I guess they forgot how bad you are Mike…
We all have our biases whether we wear them squarely on our sleeves or keep them securely sheathed. How those biases affect our collective sports loving existence changes lives in ways eliciting game winning smiles or adding exponential lost argument miles between friends of lifetime meaning. Games like what will go down Sunday between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins (4:15 FOX) are definitely an exercise in learning of ourselves. A measuring stick of social imperatives forcing us to find the lesson or scratch our collective heads guessing what it was we just…experienced. Let’s get one thing out of the way…If you don’t like Michael Vick simply for reasons surrounding his dog fighting conviction, you are entitled to do so. It doesn’t make you racist if you don’t like Mike…but…we should all ask those who abhor Vick to humanly question whether their rationale is sincere and beyond hypocrisy. It’s that simple.
Two days before the game I’m sensing a unique vibe grounded in both prideful excitement and apprehensive but absurdly anxious nail biting. It’s more calm than I thought and the reticence is precarious. A McNabb victory would spell disaster and questions whether the trade was logical would begin in earnest. A Vick win would validate the trade with a lot of Eagles fans…despite coming from someone other than Kevin Kolb at the helm.
Earlier this week, the thunder of fanaticism was that of a sure season’s monster hurricane. Winds whipping folks into frenzied dementia…twisting the sounds of their weathered lips to actually proclaim the Philadelphia Eagles would land in the Super Bowl; an end game that just so happens to be in Dallas of all Philly hated places.
These past 5 days were a sports talk radio station dream supreme everything Eagle green. Michael Vick has played out of his mind since taking over for the concussed Kolb in Week 1. If not for an ill advised end zone throw when he should have ran for the score, the Eagles just might have a record unblemished.
Expectations are reminiscent of regular seasons when Donovan perennially steadied Lincoln Financial Field only for the team he commanded to somehow playoffs lose just as fans finally had hope it might be the year a parade rolled through South Philly. Fans have to understand those heartbreaking losses weren’t one man’s fault and now, because of Michael Vick, the city is excited again. Excited like campaigns unfortunately transformed plain simply because the back of the Eagles jersey read Donovan McNabb’s name…
After Easter Sunday’s shocking trade sending McNabb south down I-95 to inexplicably a hated division rival, the Washington Redskins, there was this relief. Relief Philly’s greatest franchise quarterback was finally out of the city. Fans clamored for years for a move to be made and now that it became a reality some rested easy. McNabb just didn’t do enough for their tastes and had to go. They tired of his act despite his top 3 of the decade resume. Sentiments of trader beware surfaced immediately. Some definitely wanted 5 out, but felt a void of Philadelphia dubious proportions remained in the aftermath.
Was Kevin Kolb ready despite a relative lack of experience? Most were adamant in giving him to get a shot and even wanted to gift a winning franchise a pass to take a step back for a season it seemed. Huh? Are you crazy? After all the scrutiny heaped upon McNabb, the city was actually going to give Andy Reid a do over if the Birds didn’t make the playoffs? Laughable.
Was the young but immensely talented receiving corps ready to take hits they seemed unwilling to withstand or safety unrelenting over the top feel? Remember last season in Dallas when Maclin searched for the safety in the end zone as a McNabb pass dropped at his feet? He’s improving but his heart will be questioned if he continues to call for the training staff before he hits the ground after a catch.
Are Maclin and the super talented DeSean Jackson durable enough to go entire seasons without eventually landing themselves on the sideline sans pads? Brett Celek is the receiver who will get many balls thrown his way because as this team is built, someone has to perform in the middle of the field or defenses will ultimately come up with a scheme to shut off the outside and thereby stop one of the most explosive offensive units in the league.
Would the team hold up despite the mass exodus of veterans instrumental in Philadelphia’s league wide success the past decade? Trent Cole, Stewart Bradley and Asante Samuel will have to lead by athletic example because this defense is otherwise depleted. Asante has to know Donovan will attempt to get him to bite on a route with a timely pump fake Sunday.
How would Andy Reid coach now that his 5 security blanket stole itself to DC? Andy has been known to foul up timeouts and is pedestrian at clock management at best. Donovan won a lot of games for a coach very unwilling to change his ways. He has to evolve with the youth he now currently has and maybe it’s time for Reid to learn how difficult it is without a steady leader under center.
Vick has changed that.
Would the backfield of LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver maintain a level of excellence worthy of the diamond imprint left by Brian Westbrook? It’s unfortunate Weaver was lost for the season after tearing his knee vs. Green Bay. He was such a great blocker, underrated runner and great locker room guy. He will be missed dearly. LeSean McCoy will benefit from defenses biting up front spying Vick and seems early on to have taken advantage. He must be able to pick up blitzes. Whether he’s bad enough to do so is another concern.
Mike Vick simply waited his turn and Kevin Kolb must do the same…patiently. Vick was asked to run the Wildcat offense (an offense that mimicked Vick’s skills since its league wide origin) last season and didn’t have much success for Mike was asked to either roll out and find a lane to scamper through with shifty speed, line up as a decoy receiver or run in between the tackles…something that was incredibly stupid given his size.
Was this the idea Eagles brass had for Vick at his signing? Did Andy Reid have this planned all along? Did he and the rest of the Eagles brain trust decide that spoon feeding MV7 to Philly’s fan base was the best course of action considering the perception of Vick off the field? It was shocking the Eagles picked up the second year of his two year deal after not giving Vick much opportunity his first season in Philly…but they knew his value if he panned out and he sure has early on (His jersey is popular once again).
I think teams like San Francisco dropped the ball in not signing Vick.
I can’t fathom league wide player personnel heads thinking Vick was washed up. If everyday football fans could see Vick’s potential, then shouldn’t NFL people who know better think the same thing?
Again, was it all a bluff?
It was absolutely ridiculous there wasn’t a competition in training camp for the quarterback spot late of McNabb. Eagles fans were about to get what they wished for…Kevin Kolb was named the starter as if he was a 12 year incumbent. Vick was barely mentioned as other than a change of pace gimmick. Kolb will probably be a capable NFL leader, but I don’t think he was quite ready for what was to Philly be. An abysmal mop up job in McNabb’s relief after 5’s benching in Baltimore and just two other NFL starts…one a blow out lost to the Super Bowl champs…were just not much of a indicator whether or not Kolb is the Eagles future. Fans wanted him to be that guy, but once they got a glimpse of 7 doing incredible stuff, the fan tide changed dramatically.
Let’s be real for a moment. When Vick was guiding the Atlanta Falcons, pundits here and there diminished his talent as a run first athlete. Mike did not study the game nearly as much as he should but let’s consider the security successful quarterbacks across the league have at their leisure…an outstanding line. Vick’s line was very inconsistent and despite having a rushing attack near the top of the league (because of his rushing yards), other offensive deficiencies were just as glaring. He had Alge Crumpler and receivers not yet mature (Joe Horn the exception) enough for prime time.
Remember, before his incarceration, he rushed for an NFL record 1,039 and had another season where he ran for 902 yards. Those yards lead to wins. Simply because fans are used to seeing drop back passers hoist the Lombardi trophy doesn’t mean a scrambler can’t do it. How ludicrous is that notion?
On the collegiate level, most athletic quarterbacks are told to make a quick read and if no one is open, tuck the ball and take it to the crib. Vick, because of shoddy coaching, was allowed to be the quarterback he was at Va Tech in the NFL. While electrifying, unless you have a highlight chest of weapons and a great line, you will not go deep in the playoffs.
Just ask Randall Cunningham. Vick is performing at such a high level that only Cunningham comes to mind when thinking excitement.
Vick has matured in so many ways and it’s never more evident than when he’s surveying the entire field to hit the open receiver. He can’t do it alone.
No one man in the NFL wins by himself. Not Peyton Manning, not Tom Brady, not Drew Brees, not Joe Montana, not Troy Aikman, not Donovan McNabb not John Elway and definitely not Michael Vick. A quarterback is only as good as the sum of his team’s parts and now that Vick finally has weapons, his comfort level is remarkable. He’s always had an arm that shot 50 caliber ropes to every inch of the field, but now he entices us with another weapon…incredible poise. A poise he picked up from his good friend Donovan McNabb. A poise he picked up by taking snaps with the second team. He worked hard in film study. His skills have truly developed and the two years he was out of the league saved his body potentially hundreds of hits.
Michael Vick is going to get hit because of the way he plays. He’s taken hits his entire life on and off the field. A hard speed knock by a grateful linebacker is not going to push Vick to the sideline. Think about it, most scramblers get hurt inside the pocket.
Another point is the throws Vick is making are similar to the attempts Donovan was also completing while he was in Philly. The bevy of young receivers have NFL grown so their comfort level is heightened as well. Yes the line is sub par and must be an off season focus, but Michael Vick is probably the only signal caller in the NFL who is ahead of the league using his qb legs.
The most important stat is wins and Vick is 38-28-1 during his NFL career, while Donovan is 93-51-1. Few athletes win championships and everyone knows there is an element of luck associated with winning titles. With some, it’s in the cards and others it simply is not.
Donovan has seen it all. He’s wise beyond his years from dealing with a Philly press pushing his buttons to sell papers. Somehow the Philly press became the authority and decided it was time for 5 to go. What? A quarterback with 4 years left on his arm and has won games…big and small…is no longer serviceable? He was so unappreciated by this town you would think he was a criminal with bad intentions who spit in the smug surly faces of the men and women before him in various pressers. Yes, there was a disconnect with Donovan, the press and also fans in Philadelphia, but he worked hard for this town and did so knowing Eagles brass was not going to give him weapons needed to get over the hump no matter what the reason. Donovan was never a bad guy who rebelled when most would have. We all know he was the opposite. Donovan McNabb was a great soul model for the city of Philadelphia. He was a great leader who cared about his teammates, the fans and the broader community at large. The press in Philly have their own mind and some of the scribes here rock with whatever they think the fans of Philly want and how does passion evolve if it’s not tempered in courage and truth?
That some feel Donovan McNabb is not a top ten NFL quarterback given his resume is absolutely ridiculous. This is a league where merit should be the sole barometer. What has Phillip Rivers won to merit his standing? Carson Palmer? Tony Romo? Aaron Rodgers? What have they done to push a winner down the list despite having weapons Donovan still dreams of? He hasn’t any true offensive parts in Washington. Who on his current team would start for another? Somehow this gets lost, but facts are facts. Mike Shanahan is too good of a coach to let things continue as they have and will surely surround his skilled quarterback with the necessary pieces to compete for a Super Bowl title.
Which leads us to Sunday…
I have the Skins winning 28-27 with Donovan breaking Philly’s hearts once again…but this time with a huge win in front of a raucous crowd cheering 5 initially but booing as they should later. They must know he’s not going to stink up the joint Sunday and the time has come to give the Eagles organization something it can feel…a nationally televised very emotional loss. This town doesn’t not deserve a bad performance from Donovan even being a member of the “enemy”.
How weird will it be to see McNabb run on the field a Redskin?
“I’m sure I’ll probably have some type of feelings, Donovan said Thursday on a DC radio show. “Who doesn’t have feelings getting ready for a game? But I just hope I walk out the right tunnel.”
This game will be weird. I actually want both quarterbacks to do well but I have no ties to either team. It should be an exciting and entertaining affair. From all accounts, the weather will be a factor as it’s supposed to rain throughout game day. These Skins/Eagles games are something else and adding another uncertain dynamic only seems apropos.
We should all be glued to the TV Sunday. There are so many story lines and hopefully the game will live up to its billing. Vick the early MVP candidate vs. the vet with not yet hair of gray. This should be an epic battle no matter what they say.