According to reports, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick showed up to the first practices under new head coach Chip Kelly 'noticeably bigger' and very enthused about Kelly's high-tempo offensive system. Apparently, Vick also arrived with a point to prove, and a burr in his saddle when it comes to the criticisms levied against him regarding the sandlot nature of his game. On Wednesday, Vick went on Philly radio station 97.5 The Fanatic and laid it out to those who wonder if he'll ever play consistently and with the right kind of mechanics, as opposed to winging it and letting his athleticism rule the day.
“I’m really tempted right now to just say no comment to that because like I said a second ago, you don’t last 12 years in the NFL not being able to read the defense,” Vick told the station, via Sheil Kapadia of Phillymag.com. “Those people who are talking and saying that are just ignorant, and they know nothing about football. Unless they turn on the film and watch my game and see what goes on, then they’ll replace those comments with the right comments.”
But there are those who do watch tape, and are fairly informed on the subject, who believe that Vick holds on to the ball too long, fails to read defenses completely, doesn't correctly anticipate pressure, and runs himself into sacks that shouldn't happen. It's why Vick has started all 16 games in a season just once in his career, and it's why Vick was so turnover-prone in 2012, giving the ball up 11 times on fumbles. Vick led the NFL in fumbles in 2004 and 2010, but he doesn't want to hear the talk about the holes in his game.
“It’s incorrect. Without getting sensitive about it, it’s incorrect. So I’d rather not talk about it.”
Well, that's not entirely true. Vick also said that Kelly, the former Oregon offensive mastermind, recently taught him how to correctly run with the ball, which is a pretty amazing claim for a guy who's been in the NFL since 2001 and has 791 rushing attempts and 5,551 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career. You'd think someone would have taught him that before, but apparently not.
“The other day, I broke out in the pocket, and the first thing Chip told me was to tuck the football,” Vick said. “So I showed him how I was running with it, and he looked at it and he knocked the ball right out of my hands. And he was like, ‘Hold it like this.’ And what he told me felt comfortable. I had a tighter grip on the football. That should secure that problem as long as I work on it. Like I said, you’re always a work in progress, and even when you think you know it all, sometimes you don’t. The people who feel like they know everything, they don’t.”
One of the first things Kelly did when he took the Eagles job was to insure that he has Vick on the roster by restructuring his old six-year, $100 million deal down to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with a $3.5 million signing bonus. Vick is the projected starter at this point, but there's backup Nick Foles and fourth-round draft pick Matt Barkley to worry about. Vick would seem to have the ideal skill set for Kelly's offense, but Kelly doesn't generally tolerate a lot of sacks and turnovers from his quarterbacks. So, whether he likes it or not, and whether he thinks he has to or not, Vick will have to clean up a few things if he wants to go forward with his current team.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup, who also contrubites to Shutdown Corner on a regular basis, watches as much tape as anyone in America who isn't working with an NFL team. His take on Vick, from May, 2012:
Vick is a transcendent athlete, capable of extraordinary throws and runs at any given moment. Yet he always leaves you wanting more. The reason, in simplest terms: Vick is not, to this day, an accomplished passer. He remains a week-to-week player with little stability or continuity to his game. He’s always dangerous, at times dazzling, but seldom consistent ... NFL quarterback is a highly disciplined craft. For those like Vick who are exceptional athletes, it requires more intellectual discipline to properly harness that athleticism than is necessary for those players predisposed to play in the pocket. Perhaps the most damning assessment of Vick is this: his frenetic, haphazard approach sabotages his ability to stay on the field.
Many with no specific agendas, who have watched Vick for years, would certainly agree.