A couple of weeks ago, while we were broadcasting Poor Man’s PTI, RJ called in and informed me that the Eagles had just signed Michael Vick. Like the rest of football America, I was shocked and dumbfounded. Not because I had any objection to Michael Vick being back in the NFL but because I had no idea what the Eagles wanted Michael Vick on the team for.
The only time I’ve been confident in an NFC Championship game was when the Eagles took on the Atlanta Falcons. There was no way that Michael Vick, even with his considerable athletic skills, could read and react to the defense that Jim Johnson was going to throw at him. Rarely am I that correct on anything.
The problem with Vick then is the problem with Vick now — he’s just not a very good quarterback.
First, a word on PETA. PETA might be the single biggest waste of space on the planet. Instead of trying to get people to relate to their message, they take it to the extreme and make us end up hating them instead. When they tell me about the chickens at KFC, I order an additional bucket of extra crispy.
My problem isn’t with Vick at all. What he did was awful and nothing that I would do — I can’t even cook live lobsters but that’s probably a different issue… The man served his time and paid his debt to society. Yet, everyone is making him out to be the devil incarnate. I believe it was McNabb who said “Let he who is without sin throw the first pass over the head of the wide open receiver.”
Leonard Little killed someone and nobody came out to protest his reinstatement to the NFL. I realize the majority of people are idiots but Leonard Little killed someone! Where was the outrage then?
In the end, if Vick is able to produce on the field, the vast majority of fans won’t care about the dogs anymore. The protesters (all three of them that were outside the Linc in Vick’s debut) will drift away and find some other cause that’s worthy of unison chanting and sign creating. In fact, right after the final preseason game, the protester and ESPN cameras will be gone for… oh, about 5 weeks. The news machine must be fed. And Michael Vick the quarterback isn’t as interesting as Michael Vick the dog killer. The protesters will be drowned out by 50,000 fans in green that just want to see a victory.
Now, let’s get back to football. This move has disaster written all over it.
I’m not concerned about the apparent chaos and general disarray that seemed to surround every play in which Vick entered the game. In fact, what Andy Reid and company have done in Vick’s first game is really smart. You throw everything you can out there just to see if it works. And if it doesn’t, it’s just preseason. In addition, you’re putting some new looks on tape that will have defensive coordinators guessing even if you never actually use those plays in the regular season. While seeing McNabb flanked out wide might make DCs laugh, the thought of Vick wreaking havoc in the Wildcat will keep a few up at night.
In theory, Vick gives the Eagles another dimension, another dangerous weapon to go along with Desean Jackson and Brian Westbrook.
But in reality, here’s the problem with the Vick move: Donovan McNabb won’t be able to handle it. McNabb, at this and every other point in his career, is a much better quarterback than Michael Vick will ever be. Unfortunately, the old adage that the backup QB is the most popular player on a losing team is one of the greatest truths in football. While Eagles fans are by and large a savvy group, they are not immune to chanting for the backup, especially if McNabb and/or the Eagles are stinking up the joint.
The Vick Circus has been a huge smokescreen that has obscured the fact that this Eagles team has a boatload of question marks. The O-line, despite “winning” the Jason Peters sweepstakes, might get every single QB killed this season until the Eagles have to bring back Koy Detmer to lead the troops. On the flip side, the defense has looked horrible and the linebacking corps might be among the worst in the NFC. While the offense can hope that the return of Brian Westbrook solves any firepower issues, the defense has no such player as projected panacea.
Looking at the Eagles schedule, the first 5 weeks (+bye) is a relatively easy stretch (at Carolina, New Orleans, KC, Tampa, at Oakland) and unless I’m off by a mile on the talent of this team, they should be able to get to 4-1 or at least 3-2. The problem lies in the next brutal stretch which includes 3 straight games against division foes and back to back road games against San Diego and Chicago. If Donovan (and yes, he will get the blame) falters during this stretch, the chants for Vick to run the offense instead of being the gimmick will be cranked up to 11.
Up until now, Donovan has said the right things about Vick’s signing and potentially giving up 8-10 snaps a game. I do not doubt that he was instrumental in lobbying the Eagles to give Vick a second chance. But Donovan has lobbied for another high profile player before. And while Vick isn’t the psychopath (ego wise) that TO was, there’s no question that Vick will want to be the starting QB sooner or later. He’s no stranger to ego.
Remember that the Eagles last blew up when Donovan felt that TO was becoming more of a fan favorite and getting the love that he has never received from the Philly faithful. What is going to happen when the Eagles lose a few on the road and Donovan struggles in the first half as the Eagles fans see the season starting to get out of control? “We Want Vick” might have been seen as Eagles fans welcoming Vick into the fold in preseason but when it breaks out in full throat as McNabb goes through one of his funks, it’s going to be a full on nuclear meltdown.
I believe Andy Reid’s reclamation project of Michael Vick had sound football strategy behind it. After all, Reid isn’t foolish enough to take on the Vick headache simply for the sake of being a good person. But what he’s failed to consider (and this time, it’s mental rather than physical) is the flaws of the quarterback that he’s inextricably linked to. If it all comes down to whether McNabb can handle the perceived slights by the fans and the media, then this season has disaster written all over it.