Always a Weapon, Never a Quarterback: How Michael Vick Has Transformed Into One of the Best Quarterbacks in the National Football League

By Bryn Swartz

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Everybody knows the story of Michael Vick.

A former number one overall draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick earned three Pro Bowl selections and led the Falcons to two postseason berths in his five seasons as the team’s starter.

Vick electrified fans and opposing teams with his running ability.

He led the NFL in rushing average four times. In 2006, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to top 1000 yards in a season. His career yards per rush (7.2) is better than his career yards per pass (6.7), which only begins to tell the struggles of his passing game.

Vick was a significantly below average passer during his tenure with the Falcons.

He topped 20 touchdowns just once. He never threw for 3000 yards in a season. His completion percentage was a dreadful 53.8 percent. And his 75.7 passer rating would have been a good mark–if he played three decades earlier.

In April of 2007, Michael Vick was implicated in an illegal dog fighting ring that had operated for over five years. He was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

After his release from prison in 2009, Michael Vick was mentored by former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy. The Philadelphia Eagles took a gamble on Michael Vick and signed him to a one-year contract with no guarantees. Vick played sparingly throughout the 2009 season, showing glimpses of brilliance.

After the season, the Eagles exercised Vick’s option, bringing him back for 2010. They also traded their franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to the Washington Redskins, officially declaring fourth year quarterback Kevin Kolb the team’s starter.

In the season’s first game, against the Green Bay Packers, Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. Michael Vick replaced Kolb and played the second half. He was brilliant, throwing for 175 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for 103 yards on 11 carries. The Eagles almost overcame a 20-3 deficit, but ended up losing 27-20.

Vick started the season’s second game against the Detroit Lions. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 37 more yards. The Eagles scored 35 points and won their first game of the season. After the game, to the shock of many, Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid announced that Michael Vick was now the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

Vick torched the Jacksonville Jaguars the next week, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Eagles scored 28 points and captured their second victory of the season.

Michael Vick was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for his brilliant play.

Against the Washington Redskins in the season’s fourth game, Michael Vick was injured on a breathtaking 23-yard scramble. He tore rib cartilage and missed the next three games.

Vick returned for one of the biggest games of the season, against the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts. Vick threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles won 26-24, improving to 5-3.

This season, Michael Vick has completed 76 of 125 passes (60.8 percent). He’s thrown for 1017 yards, an average of 8.3 yards per pass attempt. He has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception. And his passer rating is 105.3.

He leads the NFL in passer rating. His interception percentage is perfect. His adjusted yards per pass attempt is one of the ten best single-season averages in NFL history.

He has added 261 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while fumbling just twice. His running ability at age 30 seems to be as dangerous as it was in his 20’s, if not better.

But for the first time in his life, Michael Vick has become more than just an offensive weapon, more than just a player who can run for 30 yards on any given play.

He has become a quarterback. A great quarterback. A fantastic quarterback.

Vick’s ability to throw while on the run is unprecedented. Never in his life has he been so accurate. We all know what Vick can do when a play breaks down. He can run, and almost always runs well.

But now that he has learned to accurately fire a missile downfield while on the run, he is as deadly as any offensive weapon in the game. He’s literally becoming unstoppable.

The Michael Vick we have seen in 2010 really doesn’t have a weakness.

He hasn’t turned the ball over yet. He’s cut down on his fumbles significantly. He hasn’t lost a full start yet, while leading the Eagles to 89 points in their three wins.

According to Pro Football Focus, Michael Vick has produced an offensive rating of 23.4, while playing in just 261 offensive plays.

There’s not a single player in the National Football League who has been as effective as Michael Vick in as little time. Play by play, he is the NFL’s best player in 2010. Easily.

Michael Vick recently told head coach Andy Reid that he thinks the Eagles could reach the Super Bowl this season.

What has Vick done this season that would make you think that isn’t possible?

Now I’m not going to make a prediction that bold yet. Definitely not.

But I do think Vick will take the Eagles into the playoffs. And once the Eagles reach the playoffs this season, anything could happen. Anything.

When you have the best offensive weapon in the NFL as your quarterback, you feel like you can beat any team in the league.

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