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Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles still court controversy at 3-1

PHILADELPHIA -- Unfair as it often is, everything the Philadelphia Eagles do these days seems to be coated with a thick layer of cynicism. Win three games? Not by enough points. Too many turnovers. Too little balance.

On Sunday, though, the Eagles might have finally managed to win a game few could criticize. But hey, since we're sure somebody will try, we'll be the first to give it a shot.

First, Andy Reid leaves us all to wonder about Michael Vick's job security last week. Now, Vick gets one measly win without a turnover under his belt, and he's jumping down his boss' throat for his coaching decisions near the end of the game.

"I don't believe in icing the kicker," said Vick, clearly hinting that maybe Reid is the one who should continue to be evaluated in the wake of Philadelphia's 19-17 near-loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night. "You let them kick, and if it's good, it's going to be good. If not, you can't play games.

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"I don't know who started that, but we have to end that tradition."

Oh, sure, Vick will probably try to say he was "joking" when he's asked about it Monday. But we all know the only joke here, of course, is the Eagles -- who are so bad they haven't even managed to win a single game this season by more than two points.

Everybody knows Vick just got lucky against a Giants team that prefers to wait until the end of the season to turn up the heat so they don't waste unnecessary energy.

"(Vick) had the interceptions in the beginning (of the season), then he had the fumbles (last week)," Reid said Sunday, obviously trying to make sure we didn't forget about Vick's previous issues. "So now he had no turnovers. That's a good thing."

In other words ... whoop-dee-doo! What's next? Is Reid supposed to pat a receiver on the back every time he catches one stupid pass? Should he publicly thank the kicker every time he makes an extra point?

Don't worry, Eagles fans: There's a lesson to be learned in all of this. It's a little something called interpretation. And if you actually absorbed the tone of anything written to this point as literal, you're now guilty of misinterpretation. In such a drastic sense, it sounds borderline ridiculous, doesn't it?

But over the span of, say, the Eagles' first three games, the constant questions about the collective start have been no less peculiar. Before Sunday, the Eagles' season had been interpreted as nothing short of inadequate. Yet here they are, somehow 3-1, still probably causing some cynics to wake up Monday morning saying, "Yeah, but ..."

Yeah, but what? No matter how you dice it, the Eagles are indeed 3-1.

As of Monday morning, they sit atop the division, and their only loss is to the Arizona Cardinals -- one of only three remaining undefeated teams. The Eagles haven't been lucky to this point. In fact, you could even argue they've been unlucky at times.

So when do we start shifting gears and interpreting the Eagles as a team that's learning to overcome issues while also winning games?

Is that just too optimistic for our taste?

"Some of the turnovers really have been unlucky, and that just piles on," tight end Brent Celek said. "We got two wins while things were piling on. If we can get rid of those, think of how much better of a football team we can be. Sometimes those things happen, and you have to overcome them, and I think it's huge that we've been able to do that."

If you want to interpret the start of the Eagles' season as a house of cards, mainly because Vick has been a turnover machine who has spent way too much time on his back while the offense has been running way too many passing plays, then go right ahead.

But hey, at the risk of being overly positive (oh, stop cringing), maybe there's another way to view this whole thing. Last year, the Eagles were terrible at the end of games. They couldn't close, and Vick was as guilty as anyone. This season, they've hung around despite some serious mishaps -- and they've hung on like they did Sunday against the Giants.

If the Eagles can continue to pull out these types of games while also learning how to mature as a team in the process, then maybe they'll be able to carry this momentum into the later portions of the season.

All week in Philadelphia, the banter ranged from finding better balance in the running game on offense to limiting turnovers to keeping Vick from getting sacked. On Sunday, Vick didn't turn it over at all and wasn't sacked until the fourth quarter. Running back LeSean McCoy rushed 23 times for 123 yards.

In other words, the Eagles adjusted. They learned from the start of their season, and they improved.

"I just played smarter," Vick said. "You can't force opportunities against the defense, you have to let it come. I'll be honest, missing the preseason did affect me to a certain extent, but now I'm getting into my groove and seeing the field better."

Oh, suuuuurrre. Now that he played well, Vick is going to turn this whole thing around and use his lack of action during the preseason as an excuse for his slow start. A likely story, isn't it?

Then again, maybe Vick really did need a few games to get into his groove. Maybe Reid needed a few games to recognize the type of balance his team should have on offense. If the Eagles can do all of that, while still winning three games out of four, there's really only one way to interpret that.

The Eagles are 3-1. Maybe, just maybe, they might still be getting better. With a solid Pittsburgh Steelers defense awaiting them next week, they'll have yet another opportunity to find out. And we'll have another opportunity to make more interpretations.

"I like the personality of the team, and I like the grit," Reid said.

"We had a bump last week, and it wasn't real pretty. But they came back and battled against a good football team that was coming off extra days of rest.

"We battled right to the end, and we came up winners."

Fine, we'll hand it to them. Reid is right. The Eagles did win.


Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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