For a while now, readers and friends alike have given me a somewhat hard time about being so indifferent toward Michael Vick. I don’t dislike him because of the dog fighting thing anymore (I’m over it– he paid a steeper price than anyone before him for that crime). By all accounts, he’s been mostly a model citizen since taking over the reigns as the Eagles’ starting quarterback (or, he has good PR people). He’s extremely entertaining to watch, still gives me an unfair advantage in Madden, and – from a blogging perspective – him being a supremely polarizing figure doesn’t hurt business.
But what I can’t get past, and why I’ve struggled to get overly enthusiastic about the Dream Team or the coming dynasty, is the fact that Michael Vick isn’t that good. Or, put more lightly: the Eagles aren’t going to win a Super Bowl with him.
It continues to boggle my mind why Jeffrey Lurie, a talented businessman, has put all of his eggs in a high-risk, medium-to-high-reward basket. It doesn’t make sense. All teams are built around their quarterback and would be extremely worse-off if he were to get injured. But that situation is magnified for the Eagles. Maybe it’s because their backups are a collective crapshoot, or because, since 1999, their offense has been built around mobile but not-so-fundamentally-sound quarterbacks. Maybe it’s because Vick himself is wildly inconsistent. Maybe it’s because he’s more likely to get injured than the average quarterback. Or, maybe it’s a combination of all those things.
Whatever the reason for the prevailing thought that the Eagles season hangs in the balance every time Vick gets hit, one thing is clear, to me, at least: this isn’t going to end the way Lurie wants it to– with a Super Bowl win.
Only once has Vick played in all 16 of his team’s games (2006, with the Falcons). Though he’s played 15 games three times, he’s had his 2003, 2010 and 2011 seasons significantly shortened due to injury, and he comes into the 2012 season off of two preseason injuries. As such, the collective gasp we take every time Vick holds the ball too long or improvises outside the pocket is well-founded. It’s not a matter of if… it’s a matter of when. When will Vick get hurt, and for how long?
That’s concern number one. But let’s, if for just a moment, pretend that injuries won't shorten Vick’s season and career. Let’s be silly. Let’s play pretend. I’ll be a dragon, you be a believer.
Even if Vick doesn’t get hurt, will it really matter all that much? Could the Eagles really win the Super Bowl with him? Is he really that good? The whole thing feels like the Kevin Kolb situation to me. He was jammed down our throats as being some great quarterback, even though he had shown us very little. Ultimately, he didn’t work out here and it’s not going so well in Arizona. That's how I feel with Vick– what we keep being told and what we're led to believe is not what we're actually seeing on any sort of consistent basis.
Perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to the Eagles was Vick throwing for 4,000 yards and 17 TDs against the Redskins on Monday Night Football in 2010. Not only has the national media bought into (created?) the hype, but I think the Eagles did, too. Vick certainly has*.
It’s mostly a bunch of shit.
Facts, because I’m doing facts this week: Since starting the 2010 season with no interceptions in his first seven games (which sent the hype machine into overdrive), Vick has been intercepted 24 times in 19 games. I’m shittay at math, but I think that’s more than one per game, Holmes. And that’s not good.
Also not good (relative) is Vick turning in four 100+ QB ratings in those first seven games of 2010 but only six in the 19 games since.
More bad: Last year Vick was 14th in the league in QB rating, 19th in completion percentage and 11th in yards per attempt. All decent, but hardly great. His highest-ranked meaningful metric? He was 10th in interceptions.
Now, none of these stats are atrocious. In fact, most are better than average. But we’re somehow led to believe that Vick is the guy we saw for a few games in 2010, not the guy he’s been for, oh, I don’t know, the rest of his career.
The reason he was so good for a few games two years ago was because he caught defenses off-guard with what he had left in the tank and, for the first time in his career, had a creative coach drawing up plays for him. I’ve written this before: Once defenses adjusted to how Reid was using Vick, the Eagles quickly came back down to earth.
The one thing that separates Vick from other quarterbacks, of course, is his running ability. He was 35th in the league in rushing last season, second amongst quarterbacks (Cam Newton finished 26th). But the very thing that separates Vick from other average passers is the thing we want him to do less of this season… so he doesn’t get hurt. It’s a Catch 22 (or, intercepted before it got to 22, if Vick’s throwing) if there ever was one: To be a top 10 quarterback, Vick has to run. And if he runs a lot, he’s going to get hurt. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not a winning formula.
Despite overwhelmingly positive feelings toward the Eagles during the offseason and massive sympathy felt for Reid, I once again, like last year, found myself subconsciously rooting against the Eagles in the third quarter yesterday. I didn’t want them to lose… but part of me still felt like that would ultimately lead to a better outcome than a 10-6 season with first round playoff loss. I want to feel differently – for real, I do – but Vick (and Reid) haven’t shown me much over the past few years to convince me otherwise.
I'd love to be proven wrong this year… but I don't think I will be.
*He talks like LeBron James and Allen Iverson at his press conferences. “My teammates” may be the most grating phrase a self-absorbed athlete can use, because by it’s very nature that statement makes the player bigger than the team.