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Vick Shines in Eagles’ MNF Destruction of Redskins by Lloyd Vance

November 16, 2010 1 comment

Michael Vick, “You Were Ridiculous!” in the Eagles 59-28 Monday Night Football destruction of the Washington Redskins

With the signing of Donovan McNabb earlier in the day to a somewhat unexpected 5-year, $78 million contract extension with $40 million guaranteed that will more than likely allow the veteran quarterback to end his storied career in the Nation’s Capital, everything seemed in place for a shining moment on Monday Night Football. 

But…Hold-up wait a minute as the quarterback that set the NFL’s favorite weekly evening drama into orbit was none other than McNabb’s former understudy’s understudy, Michael Vick.  The mercurial quarterback, who many doubted ever could become a “complete” passer, opened several eyes as he had a magical night in the Philadelphia Eagles 59-28 demolition of the Washington Redskins (4-5) on MNF.

Vick was the catalyst as the Eagles (6-3) busted out to a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter.  In a night where McNabb – passing numbers 17 for 31 for 295 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs in the loss — could only applaud his former Syracuse recruit.  Vick gave Eagles’ Nation something to remember for a long time. 

The Birds set team records for total yards in a game (592), points in a half (45) and had the biggest lead after the first quarter for any NFL road team (28-0) since at least 1950.  “We got outcoached. We got outplayed. They did everything right,” Redskins disgruntled DL Albert Haynesworth said after the embarrassing loss.

At the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles first mini-camp after the draft, I noted to a fellow media member the Vick looked to be 100% back and then he impressed me more by sounding like a new mature humbled individual when I talked with him after practice.  I thought, “Wow”, this guy is going to be an asset helping out new starter as a veteran back-up and serving in the Wildcat.  But none of us had any idea that the NFL’s new quarterback guru, Andy Reid, had remolded the fallen star and created MV7 version 2010, a masterpiece.

Redemption road has been a long one for the former NFL superstar turned public enemy number one for his part in a notorious dogfighting situation that cost him over two years away from the game that he so dearly loves.  But this is not your standard, “Michael Vick is Back” story as there is no question regarding whether the former 3-time Pro Bowl player can redeem himself.

No, the real question is “How Can’t Michael Vick be considered the leading candidate for the 2010 NFL Most Valuable Player Award?”  Forget about McNabb and his extension – former Eagles franchise great already has his hands full enough with a Washington team that badly needs some offensive talent – plus former Reid “anointed” starter Kevin Kolb.

Vick is playing at a level that deserves to put him in any conversation with the Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees.  That’s right…I am doing the unthinkable in putting Vick in a quarterback class that some thought he could ever achieve.  Incredibly at age 30, the former Atlanta troubled prodigy has become the player everyone thought he could be when the Falcons made him the NFL’s first overall draft pick way back in 2001. 

His speed to the corner is at an elite running back’s  level, his arm is looking better than any quarterback in the league right now and under the guidance of Reid, Vick has the work ethic and pocket presence that has to be leaving everyone in the NFL scratching their heads… are you reading Greg Knapp.

On his magical night, Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. Ironically it was Vick’s magical legs — ran eight times for 80 yards and two scores plus moved past Steve Young and into second place in NFL history for yards rushing by a quarterback – that were an afterthought as his arm did all his talking.  The former Virginia Tech star threw an 88-yard laser touchdown pass to a streaking DeSean Jackson on his first play of the game and he never looked back in one of the greatest performances in Monday Night Football history. 

“I’ve had some great games in my day,” Vick said. “But I don’t think I’ve had one quite like this one.”  He accounted for 6 touchdowns while finishing with off the chart passing numbers finished 20 for 28 for 333 yards and four touchdowns – completed first 10 passes of the night.  But more impressive to me is the fact that Vick hasn’t thrown an interception or lost a fumble this season – sorry Brett Favre…you lead the league with 16 INTs. 

The Birds are 4-0 when Vick starts and finishes the game, which has made him an instant star in Philadelphia and galvanized a once fractured fanbase. We will see if the Vick Express can continue all the way through the playoffs, if he too can get a coveted extension, and continue playing at a level the NFL has not scene since Steve Young’s magical 1995 Super Bowl winning year for the Niners.

Eagles’ veteran receiver Jason Avant said of his quarterback’s phenomenal play, “The guy is unreal. How do you defend him when we have everything going? I have not seen anything like that. It was so much fun out there.”

But more importantly, the Eagles and Vick now have move into a NFC East first-place tie with the New York Giants (6-3) setting the stage for next week’s megawatt Sunday Night Football battle at the Linc.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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Reid Makes the Right Decision in Choosing Vick by Lloyd Vance

September 22, 2010 1 comment

The Philadelphia Eagles QB Controversy took a crazy turn as head coach Andy Reid named Michael Vick as his starter for the rest of the 2010 season

In a shocking and quite bizarre change of events, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid did a total 360-degree about face by naming comebacking quarterback Michael Vick to be his starter for he rest of the 2010 season.  Reid said in a September 21st press conference to announce the change, “Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. I think his play has even exceeded expectations over the last two weeks.” 

Of course in naming Vick the starter, Reid who has notoriously been quite stubborn over his 12 years in Philadelphia –- see former receivers that he told us were good enough…when we all knew they weren’t (i.e. Pinkston, Thrash, Mitchell) — definitely had to back track on his anointing of former starter, Kevin Kolb, who had been the team’s face since an Easter Sunday 2010 trade of 11-year veteran Donovan McNabb. The 4th year quarterback and first-time starter had been given a lucrative extension on April 29th with the terms 1-year, 12.26 million through 2011 with all of it guaranteed and $10.7 million in a signing bonus.  Reid even said when Kolb signed his new deal, “When given the chance, Kevin has proven to have good command of this offense and we’re looking forward to having him operate as the number one quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles”. 

I guess the coach misremembered his comments from April and a couple of days prior, because now Vick is his guy.  Reid tried to soften the blow to Kolb by saying, “This has nothing to do with Kevin Kolb’s injury. Kevin Kolb has done a phenomenal job for us here and the future of Kevin Kolb is not slighted by this one bit. He has an opportunity, obviously, to be, what I would consider, a franchise quarterback and deserving of so.”  In trying to further justify his decision Reid added, “Again, this is more about Michael Vick and his accelerated play. He’s sitting there as possibly the hottest quarterback in the National Football League at this time and deserves an opportunity to play. It also allows Kevin to continue as a young quarterback in the National Football League, his maturation process, and, again, to become a franchise quarterback in the future.”

Alright before we try to get in the mind of Coach Reid and understand why he flip-flopped in a matter of 3 Days, we have to first jump in the hot tub time machine and go over the events that led to the firestorm of activity around the Birds’ quarterbacks.  Let’s go back to Sunday September 19th around 5:00 PM EST; the Eagles had pulled off a hard-earned 35-32 win over the scrappy Detroit Lions.  Where backup quarterback Michael Vick, who was making his first NFL start since December 31, 2006, for the second week in a row had given the Eagles a noticeable spark as Kolb recovered from a concussion suffered against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.  The former 3-time Pro Bowl player was sensational as he made something out of nothing several times, both in and out of the pocket, in the win over the Lions.  Vick finished with numbers 21-for-34 for 284 yards passing and two TD tosses, with 37 yards rushing plus he withstood being sacked 6 times behind a porous Eagles’ offensive line. 

Almost immediately after my hometown Eagles put the final touches on a good win that put them at 1-1 and we later learned a tie for first place in the NFC East, my cell phone started going crazy.  I didn’t even need to answer a single call or read one text message.  Because I knew the “vocal” majority of the Birds’ fan base –- the same ones that wanted McNabb gone and for Kevin Kolb to take over… but I digress — had now switched their allegiance to Vick.  However almost immediately into his post-game press conference, Reid tried to squelch any Vick talk by saying that his now-healthy Week 1 starter, Kolb (concussion), would be returning as the team’s starting quarterback next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.  Can you say, “Quarterback Controversy”? The move was both lauded and loudly questioned on post-game radio, television and Twitter in the Philadelphia area and nationally.

To Vick’s credit, he showed that he had moved on from his former selfish ways that plagued him during his time with the Atlanta Falcons by supporting his teammate.  Of the whole Kolb-Vick quarterback controversy brewing in Philly, Vick stepped away from the grenade by humbly saying, “This is Kevin’s team”. Vick added, “All I wanted to do was come out and get the momentum going. I’m sure Kevin will be back next week.”  But you had to think that deep down after all he had been through that even Vick -– career passing numbers 973-1801, 54.0%, 12050 yards, 75 TDs, and 52 INTs with additional rushing numbers of 4094 yards, 7.2 ypr, and 23 TDs — knew that he “deserved” to get his shot back in the spotlight. As incredibly as it sounds, the player once described as “Public Enemy No. 1” in the minds of many NFL fans had done the unthinkable, going from a hated reputed dogfighter to a playmaker.

C’mon not even Hollywood could have written a better script. The long redemption road that the former Virginia Tech star had traveled since his last start in December 2006 has been a well-documented rollercoaster, to say the least. Vick’s road back to NFL glory included an 18-month stay in Leavenworth Prison for his role in a dogfighting ring and a getting-to-know-you 2009 season where he served as a spare part Eagles’ third-stringer –- only threw 13 passes, completing 6 for 86 yards and 1 TD. But now he was back to the player that once had the NFL buzzing back when he led the Falcons to a mission-impossible 27-7 win over the Green Bay Packers at snowy Lambeau Field in the Wildcard round of the 2002 NFL Playoffs.  Surprisingly 8 years later, his 4.3 speed was back and he also added another piece to his repertoire by showing the vision needed to make passes downfield from the pocket. Even Reid couldn’t help talking about Vick’s eye-opening effort in the win over the Lions, which unfortunately for Kolb, probably forced his hand in naming Vick the starter.  Reid said after the Lions win about Vick, “You’re talking about a phenomenal football player who’s had another chance to prove himself…To see the sparkle in his eye is amazing.”   

Call me “crazy”, but Vick –- salary of $3.75 million in 2010 plus an already paid $1.5 million roster bonus — has bought into Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s coaching enough that now he looks like Donovan McNabb circa 2000.  That season the Eagles made the playoffs for the first time under Reid by finishing 11-5 even though they were a very young team.  Back then the Eagles relied heavily on their dual-threat quarterback and McNabb produced passing (over 3,000 yards), and rushing (over 600 yards) while accounting for 27 touchdowns (21 passing and 6 rushing)…Does any of this sound familiar.  In two weeks of play in 2010, Vick –-passing numbers through 2 weeks of 37-58, 63.8%, 459 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs with a career-high passer rating of 105.5 plus 140 rushing yards — has knocked off several years of rust to become Reid’s type of starting quarterback.  He no longer is settling for his first read then taking off to make spectacular running plays only, Vick is a passer first…if you can believe it. The exciting thing is that the Eagles have responded under Vick’s leadership by putting up 52 points in six quarters. 

Reid recently said in a press conference that he now is in the enviable spot of having “Two Quality” quarterbacks.  But give me break coach…you can spin it anyway you want, the reality of the situation is that Kolb -– career passing numbers of 84-140, 60.0%, 909 yards, 4 TDs, and 7 INTs with a 1-2 starting record –- was not the “right” guy for the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles.  I know that sounds harsh after Kolb has only played in basically one half of football -– passing numbers of 5-for-10 for only 24 yards and produced only 3 first downs before the concussion knocked him out against the Packers.  But today’s NFL is a “Win Now” league.  Everyone from fans to the media to the team’s management are not content with having a rebuilding season when the NFC East is there for the taking. Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw also believes now is the time for Vick.  Bradshaw said on the network’s pregame show of the situation, “With Kolb, you’re looking at a guy who really doesn’t have a resume”.  The Hall of Fame quarterback added, “He’s only started three games. I would find it very difficult for Kolb to win with the Eagles offensive line being in shambles. Vick is better suited right now to win football games than Kevin.”

The division-favorite Dallas Cowboys (0-2) are looking like they could implode at any moment and the other teams in the division, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, don’t look like they are making reservations for Super Bowl XLV either.  As always, Reid’s goal is to make the playoffs and he knew Vick was his best chance to win.  Though I am not entirely ready to say the Eagles are definitely a playoff team with Vick.  Who knows if the 2010 Eagles could possibly catch the same lightning in a bottle that caused the 2005 Steelers, 2007 NY Giants, and 2009 NY Jets to make to make strong playoff runs, despite having some regular season flaws.   

Another deciding factor for Reid had to be an offensive line that is beat-up and sorely missing their leader, Jamaal Jackson.  The Eagles’ offensive line needs to make adjustments, because as a unit they have allowed a whopping 12 sacks in two games and lost Kolb to a concussion.  Vick, who has been sacked 9 times despite running from pressure, is the Eagles’ best weapon against the fast attacking defenses that have been exploiting the team’s protection breakdowns. And I won’t even go into whether the Eagles wanted to take back the Philadelphia area’s sports fans’ attention from major league baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies who look like they are surging to their 3rd World Series appearance in three years, but that is always an item for debate.

Whatever the reason for naming Vick the starter, it was the right reason for the Philadelphia Eagles to win now.  Reid said of the decision to go with Vick, “This is my decision”.  Reid strongly added, “Listen, when you deal with a decision like this, you take as much time as you possibly need to take and so I did that. It’s not my obligation to tell people my decision. It’s my obligation to make the proper decision. That’s why I took the time to do that.”

Good Luck coach with your new starting quarterback, because you know this quarterback controversy is not going away anytime soon… especially with the passionate fans of Philadelphia. 

Wonder if Eagles fans and Reid would rather still have Big 5 still under center –- he beat Dallas in Week 1 and threw for over 400 yards in a loss to the Texans in Week 2…..Alright I won’t go there.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Eagles expected to pay Vick’s bonus by Lloyd Vance

Looks like quarterback Michael Vick will be with the Philadelphia Eagles a little longer than originally anticipated

For years, disgruntled former Philadelphia Eagles have left the nest complaining about the front office’s low priority in paying veteran players.  From Troy Vincent to Corey Simon to Jeremiah Trotter to Lito Sheppard, there was animosity towards the team’s management as fans seethed on the radio and message boards about their “thrifty” nature. 

Even recently, “stand up guy” Brian Westbrook had some choice comments on his way out the door. Westbrook said via the Dan Patrick Radio Show, ” The players want to win, but with the management, I would hope winning is the priority – but I don’t know that.  The thing for (the Eagles’ front office), it’s always money. It’s always dollar signs. If they can find someone to do it a little bit cheaper, they’ll go with that guy.”

With the Eagles image of not “paying” veteran players being in the public’s forefront.  All along I thought there was no way that the team would pay spare part 3rd string quarterback Michael Vick’s upcoming bonus.  Vick is due a $1.5 million roster bonus payment on March 5th (start of NFL free agency and new calendar year).

But to everyone’s surprise, people around the Eagles that I have recently talked to definitely believe that the team is indeed strongly considering paying Vick his bonus.  To further solidify my findings, my colleague Geoff Mosher of The News Journal recently wrote, “Multiple league sources have told me that they anticipate the Eagles paying Vick’s 1.5 roster bonus and holding onto Vick for as long as possible to get the best available offer. Shelling out $1.5 million is hardly unreasonable if the team gets a third-or fourth-round pick in return.”

I know most Michael Vick followers will not understand the team paying for basically nothing.  However I have to agree with the team’s thinking in this case.  Everyone around the league already seem to be playing the waiting game with the Eagles at this point, to see if Vick will be let go to become an unrestricted free agent.  Obviously with Eagles quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and Vick all entering the 2010 season on 1-year deals, clearly the under-utilized 3rd stringer has to be the odd man out. Especially at his total price of $6 to $7 Million in 2010. 

Vick’s last season playing time and numbers (passing: 6-13, 46.2%, 86 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs plus 24 rushes for 95 yards, and 2 TDs) also clearly show that McNabb and Kolb are the team’s future and not him.  But any trade leverage that the Eagles posses with rumored destination teams — Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, or Carolina Panthers – hinges mainly on making it look like there is a chance of Vick staying in Philly.  So paying him on March 5th seems very probable. 

However paying Vick’s bonus this week does present another problem.  If the Eagles can’t unload Vick via trade there are provisions in his contract that would make him the costliest 3rd stringer in the NFL.  His $1.5 million roster bonus can quickly grow into a minimum of $2.5 million dollars ($1M of his $3.75M salary for 2010 becomes guaranteed once his option is picked up).  And I won’t even go into the amount of $5.25 million dollars, if Vick is with the Eagles for the entire 2010 season.

Clearly the Eagles have to make a “tough” decision on Friday, March 5th.  But I do believe they will buck their perceived cap-conscious reputation by calling Vick’s agent Joel Segal to inform him that “yes” the check is in the mail. By paying Vick’s bonus, the Eagles will buy some much-needed time to ensure a trade before the 2010 NFL Draft on April 22 – probably a 3rd or 4th rounder in return. 

 Stay tuned as we will see if the Eagles make a dollar sign decision on March 5th.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

The Michael Vick Experience returns to the ATL in fine fashion by Lloyd Vance

For the first time since 2006, QB Michael Vick had the Georgia Dome rocking with a strong performance

The Philadelphia Eagles 34-7 shellacking of the Atlanta Falcons became a footnote to bigger story.  No it was not the fact that the Eagles (8-4) are now tied for first place in the NFC East with Dallas Cowboys.  The main storyline that dominated Sunday afternoon’s game was the triumphant return of Eagles backup quarterback Michael Vick to the Georgia Dome.  The trip back to Atlanta had been an emotional one for Vick.  He later admitted to tearing up on the bus ride over to the stadium.  This was the city where he first made his mark in the NFL as the Falcons star billboard player only to fall to tragic lows in 2007 due to his involvement in dogfighting. 

Vick’s fall from grace was swift and when he went to prison for a 23-month period, he not only left behind his family and friends, but also the franchise that stood by him since he first entered the NFL in 2001.  The Falcons owner Arthur Blank had given the keys to the franchise to his pseudo son only to have Vick disappoint him and ultimately causing the team to walk away from their former electrifying player.  While Vick was beginning his prison sentence in late 2007, the Falcons were also a shattered mess.  The 2007 season was one of the worst in Falcons’ history as the team finished with a dismal record of 4-12, their head coach Bobby Petrino quit with only a few games left, and many blamed the duo of Blank and Vick for the overall collapse of the former 2004 NFC Championship contender.  Vick finished his 6-year Falcons’ career with passing numbers of 930-1730, 11505 yards, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, and a 75.7 rating plus a record of 38-28-1 as a starter.

Though the Falcons rebounded in 2008 to make the playoffs under rookie of the year quarterback Matt Ryan, the attention of many in Atlanta still remained with Vick.  The journey of Vick from a jailed dogfighter back to the NFL has been well documented and when the Eagles first signed the former Falcons star in mid-August there was a firestorm of activity on message boards, talk radio, and any other medium associated to fan feedback.  To say the least the Vick signing was polarizing across the country sometimes along racial lines – especially in Atlanta and Philadelphia.  One camp had the former 3-time Pro Bowl player designated as persona-non-grata for the heinous nature of his crimes against dogs while others believed he deserved a second chance after serving his time.  However much like any big head line story, the Eagles signing of Michael Vick eventually faded into the back pages of NFL news after a while.  The majority of fans that had threatened to boycott their beloved Eagles due to the signing of Vick still packed the stands and on the field the former first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft had become a “spare” part in the Eagles’ offense.  Vick would come in for a play here or there out of the Eagles version of the Wildcat formation called the “Spread Eagle”.  But other than a big 34-yard run against the San Diego Chargers, No. 7 was relegated to a designed run every so often while mostly watching starter Donovan McNabb from the sidelines.  Vick’s numbers in 9 games – suspended for the first two games — before Sunday were anything, but electrifying (3 of 9 passing for 7 yards and 0 TDs with 15 rushes for 65 yards and no touchdowns).

Even Vick’s return to Atlanta to face the Falcons was considered non- front page news as many figured the former Falcons’ star would play maybe one or two plays as he had done throughout his stint with the Birds.  But fate and a soft spot for a “comeback” story by Eagles head coach Andy Reid stepped in to bring Vick’s name back into the spotlight.  Playing in the Georgia Dome, which was once dubbed “The House that Michael Vick built”, the former 6-year Falcons player was everywhere.  Vick led the Eagles out of the tunnel to start the game, was a designated team captain for the coin toss, and received probably his most playing time of the season.  However when Vick entered the game on the Eagles fifth and seventh plays of their opening possession, he was showered with boos.   But those boos quickly faded in the 3rd quarter. With the Eagles leading 13-0, Reid re-inserted Vick in the redzone.  The former Falcons’ starter lined up in shotgun formation and after a direct snap, Vick ran into the endzone for a 5-yard jitter-bugging touchdown.  The play was pure “Vick” as he sprinted to his right then sharply cut back to his left then broke a tackle before finally divining into the endzone.  The play led to a thunderous ovation as many fans wearing No. 7 jerseys stood for their former superstar. 

As good as his first touchdown run since Oct 15, 2006 felt, the NFL’s only 1,000-yard rushing quarterback had to feel even better later on.  With the game well in-hand, Vick showed everyone that he still has plenty of juice left in his rocket left arm as he fired a 43-yard completion to receiver Reggie Brown.  Then in the redzone for the second time, the “Michael Vick Experience” was back as he sprinted out to his left then lobbed a pass back to the right to wide-open TE Brent Celek in the endzone.  The dome’s roof shook again as indeed the prodigal son had returned home.  Vick finished the day with numbers 2 of 2 passing for 48 yards and 1 TD plus 4 rushes for 17 yards with 1 TD.  Not bad for a “spare part” and there were even chants of “We want Vick! We want Vick!” from his former home crowd in the fourth quarter after his satisfying day was done.  Vick said of the fans cheers for him, “It was as loud as it gets in the Dome, I heard the chants all through the stadium and it sent chills down my spine. They were just letting me know that people still appreciate what I’ve done.”

It was easy to see the pure joy that Vick felt playing back in the ATL.  After the game Eagles starter McNabb said of Vick’s fine performance in his return, “You were seeing a guy in his element.  I think he was just relishing the moment.”  After spending a larger amount of time giving on-field interviews and reflecting,   Vick in his post-game press conference said “It couldn’t have happened at a better time, I want to become one of the top quarterbacks in this league again.”

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Vick plays in his first NFL game in over 2 years by Lloyd Vance

August 29, 2009 3 comments

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Michael Vick is Back in the NFL !!!  Sports Journey’s NFL Insider Lloyd Vance was in the Linc’s pressbox for Vick’s much anticipated return.

After over two years of waiting and anticipation, the ‘Michael Vick Experience’ returned to the National Football League.  With a gaggle of local and national media in attendance — the pressbox seemed to have a playoff game type atmosphere.  Vick played for the first time for his new team (Philadelphia Eagles) versus the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field, ironically in the last stadium he played in way back on December 31, 2006 with the Atlanta Falcons. 

To the surprise of everyone, who had built the third preseason game of the Eagles’ schedule into a frenzy from weeks of radio fueled debate over the signing of the fallen from grace superstar, Vick was well received by the Eagles’ faithful.  The anticipated jeers, protests, and booing never materialized with Vick receiving strong cheers – some fans even gave him a standing ovation. 

 In his postgame press conference, Vick admitted that he was also pleasantly surprised by the fans’ reception – later admitted that he screwed a play up by trying to do too much after the warm reception. The former three-time Pro Bowl player said, “I didn’t think (the reaction) was going to be this positive. I didn’t know what to expect. … I was listening to hear what it would be. I’m very thankful.” 

All eyes had been on Vick during a whirlwind day from flying back and forth to Virginia for a bankruptcy hearing to warm-ups, pregame drills to when the Eagles starting offense had taken the field with Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb under center.  The fans wait did not take long as Vick entered the game on the Eagles second offensive play. 

 With McNabb flanked out wide, Vick started his long road back by taking the snap and executing a safe 4-yard shovel to running back LeSean McCoy.  Then as quickly as he had entered the game, Vick returned to the sidelines waiting for his next opportunity, which arrived a few more times. In all, Vick played in six offensive plays in a variety of roles including quarterback, zone-read quarterback, wildcat quarterback, wide receiver and completed a pass right-handed (naturally a left-handed passer). All of Vick’s playing time occurred in the first half and the Birds netted three points to show for his efforts.

 The NFL’s only 1,000-yard rushing quarterback’s final passing numbers were 4-4 for 19 yards with his best pass a 13-yard bullet to receiver Hank Baskett at the Jaguars’ 11-yard line. Plus he rushed for 1-yard on the aforementioned crowd pleasing attempt, where quite frankly he looked a little heavy-legged than the whirlwind cuts machine of the past.  “Everything he was asked to do, he did it well,” McNabb said.  There were even chants of “We want Vick” that could be heard on the TV broadcast after McNabb threw an interception – where was the Anti-Vick factions then.

 No one seemed to care that the final score was Eagles 33, Jaguars 32  or that the Eagles need to sure-up a myriad of things before their opener (September 13th at Carolina, especially tackling and injuries on their offensive line. But numbers and the final score of the game can never tell the whole story. 

Michael Vick was just happy to get his feet wet in an NFL game for the first time in a long while …well preseason game.  He described the feeling of playing in his first game after his whole dogfighting melodrama as “surreal”. Vick said he had to pinch himself to believe he was back in a real game. The experience was another hurdle that Vick had to overcome on his road back.  The only drawback for Vick’s fans was that it may take awhile for the real “Mike Vick” from the past to show-up. 

Right now Vick put his current condition at 70% of his past faculties, but he added the “sky’s the limit” once he gets his legs under him – working very hard after practice on a daily basis.  He added that he was able to play at a high level before and he believes that he can do it again.

I am sure to Vick six plays and a few minutes on an NFL field once seemed like a lifetime away for the  former poster player when he was in Leavenworth – admitted in a 60 Minutes interview that he cried at night in prison.  But now the former first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft is back on the gridiron after receiving the “second chance” that many, including myself, believe that he deserves.  Eagles’ fans, coaches, and players plus the Jaguars overall genuinely seemed happy for Vick as cleared another obstacle on his road to redemption. 

“It’s been a long journey for me,” Vick said. “I just want to do it right this time around.” 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Top Five NFL Preseason Stories besides Favre and Vick by Lloyd Vance

August 20, 2009 1 comment

 

Eagles Vick Football

Hard to believe there are other NFL stories this preseason than Michael Vick and Brett Favre — Read abou my Top 5 Stories other than the over reported twosome

During the past couple of weeks, NFL headlines have been dominated by the return of former Pro Bowl quarterbacks Brett Favre (Vikings) and Michael Vick (Eagles).  Sure their stories are compelling and have caused much debate on sports radio.  But as we move closer to the 2009 NFL Regular Season starting in September there are other storylines worth covering.

1) T.O’s arrival in Buffalo – In trying to ignite a passing offense that only generate  14 touchdowns last season, the Bills turned to VH1’s favorite reality TV star.  The Bills are Terrell Owens’ fourth team in the past seven seasons and T.O., who turns 36 in December, saw his reception, yardage and touchdown totals decrease last season.  But that didn’t bother Bills fans as they flocked to St. John Fisher College (over 4,000 a day) for a glimpse of the their new star.  With thoughts of bringing back the “No-Huddle” offense expectations are rising in Western New York despite T.O battling a toe injury that will keep him out of the Bills’ third preseason game against the Packers.  Also let’s not forget the new breakfast sensation “T.O’s” which are a wholesome cereal.

2) Injuries taking their toll – This time of year every team only wants to get their starters and key people through the preseason with good health for the regular season.  I know every team in the NFL has to deal with injuries on a daily basis, but lately some units and teams have been decimated by them.  The Philadelphia Eagles are missing 4 out of 5 starting offensive linemen due to injuries (OT Jason Peters – quad, OG Stacy Andrews – knee, OT Shawn Andrews – back, and Todd Herramins – foot).  The Birds also lost starting MLB Stewart Bradley – ACL and TE Cornelius Ingram – ACL for the season.  The Eagles are not the only team with injury woes as the Steelers are worried about QB Ben Roethlisberger after the starter hurt his foot/ankle when offensive lineman Max Starks rolled on him.  Other high profile players dealing with injuries are Washington Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth (knee – Day to Day), Seattle Seahawks OT Walter Jones (knee surgery), Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglass (ACL — season), Houston Texans Backup QB Rex Grossman (hamstring – 4 to 5 weeks), Indianapolis Colts SS Bob Sanders (knee surgery), Oakland Raiders WR Chaz Schilens (broken foot — 4 to 6 Weeks) and others.

3) Denver Broncos and WR Brandon Marshall’s relationship going South — Marshall after two Pro Bowl seasons in a row wanted a new contract and threatened a holdout.  In the 2008 season, Marshall despite missing games including a couple for a suspension put up numbers of 104 rec, 1265 yards, 6 TDs.  The Broncos under the leadership new head coach Josh McDaniels turned a deaf ear to Marshall’s demands as he was under contract for another season and he had another tumultuous offseason.  To make matters worse the Falcons extended disgruntled former holdout receiver Roddy White (six-years, $50 million).  Then after Marshall was found “Not Guilty” of misdemeanor battery charges by a jury in Atlanta, there was more drama to come.  Reportedly upper management instructed a PR staffer to coach players not to express excitement over Marshall’s not-guilty verdict.  Marshall has demanded a trade and the New York Jets are apparently interested, but don’t expect the Broncos to do anything extreme to help him.

4) Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable allegedly punches the “lights-out” of an assistant coach – After you think Al Davis’ dysfunctional franchise cannot sink any lower, they surprise you again.  Allegedly Cable had a confrontation with defensive assistant Randy Hanson that ended with the poor assistant in the emergency room with a fractured jaw.   Usually this sort of thing would be swept under the rug, but there was the little matter of a police report.  The entire Raiders organization has been issuing quick “No Comments” about the situation.  But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has his eye on this situation and there is talk of an NFL investigation.  Could Cable be suspended and/or fined under the league’s personal conduct policy?

5) Holdout Talk – Every year holdouts are a part of training camp and this year is no different.  The Houston Texans are trying to get disgruntled franchised player CB Dunta Robinson to report after a training camp long holdout where he has refused to sign his franchise deal. Robinson wants the Texans to promise not to slap the tag on him again after the ’09 season.  I figure he will report right before the regular season starts.  Also the following players Jets RB Leon Washington (reported and negotiating), Browns WR/KR Josh Cribbs (reported, but is threatening to sit once the regular season starts), and Marshall are in the middle of squabbles.  Also rookies seemed to be taking longer than usual getting into camp and with the start of the regular season approaching Bengals OT Andre Smith, SF 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, and Bills DE Aaron Maybin remain unsigned.  Crabtree’s management team led by his bail bondsman cousin / advisor David Wells are looking to get more than #7 overall pick Oakland Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-years, $38.25M real/$54M max; $23.5M guaranteed) and have threaten a ridiculous season-long holdout.

Honorable Mention:  Giants QB Eli Manning gets a new contract and everyone questions is he worth it; ‘Wildcat’ Craze continues as every team seems to be trying to find a player to run it; NFL player jurisprudence as several more players have gotten into trouble during camp and you can include former Giants WR Plaxico Burress pleading guilty; Position Battles (Detroit Lions QBs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QBs, Giants WRs, Dolphins Secondary, etc); The investigation and possible distractions caused by allegations against Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger; Rookies and no-name players emerging (Bills DB Ellis Lankster, Eagles DE Jason Babin, Titans WR Kenny Britt, Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski, Chiefs ILB Corey Mays and others);Coaches on the hot seat trying to stay alive (Wade Phillips, Jim Zorn, Marvin Lewis

As always please use the comments section, my email (Lloyd@takingit2thehouse.com) or Twitter (lloydvance_nfl) to let me know what you think.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Surprisingly Vick Gets His Second Chance with the Philadelphia Eagles by Lloyd Vance

Eagles Vick Football

Everyone in NFL circles, including myself, was shocked that the Philadelphia Eagles would be the “second chance” place for Michael Vick

Since Michael Vick recently ended his 23-month federal sentence and was conditionally reinstated by Goodell on July 27th, the murmurs have become a roar as everyone has wondered, “Which NFL team will have the guts to sign Vick?”  Well on August 14th, we received our answer as Vick’s long redemption road back to NFL glory shockingly will start with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Vick agreed to a one-year contract, with a one-year option that will be pay him $1.6 million this year, with a chance for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to make $5.6 million as part of a 2010 option.  None of the money is guaranteed, so essentially this is Vick’s second and quite possibly last chance in the NFL.  The 29-year old obviously in his previous NFL life was a star quality player, but his fall from grace was swift and no one knows what type of player he will be for the Eagles after not playing a game since December 2006.

Throughout the whole Michael Vick dogfighting saga, I believed that the formerly disgraced quarterback after serving his debt to society – served almost two years in Leavenworth — would rightfully receive a second chance in the NFL. But I never thought that the team that I have followed for the majority of my life would enter into the equation.  The Philadelphia Eagles have always preached over the years that they are a high “character” team that does things the “right” way and that certain players were not for them – there are multiple cases including the releasing of former Eagles Thomas Hamner and Damon Moore for dog-related offenses.  Plus the team just finished one of the league’s most tumultuous training camps where there was daily drama including key players going down with season-ending injuries.  But now we know that Michael Vick is indeed the type of football player that the Philadelphia Eagles want and believe that can help them get over the hump in winning a Super Bowl.

I said all along that it was going to take more than a win-hungry head coach to bring in Vick and that it was going to take a franchise’s braintrust to step-up in “accepting” player that has become persona-non-grata.  In the Eagles case, head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb – known Vick since he attempted to recruit the Newport News, VA star to Syracuse — both thought Vick could help the football team and lobbied on his behalf.  “I’m a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance,” Reid said. “Michael has done that. I’ve done a tremendous amount of homework on this and I’ve followed his progress. He has some great people in his corner and he has proven that he’s on the right track.”  But ultimately it was Eagles owner Jeff Lurie who had to look in the mirror and accept that his team would be “the team” with the big target on their backs from a public that has been polarized for over a year regarding this case. 

Lurie said in a recent press conference regarding his decision to bring in Vick, “This took a lot of soul searching for me. I was asked to approve Michael Vick joining a very proud organization several days ago. Sometimes in life you have to make extremely difficult and soul-searching decisions where there is no right answer”.  The Eagles’ owner of over 14 years definitely did not come to the decision on his own.  He consulted Reid, Vick’s mentor former Super Bowl winning head coach Tony Dungy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and most importantly Vick himself.  In the end Lurie and the Eagles were committed at giving Vick a second chance and you have to admire their wherewithal when you know a firestorm of backlash and animosity were sure to follow – rumors of season ticket holders selling their seats on EBay started immediately after the signing.  Lurie concluded his press confenence on Thursday August 14th by saying, “My hope is that as we go forward, that Michael will prove his value in society. Whether he becomes a good football player again is possible, but more importantly for Michael and for the National Football League, he has an opportunity to be a very valuable member of society and that’s the goal here”.

Now in Philadelphia, a place where sports passion has defined a town, Michael Vick will return to the safe confines of the playing field.  However it is off the playing field where Vick will have to convince everyone associated to the Eagles’ community and the NFL right down to the ticketing paying fans that indeed he is a changed man.  Trust me convincing Goodell, Reid, Lurie, Dungy and other in NFL circles was a cakewalk compared to convincing the many dog lovers out there who know all to well the gruesome details outlined in Vick’s indictment that fueled public outrage.  Everyone has their own moral compass and trust me I have received many emails, texts, and phones calls regarding Michael Vick’s potential re-entry into the NFL.

But to all of the people that believe Michael Vick has committed acts that are truly unforgivable, I say “enough” already with persecuting this man.  Let me make this abundantly clear, as a fellow dog owner I in no way support or condone what he did, but the man has served his time and deserves a second chance.  There are arguments on both sides, but in Vick’s case I believe there are too many cases where athletes have been given second and third chances as fans conflictingly cheered for these so-called “Bad Guys”.  I know right here in Philadelphia fans had to decide during the Phillies 2008 World Series Championship run whether to cheer, forget, or jeer Phillies pitcher Brett Myers who earlier was embroiled in controversy after events in Boston with his wife.

Only time will tell if the Eagles made the right decision by signing Michael Vick and if he is truly worthy of them stepping out on the limb for him.  But if men of character like Tony Dungy are willing to give Vick the benefit of a second chance, so am I.  Who knows how Vick — career passing numbers of 930-1730, 11505 yards, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, and a 75.7 rating plus a record of 38-28-1 as a starter in six years w/ the Falcons — will be used in the Eagles offense.  But football right now is secondary as everyone wants to see if he is a changed man or not. 

Vick said in his Eagles’ introductory press conference of the challenges ahead in convincing people that he is a changed man.  “I think everybody deserves a second chance. We all have issues, we all deal with certain things and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you’re committed, then I think you deserve it. But, you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that.”

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)