Michael Vick is the most polarizing Eagle I’ve ever seen. He brings out some really strong reactions in people, both for and against him. So let’s talk about that for a minute.
Some of the people against Vick still are unhappy with his dogfighting days and Vick’s criminal behavior. Those folks are going to pretty much hold a grudge against him for life. That’s their right. Vick did some horrible things and if they feel that way, there’s nothing that will really change it.
Other fans against Vick used to support him. They fell in love with the guy from 2010, who looked so special. Those fans bought in, hook, line and sinker. Vick then had a mediocre 2011 and a bad 2012 season. These fans don’t feel they can trust Vick because even if he plays 15 or 16 games and has a good year…will 2011 or 2012 come back in the future?
I get where that group is coming from and think it is a reasonable mindset. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
The Vick fans still see a guy with dynamic physical ability. He has one of the strongest arms in the game. He can make breathtaking passes. Vick isn’t as fast as he was in his prime, but he remains one of the fastest QBs in the league. Vick is very elusive and is still incredibly hard to bring down. Vick is also ultra-competitive. He is tough and will do anything to win.
Watching Vick’s deep ball to DeSean in the preseason opener was a flashback to 2010. He put the ball right on the money. That pass enabled DeSean to be a weapon and deliver an “easy” TD. Vick’s arm brings out a dimension in the receivers that isn’t there with Foles. Vick’s mobility gives the offense a true X-factor that isn’t there with Foles.
I completely understand the Vick supporters and why they like him so much. Part of the equation with them is that they feel Andy Reid mis-used Vick the last couple of years and that greatly affected his performance. They think the new staff and new offense will reveal Vick to be the great player they see.
I think there is a bit too much hoping/wishing here, but do understand the Reid criticism. Andy really lost me in the 2012 opener when Vick was struggling so badly and Andy had him drop back 60 plus times. That’s just insane.
The point I have to make here is that if Vick was truly a great player, the results would be there. Tom Brady has played in 3 different offenses with the Patriots and has changed his game each time. Peyton Manning built his career with elite skill players, but in 2009 he was surrounded by mediocre talent and took his game to a new level. Peyton was handed lemons and turned them into a Super Bowl appearance.
Vick is a great physical talent, but he’s not a great QB. Never was, never will be…in the NFL. He might have a breakout season in 2013, but if you need the right coach, the right blocking and the right system in order to be good…you aren’t a truly great player. Those guys have a way of lifting everything around them. Vick, at his very best, is still a notch below that.
Most Eagles fans are going to cheer for Vick, no matter who they wanted. Vick is the QB and he’s going to get their support. The level of support and patience he gets will depend on what the fans thought pre-competition. His critics will point out every flaw. His supporters will focus on the highlights. As with most things, the truth will be somewhere in the middle.
We don’t know what to expect from Vick this year. A good preseason doesn’t mean a good season, but it does help.
Vick was a bad player over the last 2 summers. That carried over to those seasons. The young QBs who lit it up in 2012 had good to great summers. They showed what they can do.
Someone asked about the fact things are so vanilla. Do we get a true read on QBs? You have to understand that works both ways. The defenses aren’t gameplanning for the QB, but the offense isn’t gameplanning for the defense. Both groups are running a mixture of base plays and a few wrinkles. The goal is to see how the players perform. Coaches don’t want to win based on X’s and O’s. That gives you a false positive and hurts your ability to evaluate individuals, QB and otherwise.
Vick showed terrific skills this summer. He flat out won the job. Vick was calm in the pocket. His first instinct was to throw, not to run. Vick threw the ball as well as I’ve ever seen. He made good decisions. There were checkdowns and aggressive downfield throws. Vick ran twice and looked good, but those runs came within the framework of the offense.
Kelly talks about wanting a QB to be like a point guard. Get the ball to the playmakers and let them do the hard work. Vick did that this summer. Even back in 2010 it was the Michael Vick show. Now it is the Eagles offense, with Vick at the helm.
I’m curious as heck to see what Vick can do this year. Playing in Kelly’s offense will make a difference. Andy Reid wanted to throw the ball and that’s just not Vick’s strength. Kelly wants to run it. That will take pressure off Vick and should help him to function better. Vick and Reid loved the big play. Kelly will mix them in, but prefers quick plays that give the playmakers a chance to make something happen.
I have no idea what to expect of Vick this year. I think he’ll play well, but can he have a great season? Sure. Could he still prove to be more inconsistent than we prefer? Sure. One of Vick’s biggest struggles over the years has been playing consistently well. Kelly’s offense may just change that.
Can Vick stay healthy? This is another tough question. Vick has missed games throughout his career. He only played all 16 games once (2006). Vick’s competitive nature works against him at times. He doesn’t ever want to give up on a play and as we all know…there are times when you should do just that and punt. Has Kelly changed this? Is Vick still going to play with reckless abandon?
What does this mean for 2014? I think Kelly is taking the approach that he’ll deal with this season now and 2014 down the road. Let’s say Vick does have a sensational season. The Eagles will have a problem in deciding what to do with him, but that would be a good problem. If Vick is mediocre, the answer is obvious. If he’s somewhere in between, Vick’s future will be decided by circumstances. If the Eagles go 10-6 and can’t get a franchise QB, maybe they keep him. If the team is 6-10 and can get a stud QB, maybe they go that route.
The easy choice would have been to stick it out with Nick Foles. Kelly could then see if he’s the guy or not. If the Eagles had a crappy record, they’d be in line for a high pick. If Foles played well, Kelly would have a young QB to work with. Kelly wanted the QB competition. Kelly wanted someone to win the job. Kelly wants to win this year. He needs good QB play for that to happen. One way to find a good QB is to let them battle. It brought out the best in Vick and Foles. Michael Vick would not be playing like this if Kelly just handed him the job.
I understand that some of you aren’t happy with Kelly’s desire to try to win now. The NFL is different than it used to be. You don’t need to go 1-15 to change things. Pete Carroll has gone 7-9, 7-9 and 11-5 and has the Seahawks looking like a SB team. Jim Harbaugh was 13-3 and 11-4-1 with the Niners. They did go to the SB last year. Those games came over from college, like Kelly. I’m sure Chip has seen their success and studied their approach. He knows what can and can’t be done.
What does all of this mean for Foles and Matt Barkley? Some fans have brought up trading Foles. No way. Foles is under contract for 2 more years at a cheap rate. He is a QB and young player. You only deal him if some team makes a huge offer and that is highly unlikely. Could Foles be the starter in 2014? Sure. Kelly will watch him practice all year. If Vick does get hurt, Foles will have a chance to impress on the field. Kelly could fall in love with Foles and decide he is the guy for the future.
Barkley is still a mystery. He’ll play a lot in the preseason finale and that will give us an idea of where he is right now. He could be a backup or future starter. Like Foles, Barkley will need to impress in practice over the course of the year.
The Eagles future QB could be getting ready to play on Saturdays this fall. You can go buy a copy of the Eagles Almanac to find out some early thoughts on a few QB prospects.
Vick is the QB for now. We’ll cheer for him. We’ll criticize him. We’ll boo, if we need to. And that’s just the 1st quarter of the season opener. Should be an interesting year.