The Philadelphia Eagles knew that when they acquired Michael Vick before the 2009 season they were taking a chance. Michael Vick had just spent almost two years in prison and had a toxic public reputation. The Eagles did not know if Vick’s athleticism and skills had completely eroded. One thing for sure is that if Michael Vick completely rebounded to his prior football shape, the Eagles had to know that his health would always be an issue.
Prior to 2009, in six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick had played in all 16 games just once. That occurred in 2006 when Vick set a then career high record of touchdown passes with 20. In Atlanta, Vick played primarily a “school yard” style of quarterback, improvising with his legs, running as much as possible. Vick’s scrambling led to his multiple injuries, with the most severe occurring in a 2003 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens in which he fractured his right fibula. That injury cost Vick the first eleven games of the season.
In 2009, Vick’s first season with the Eagles, he played sparingly. Michael’s role was primarily within the wildcat package. In 2010, when starting quarterback Kevin Kolb went down to injury, Vick played so well, he ultimately won the starting job. Even then, Vick suffered torn rib cartilage in his second start against the Washington Redskins, costing him to miss three games of the season.
In the ninth game of the 2011 game against the Arizona Cardinals, Michael Vick suffered two broken ribs. The injury cost Vick three games of the season. Besides the rib injury, Vick also had a couple hand injuries and a concussion. Vick played through the minor injuries and showed a lot of toughness.
The interesting circumstances of Michael’s injuries in 2011 was that none of them occurred while Vick was scrambling. The usual concensus is that Vick’s reckless play allows defenses to take huge shots at him, causing injury. Last season that was not the case. The rib injury, along with the other dings, actually happened while Vick was in the pocket.
The question lingers: can Michael Vick stay healthy in 2012, playing all 16 games? The Eagles offense relies so heavily on passing the football. Even if Vick is provided terrific protection from his offensive line, there is a tendency for him to hold on to the ball too long. Since Vick is so athletically gifted, he is always looking to make a big play. That mindset is risky.
Another attributing factor to Vick’s injuries is his size. He is smallish by NFL quarterback standards at 6’0, 210 pounds. Vick’s slender frame can not absorb the typical punishment that is doled out to quarterbacks in the NFL.
NFL quarterbacks are injured often, even with all the rule changes protecting them. Upon evaluating Michael Vick, I doubt he will play in all sixteen games. The fact that Vick runs often, extends plays by hanging on to the football and is undersized for the position are all ingredients that lead to injury.
Michael Vick is poised to have an outstanding 2012 season. All the pieces are in place for the Eagles offense to soar. Perhaps Vick will recognize just how invaluable he is to the Eagles success by utilizing a quicker read and release and by properly taking the precautionary measures before a big hit. Otherwise, the over/under on starting sixteen games will be heavily leaning to the under.