By the end of last season, the Philadelphia Eagles began to play the way people expected. Drifting out of the playoff picture, the team closed with four straight wins to finish 8-8, putting a positive spin on an otherwise uneven campaign.
Turnovers killed the Eagles last season. Philly lost the ball 38 times -- second most in the league -- a figure coaches cited as the team's chief downfall, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Quarterback Michael Vick, for all his physical gifts, was a factor here, losing the ball 18 times following just nine turnovers in 2010.
After the season, quarterback coach Doug Pederson pulled Vick into a room to watch film. They reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly.
"I've had a chance to sit down with Mike, one-on-one ... for me not only to teach off of that but just to watch his expression, see how he reacts to the negative," Pederson told the newspaper. "He's learned from that. I think it makes him a better quarterback going forward, obviously. If we cut those two areas down, be more efficient in the red zone, don't turn the ball over as much ... your chances of success obviously go up."
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The old Vick brushed off turnovers as the necessary cost of his aggressive, daring antics, which also led to much of his success. Pederson believes today's more mature Vick is willing to adjust his play and learn from his mistakes.
"Some of it was, 'What was I thinking?' " Pederson said, in describing Vick's response to revisiting his darker moments on the field. "... For the most part, it's just 'Why? ... Why did I do that?' And that's the kind of thing that we missed a year ago in that offseason."
We've heard a lot about rookies losing valuable coaching time during last summer's lockout. Here's an example of offseason teaching that was unavailable to veteran quarterbacks one year ago. If it makes Vick a smarter player in 2012, the Eagles are a safe bet to improve on that .500 record.