August 23, 2012
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is expected to play in the team’s 2012 season opener against the Cleveland Browns, per head coach Andy Reid. Reid’s proclamation comes after Vick was knocked out of two consecutive preseason games. Vick injured his throwing hand in the first game, but was then cleared to play in game two, where he took an ugly shot and left the game with sore ribs.
Vick’s preseason injuries are especially troubling due to the fact that he missed three starts in 2011, and has been able to complete a full 16-game season just once in his entire career. His slender frame and tendency to run with the football have made him an injury risk throughout his career, while a rib injury limited his effectiveness dramatically last year, as well as his availability.
There were questions surroudning Vick’s ability to stay on the field and help his team win games entering the preseason, but with two injuries in two games, those questions have quickly turned into serious doubts. Can the Eagles truly ever rely on Vick for a full season? Or to just stay healthy enough from an overall stand-point so they know they can count on him in the post-season?
The answer is no. It’s pretty plain and simple, too. The guy literally has done that for an NFL team once in his career. He’s 32, so he’s only getting less durable as time goes on, and is playing behind a decimated offensive line. And this is an offensive line that was already giving shoddy pass protection last year. Then they lost starting tackle Jason Peters, and they’ve actually gotten worse.
Vick is undeniably one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately, his rocket arm hasn’t translated into concistent accuracy. His athleticism helps him evade pressure in the pocket, but it hasn’t really made him a consistent pocket passer. And for all of his strengths as an athlete and game changer, his inability to stay on the field – his greatest negative – strongly out-weighs anything positive he can do.
It sounds harsh, but how valuable can a dynamic, explosive quarterback be if he isn’t even on the football field?
That’s the question the Eagles have to ask themselves. However, the reality of the situation is they don’t have a choice but to rely on Vick. Can they truly rely on him to be there every week or to even last through the season? No, they absolutely cannot.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Vick can’t or won’t stay healthy. It doesn’t mean he won’t even somehow start 16 games for the second time in his career. But it does mean the Eagles are playing a constant guessing game, and throwing caution to the wind.
They’re hinging their 2012 and likely future success on a guy that takes a ton of hits, both because they can’t protect him, and because apparently they can’t protect him from himself. And really, after releasing Donovan McNabb and trading Kevin Kolb over the past two years, they only have themselves to blame.