A Vick-tory for the Eagles? Predictions from a Giants Fan
I am a New York Giants fan. I absolutely despise the Philadelphia Eagles. I hate them more than I hate people who say baseball is dying and hockey is stupid, more than I hate the Cowboys, Redskins, any other team in the NFL, any other team in any league for that matter.
Now you know how hard this will be for me, since what hurts me more than anything about the NFL season so far is how smart the Eagles have been.
The Eagles were already in turmoil halfway through their first game of the season. The Packers had built up a 20-3 lead, center Jamaal Jackson and Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver had already left the game with season-ending injuries, and quarterback Kevin Kolb had left the game with a concussion following a blindside hit by Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews. The season was just beginning, and yet it already seemed like the Eagles were getting ready to make a top-10 draft pick next April.
Here’s how bad it seemed then: Michael Vick finished the game at quarterback in Kolb’s place. That’s right, Michael Vick, the running QB with no legs left who could never throw with much accuracy to begin with, the disgraced dogfighter relegated to the occasional Wildcat snaps and nothing more, the most hated player in professional sports. There was no way Michael Vick could quarterback an NFL team anymore, much less against the Packers’ staunch defense.
But here’s where the story, a story I would have loved as a Giants fan to have unfolded as it seemed it would, started to unravel. Vick spearheaded a furious comeback for the Eagles, falling just short with a 27-20 loss. With Kolb injured, Vick led the team to a win the following week against the Detroit Lions, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns, enough to wrest the starting job away from a healthy Kolb and pick up another win with four more touchdowns (one rushing) over Jacksonville in Week 3.
There are two astounding parts to this story. One is that Michael Vick, of all people, has subverted the politics of sports. It is an unwritten, yet widely referenced rule, that a player should not lose a starting job due to injury. The bigger the spotlight, the more this rule applies. Yet in Philly, a Mecca for passionate football fans, the fresh-faced franchise QB whose talent and potential led the team to trade Donovan McNabb, a potential Hall of Famer who still has a few years left in him, was sent to the bench because the washed up dogfighter had a couple of good games.
And that’s the second surprise: Michael Vick is damn good. If anything, he might somehow be better. He may have lost half a step, but he has reemerged from the darkness as a better pocket QB and a better manager of the offense. Since facing that 20-3 deficit, the Vick-led Eagles have outscored opponents 80-42 over ten quarters. On top of that, Vick has thrown for three touchdowns of 45 yards or more, including two against Jacksonville, even though he had never thrown more than one touchdown of 45 yards in any previous season. He is a better quarterback now than he ever was been before.
What Vick did was one of the more odious acts ever perpetrated by an athlete, or by any celebrity for that matter. I’m not saying you have to like him, but Vick has done his time, and now he’s the best quarterback on that team. The Eagles have reviewed their options, they’ve picked the right guy for the job, and they’re now playing very good football. As much as it pains me to say it, Philadelphia looks like one of the best teams in football right now—and as long as Vick is at the helm, it will likely stay that way.