

Just how bad is this defense? New Orleans is more than 200 yards worse than league-leading San Francisco (271.4). In fact,

the Saints aren't even close to 31st-ranked Buffalo (424.1).

"If I had the answer, I would say something

and everything would be solved," linebacker Scott Shanle moaned.

"Everybody has

a different explanation, different theories. It hasn't been what

we thought it would be so far. All we can do is try to keep

getting better and see what happens from here on out."

The Saints also rank last in the league in rushing (72.6 yards), and they'll have to get by this week without all-purpose

stud Darren Sproles, who is sidelined with a broken hand.

Which puts even more of a burden on Brees.

"We can't look at the rest of our schedule. We can't look at our division," he said. "We can't look at anything other than

how do we win this week?"