The Michael Vick Experiment In Philly Isn't Over Just Yet
By Scott Daniels
He holds onto the ball too long. He’s too old. The guy is one hit away from retirement. These are just a few of the criticisms that Michael Vick is all too familiar with at this point in his career. After a miserable 2012 campaign, many are wondering just how much longer he can remain a viable threat in the NFL.
This will be Vick’s 12th season in the NFL. Although he’s had somewhat of a tumultuous career due in large part to activity off the field, Vick entered the league in 2001 and literally changed how the quarterback position is played. His freak athleticism and uncanny ability to create plays on the run made him a pioneer. He was endorsed by Nike, given a $100 million deal and was virtually untouchable.
Then the unthinkable happened: dog fighting, lies and a felony conviction. Vick went from king of the NFL to a prison inmate. He served 21 months in prison for his crimes, and he eventually reentered the league — this time as a Philadelphia Eagle — in 2009.
Vick had a remarkable season in 2010, throwing for 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He did, unfortunately, fumble the ball 11 times, but still managed to lead the Eagles to an NFC East title and a 10-6 season. Vick would come dangerously close to defeating the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card playoffs that year, but was picked off in the waning moments of the game — talk about a “what if” moment. The Packers would go onto win the Super Bowl.
For Vick, the last two seasons have not been ideal. Plagued with injuries, Vick was the focal point of an underperforming offense. His line forced him out of the pocket way too much. He took unnecessary and damaging hits, many resulting in turnovers. He was demonized in the Philly media for holding onto the ball too long, and his status as an elite quarterback was now in question.
Vick was injured because he wasn't protected, he held onto the ball because he had no other option and was unfairly blamed for the fallacies of an entire team. Simply put, Vick is far from finished. His quickness and ability to flick the ball downfield make him dangerous to any secondary. At 32, he can still run the option, but will certainly need to keep his hits to a minimum. Vick enters this season with a revamped, healthy offensive line. His new head coach, Chip Kelly, wants his quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly. If Vick adheres, he’ll not only be serviceable in this new, somewhat mysterious offense, but he’ll be the driving force that leads the Eagles back to the playoffs.
Vick’s resurgence will be accompanied with the plethora of weapons he has to choose from. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin know what he’s capable of, and they have familiarity with him. LeSean McCoy and Vick are dual threats coming out of the backfield, while Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz only add to Vick’s arsenal.
There’s no question that Vick should be the starter heading into the 2013 season. He knows the personnel on the offensive side, and he should fit in perfectly in a read-option set — if that’s what Kelly plans to implement.
Vick is still dangerous, and he’ll prove just that if he gets the opportunity.