In August 2009 very few, if any, thought that nearly four years later we would be talking about Michael Vick as the center of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. As many know, Vick rose to stardom from 2001-2006 with the Atlanta Falcons, spent seventeen months incarcerated, then shockingly signed with the Eagles to back up Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb in 2009. Then, in 2010, Vick took over for an injured Kevin Kolb in the opener and never gave the job back. At age 30, Vick finally fulfilled the potential everyone believed he always possessed. He was still electrifying as a runner, yet performed terrifically from the pocket in leading the Eagles to the NFC East title and forming one of the greatest redemption stories of our time. In 12 games, Vick accounted for 30 touchdowns (21 passing, 9 rushing). He went on to earn the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and his second career $100 million contract.
That was 2010. This is 2013.
Vick regressed in 2011, showing more of his turnover and injury-prone side. The offensive line play wasn’t great, and the defense was in shambles most of the year under new coordinator Juan Castillo (another discussion for another day). This resulted in an 8-8 record, a colossal disappointment after the free agent spending spree prior to the season. However, the Eagles did end the season on a four-game win streak after Vick returned from injury, which was enough for owner Jeffrey Lurie to retain Reid and in turn, Vick. The belief was that the lockout hurt Vick as the new starting quarterback and all the new pieces didn’t have time to develop chemistry.
Things were obviously expected to improve in 2012. All the talent that was stockpiled would have a full offseason to become a true team. Lurie declared that another 8-8 season was “unacceptable” and changes would ensue if the team disappointed again.
Vick had his offseason with the team, and worked extremely hard to right the wrongs from 2011. However, the offensive line was a wreck from the get-go. Vick already had suffered various injuries in the preseason. He returned for the regular season and despite struggling, still led the Eagles to a 3-1 start and one defensive stop in Pittsburgh from 4-1. The rest of 2012 is too painful for me to type so I’ll leave it at this: Andy Reid is out, Chip Kelly is in.
Due to his contract, Vick could have been released before the Super Bowl at virtually no cost. Based off of his 2012 performance and Andy Reid’s departure, Vick was believed to be all but done in Philly. However, some believed that Chip Kelly and his utilization of mobile quarterbacks could breathe new life into Vick. This belief was confirmed when the Eagles restructured Vick’s contract to bring him back for the 2013 season. Then Kelly opened up the quarterback spot to competition. Vick now finds himself competing vs. Nick Foles and Matt Barkley for the job.
Wait, a four-time Pro Bowler, 2010 Comeback Player of the Year, two-time runner-up for MVP, and arguably the most electrifying athlete ever to play quarterback has to compete vs. a rookie and a largely unproven second-year player? Vick’s ego has taken a bit of a hit this spring and summer. He has even voiced his frustration of having to compete for his job for the first time in a long, long time.
I believe for Michael Vick to win the job the plan is simple. Keep his mouth shut and just get the job done. Even at age 33, Vick still possesses physical gifts that Barkley and Foles will never have. He has accomplished more than they might (hopefully not) in their entire careers. He also can, true to popular opinion, thrive in Chip Kelly’s offense due to his mobility and incredible physical condition. The toughest challenge is for Vick to not turn the ball over and make quick decisions. That is what Kelly wants. Also, Vick’s accuracy is underrated and he should be fine in that regard. I rarely see Vick throwing the ball at receivers’ feet or behind them on a slant.
There are two ways for Michael Vick to lose this job and likely his spot on the team. He could either continue to voice frustration and simply talk his way out of the job, or continue to turn the ball over in camp and in the preseason. Based off his past history as an accomplished veteran quarterback and the potential he still has, Vick can easily win this job if he avoids the aforementioned issues. Stay humble, quiet, and focused, Mike. The rest will take care of itself.