|Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press|
|A focused and determined Michael Vick had an incredible year in which he led Philly to the NFC East crown.|
Injury is the only thing that could stop himI believe we have yet to see the best from Michael Vick. Let's not forget that he was the backup to Kevin Kolb during last offseason, and all of the Eagles' energy was on grooming Kolb to pick up where Donovan McNabb left off.
Let's remember just how long it's been since Vick had anything close to a normal offseason, or an offseason when he knew that come the first day of training camp he was without a doubt the starter. Been quite some time.
The offensive line should improve. The weapons are there all over the field. And those weapons are young and only getting better. Vick will have an even better feel for them come September and will have the "luxury" of a full offseason of mentally and physically knowing where he stands and what he will be asked to do.
To me, a crushing injury is the only thing that keeps him from being a top-five quarterback and perhaps the most exciting player in the NFL in 2011.
Now that he's a different man, yesI see no reason why Michael Vick can't repeat 2010. His revival stemmed primarily from two factors: 1) He was in far better physical condition than he was when he joined the team in 2009, not long after his nearly two-year incarceration; 2) He benefited greatly from the excellent coaching he received from two of the very best quarterback mentors in the business: Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Vick finally managed to become a complete quarterback, something he had never been with the Atlanta Falcons. He is every bit as confident in his ability to make plays with his throwing arm as in his ability to do so with his legs. Vick also appears to have grown comfortable with being a leader and continues to show that he is a different man than the one who entered prison.
Offseason circumstances work against VickI believe it will be difficult for Michael Vick to repeat his sensational performance of a season ago. Teams have spent the entire offseason preparing for a Vick-led Eagles offense, and the adjustments he will face this year will challenge his skills as a passer more than ever. Although I'm sure he will eventually catch up to ever-changing defenses he will face, the lack of offseason workouts and mini-camps will hinder Vick's development as a passer. I'm worried he will revert to using his legs as the primary means of moving the Eagles' offense this year.
Opponents might have Vick figured outTo me, this will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the season. Michael Vick's 2010 was magical, but was it a one-year flash, like Brett Favre had in 2009 before falling through a trap door last season? Statistically, Vick's 21 touchdowns to six interceptions will be a tough ratio to duplicate. To only throw six interceptions is incredible for any quarterback, so I'd expect that figure to go up if he plays at least 13 games. However, in the Eagles' system and with the weapons at his disposal, Vick actually could throw more touchdowns. I think he will be judged more on wins and big plays in the clutch this season. With opponents having a season's worth of film on Vick in this system, both could be harder to come by.
Expect Vick's production to increaseNow that he is the starter and doesn't have to earn the starting job, Michael Vick should not only continue to play like he did in 2010, but increase his production. The young players around him are a year older, and they will play even better. I do worry about how often Vick is sacked. Last year he was sacked every 12 pass attempts and over his career is sacked once in every 10 throws. I don't think he can stay on the field for 16 games if he continues to take that kind of pounding. As for running with the ball, he needs to be more calculated. Last year he averaged eight rushing attempts a game, and it would better serve him for the long haul to drop that down to five or six a game.
A repeat of 'The Michael Vick Experience'Not only will Michael Vick be able to repeat his 2010 performance in 2011, I believe he will exceed it. In the past, the prodigious skills that were dubbed "The Michael Vick Experience" wowed us and had us talking, laughing, and marveling around the water cooler. In 2010, we saw those same skills, now with a liberal dose of "preparation, study and understanding" added, and I see no reason why the "new" Michael Vick won't continue to improve and thrust himself into the conversation of best QBs in the NFL.
Vick could be in for a letdownI don't see Vick repeating his 2010 performance. Going a step further, and I realize this isn't the popular view, I think Vick might be a hair overrated -- because his career is being judged by one year. He's a great player, and was statistically awesome last season. However, the bottom line is that it was one year. He did not play particularly well in the playoffs, something that other quarterbacks would be grilled for (I'm thinking of a guy in Vick's division.) People also forget what an erratic quarterback he was in Atlanta. Exciting yes, consistent no.
He's so unique historically, and can take over a game at times. Still, the reality is that he's in his 30's now, and will have to adjust his style of play slightly to stay upright, so to speak. So that makes 2011 interesting ... can he play the same style of ball? The better LeSean McCoy is, the more effective Vick will be. But putting up the numbers he did last year will be pretty tough to do for any quarterback, not just Vick.