There are few players in the NFL that can leave defensive coordinators sleepless and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is definitely one of them. His combination of speed and arm strength is something that has not been seen before in the NFL and it makes him almost impossible to stop. But Vick’s career has been anything but a fairy tale as he has had to completely rebuild his image over the past few years. His electric play making ability allows him to dominate his opponent whenever he steps on the field and it earns him a spot at #3 on our countdown.
Michael Vick’s off the field issues have been dissected and discussed by almost everyone. So I don’t feel a need to give an in depth analysis of it. There isn’t any way any one will truly know if he is sorry for what he did. You can only look at his actions and he has passed that test with flying colors over the last year. He has quietly spent a lot of time speaking to children about the dangers and severity of dog fighting and animal cruelty. It is something that has remained committed to even after his MVP caliber season. He has served his prison sentence and lost millions of dollars. I think that it is time that we can put his past behind us and focus on the player and person he is presently.
I remember watching an interview with Andy Reid a few days before the Eagles signed Vick. He was asked whether or not the team had any interest in Vick, he said point blank that they had NO interest in him. But then just days later he was sitting next to Vick at the press conference. The signing was met with mixed feeling from most Eagles fans. There were even some who claimed they would no longer root for the Eagles if Vick was on the roster. It was no doubt a huge PR gamble but they thought he was worth the risk. Most fans and writers thought Philadelphia would just be a stop on the comeback trail for Vick’s career. If he would regain his form, the Eagles could trade him for a high draft pick in the offseason.
The 2009 season was nothing to write home about for Vick as he saw limited action mainly out of the wild cat. He just didn’t have the speed and burst he had before and some didn’t know if he would ever regain it. After the 2009 season Vick was reportedly shopped by the Eagles but they didn't get any takers. A mid round draft pick would have probably been enough to pry Vick away. After the Eagles traded McNabb to Washington, it was assumed that Kevin Kolb would be the starter and Vick would be the backup. During camp and preseason Kolb was the starter and anything to the contrary wasn’t really discussed. Kolb started the season as the starter but was knocked out of the game on a hit by Clay Matthews. The Eagles trailed 20-3 early in the 3rd and Vick brought the team back into the game with his play. It ended up being too little in the end as they lost 27-20 but the plays from number 7 turned the heads of everyone!. He went 16-24 for 175 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 103 yards on just 11 rushes. Most Eagles fans gushed at the potential a well coached Vick could have. After the game Reid said that Kolb was still his quarterback when he was healthy. Vick’s play over the next few games forced the hand of Reid as he was ultimately named the team’s starting quarterback.
Monday Night Football doesn’t have the same feel is used to have but players still recognize the stage his presents to them. It was week 10 and the Eagles were visiting their old friend in Washington. Vick’s performance was one for the ages and something that we never may witness again. On the first play from scrimmage Vick connected with Jackson on a 88 yard touchdown bomb that put Redskins Safety LaRon Landry to sleep. Just one play into the 2nd quarter, Vick’s 4 touchdowns pushed the Eagles to 35-0 lead! At the half they led 45-14. They set team records for most yards in a half (592) and points in a half (45). Even after letting off the gas after the 3rd quarter, the Eagles still scored 59 points. Vick’s performance was one of the greatest single game performances in the history of the NFL. He went 20-28 for 333 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. Vick also added 80 yards and 2 more touchdowns on the ground. He became the first playing in the history of the NFL with at least 300 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, 4 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns. Vick even acknowledged the magnitude of his performance.
“I’ve had some great games in my day,” Vick said. “But I don’t think I’ve had one quite like this one.”
While playing just 12 games due to injury last season, Vick set personal career highs in QB rating, completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He finished the season throwing for 3,018 yards, rushing for 676 more and having a combined 30 touchdowns. His amazing play was good enough to earn him a start in the Pro Bowl and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. It was the 30 year olds 4th career selection the Pro Bowl.
“Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now, and that’s a beautiful thing,” Coach Andy Reid said “Very few quarterbacks can go out and play the way he played the last few weeks.”
Vick is a game changer who instantly made the Eagles a championship contender last season. His on the field play last season was electrifying but the leadership he showed last season was newsworthy as well. The young players seemed to gravitate to him and spoke just as highly of him. Vick’s past has seemingly lit a fire under him and it has led him to take a more committed approach to the game. If he continues to continual study game film and improve his recognition of defenses and blitzes, he will make himself nearly impossible to stop. He is one of the most exciting and dangerous players the league as ever seen. Vick has the talent to take the Eagles to a place they have never been and the next few season should be very exciting for Eagles fans.His leadership and extraordinary talent earn Vick a spot at #3 on BLN’s 2011 Best Athlete in Philadelphia.