Vick's evolution as a quarterback is perfectly summed up by the way he operated a hurry-up offense in Philadelphia's 28-3 victory at Jacksonville on Sunday. He's no longer a run-first guy who quickly takes off with the ball if his primary option is covered.
Rather, he has found success in the pocket.
Vick withstood a blitz, took a hit and threw the ball away on first down. The old Vick might have taken a sack by trying to escape the rush, or thrown an interception by passing into coverage.
Vick got pressured on the next play and was nearly in the grasp when he dumped a short pass for a 2-yard gain. Once again, he didn't take a sack or attempt a risky pass.
On third-and-8, Vick threw a 21-yard strike over the middle to Brent Celek. It was a beautiful pass that was in traffic but out of the reach of the defenders and hit Celek in stride, keeping the drive going.
After a deep incompletion, Vick fired a 14-yard out to Jeremy Maclin, who failed to get out of bounds. Vick alertly rushed everyone to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball.
That set up first down at the Jaguars' 16 with 12 seconds left. The coaches called for maximum protection on the next play, leaving the tight end, fullback and running back in for extra protection. Maclin and DeSean Jackson were Vick's only targets. He couldn't take a sack or the first half would end. If he ran, he had to score or the clock would expire.
Vick dropped back and focused his eyes on Jackson. He felt pressure despite having eight blockers, darted out of the way, reset his feet, looked off Jackson and threw a backdoor pass to Maclin coming across the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 14-3 lead.
The old Vick probably wouldn't have waited for Maclin to come open underneath. He would have run once he saw Jackson blanketed by the secondary.
Vick's progress can be measured by the discipline he showed not just on that touchdown pass but the entire two-minute drive.
"He's being very decisive right now in his decision-making," Reid said.
Vick benefited from watching McNabb run Philadelphia's offense last year, and he also improved his study habits and throwing mechanics. It helps that Vick has excellent teachers in Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and perhaps more importantly, he has outstanding receivers. In Atlanta, Vick had to do it all. Here, he has a strong supporting cast.
"About his study habits, he's really cranked down on those, and we have to kind of kick him out of the building here," Reid said. "He's here all the time, and that's a good thing. I don't know if that's the way it was always in his career. And then, he has some pretty good receivers there to throw to. I'm not saying he didn't in Atlanta, but I'm saying here he has some pretty good receivers that know that game, and he can put it out there and they can go get it."
In 2½ games, Vick has completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 750 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He has a passer rating of 110.2, and he also has 170 rushing yards and one TD.
"If you go back to my days in Atlanta, I thought we always did a good job in the red zone and had a high efficiency and percentage in the red zone and were able to score a lot of points," Vick said. "My eyes light up when we get down there, and I think everybody else on this football team does, too. You have to go out there and put the ball in the end zone. You work so hard to get down there and you don't want field goals, you want touchdowns."
Vick earned the starting job with two dazzling performances after Kolb sustained a concussion. Vick backed up Reid's flip-flop decision to make him the starter with another stellar effort against the Jaguars.
Vick threw for 291 yards and three TDs and ran for another. For the first time in his career, he has posted consecutive 250-yard games and three games in a row with a passer rating above 100.
"He's worked so hard to get back where he needs to be, and it's a great opportunity for him to go out there and prove everybody wrong," Jackson said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press