On November 20, 2010, Michael Vick played perhaps the best fantasy game ever. The entire football nation was watching, a Monday night at Washington. Vick threw for four touchdowns, ran for two more. He finished with 333 passing yards and 80 rushing yards, and that was with the Eagles slowing things down in the second half of the 59-28 blowout. Video game football at its best.
Less than two years later, the story is much different. Vick's fantasy relevance might be out the window, done like dinner, gone for good. Sunday's loss to Dallas could go down as the day the music died.
Vick suffered a concussion Sunday and it's unlikely he'll play this week against, coincidentally, the Redskins. And there's a fair chance the Eagles will stick with Nick Foles for the rest of the year. Andy Reid's only shot to save his job might be tied to a second-half rally with the rookie Foles. And it doesn't look like Vick is capable of playing Superman in the NFL any longer.
Vick's athleticism and highlight-film potential have long obscured the flaws in his game. He's never been smart with pre-snap decisions and adjustments, which is what you get when you openly admit you hate to watch film. Vick's pocket awareness is also a negative; he has an uncanny knack of running into pressure or scurrying away from pressure that really isn't there. At his peak, he could outrun a lot of his mistakes, but at this stage in the game that's less likely.
It's been an ongoing challenge for the media to cover Vick rationally. Too many writers just about wet their pants when Vick and the Falcons sprung a playoff upset at Green Bay in 2003, missing the fact that Vick had a 13-25-117 passing line that day (that's a 4.7 YPA, kids). Vick completed two passes for 25 yards on the first scoring drive, and Atlanta's second touchdown came on a blocked punt. The Falcons defense took over from there, holding Favre and Co. to seven points. (Then the headline writers took over: Vick stuns Packers in Lambeau!)
Vick's 2010 renaissance made for a tricky 2011 fantasy evaluation. Some writers couldn't help themselves with the upside of Vick, pegging him as the top player on their board. Others took a more reserved approached, playing the regression card and worrying about Vick's injury history. Vick wound up playing 13 games last year and had an up-and-down season (18 touchdowns, 14 picks, just one rushing score). Whatever you paid for him at the draft, it wasn't worth it.
Looking at Vick's career numbers, it's amazing what was left on the board here. He's never made it to 22 touchdown passes in any season. He's played 16 games just once, and he only got past eight wins in one campaign. An 80.7 rating doesn't feed the cat. His sack rate was better than the league average just once in nine seasons; all-world mobility only helps if you know what to do with it.
Maybe Foles will fall on his face against the Redskins this week. Maybe Vick will get another chance in 2012. Anything's possible. And obviously Foles has to deal with the same shoddy offensive line that Vick was burdened by. But I get the idea the Eagles offense will function better if it has a more consistent and accurate quarterback under center. Perhaps Foles can be that guy. And I also get the distinct sense Philadelphia went as far as this Vick story could go. It's time for a new chapter.
Thanks for the memories, No. 7. Good luck finding a starting gig next year. As maddening as you can be at times, I'll be watching with interest if you're playing for someone.
But you probably won't be on any of my fantasy rosters.
• Although Foles had a bunch of messy throws and ugly moments in his relief appearance against Dallas, I'm still intrigued by what he might be able to do going forward. The game against Washington's get-well defense in Week 11 would be a good start (assuming Foles gets the call); keep in mind a quarterback will often show significant improvement after he takes first-team reps for a full week. The Eagles also face Tampa Bay in Week 14, and the Redskins, again, in Week 16, if you care to look that far ahead.
Riley Cooper might be a name to consider if Foles gets the gig. Cooper had two catches for 24 yards Sunday, one for a touchdown (from Vick, as it turns out), and as a backup wideout he's had more reps with Foles than the starters have. With injury concerns floating around some of the other Eagles (Jeremy Maclin has a back injury, Jason Avant a hamstring problem), keep Cooper in your deep-league FAAB plans for this week.
• While I'm critiquing the mainstream media for silly things, this "fire the coach" watch on Monday is absurd, too. Sacking an NFL head coach in the middle of the season is almost always a silly idea. There's too much infrastructure to dig up. If you're a down-and-out club, you might as well wait until the coaching board is fresh in the offseason. Don't give an interim coach a chance to surprise you for a few weeks and force a bad decision.
The rules are slightly different for a team still close to contention. In some rare cases, an underachieving-but-talented club might want to consider a switch if the current season can be salvaged. But you're never going to be able to do that through an outside hire; the new coach needs to be in the building already. There's not enough time to recalibrate the roster and focus with an outside man.
Should Reid be fired, or Norv Turner, or Pat Shurmur, or Romeo Crennel? You can build a strong case with all of these guys, sure. But there's no reason to do it now. Let it wait until the regular season is complete.
• It looks like Chan Gailey is finally saved from himself. Fred Jackson's Week 10 injury clears the way for C.J. Spiller to start Thursday against Miami. With all due respect to Jackson, an estimable vet and a respected player, it's absurd that he's blocked Spiller this long. Jackson is a better pass-blocker than Spiller, but the kid blows the veteran away in every other area.
I'm not going to write too much on Spiller today: that was last week's Brunch. I hope you did what you could to land Spiller last week. I put out one strong offer (so I thought) in an expert league: Rob Gronkowski and Eli Manning (just a throw-in, he didn't need a quarterback) for Spiller and Brian Hartline. The other owner never replied. So it goes. I hope you did better than I did, gamers.
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