2012 Philadelphia Eagles Preview: QB Michael Vick's Health is the Key to the 2012 Season

By Bryn Swartz

It ranks as the boldest statement spoken by a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback in almost a year.

In fact, it might rank as a bolder statement than Vince Young’s dream team comment. After all, Vince Young’s dream team comment can only be applied to the 2011 season, which is mercifully over. Critics could apply the comment by Michael Vick to every loss for the remainder of his tenure in Philadelphia.

Here’s what Vick said:

“When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there, I think we have a chance to be that. I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty.”

Personally, I’m not a fan of Vick’s comment, but what’s done is done, and the important thing is that Vick finds a way to back up his bold statement.

I also like the way Vick revised his comment later (probably because he was told to do so).

“I think just getting to the postseason right now is our focus. The Super Bowl is going to come if it’s meant to happen. Some of the best teams have some of the best luck. Maybe we’ll have some of that. I think our focus needs to be one game at a time, just getting into the postseason.”

Anyway, if the Eagles are to develop into a dynasty in the future, they’re going to need many more seasons out of their 32-year old quarterback.

That makes the most important aspect of Vick’s 2012 season his health. When Mike Vick is your quarterback, you’re always going to have to worry about his health. It’s the way he plays football that puts him at so much risk. I love his style of play. I just hate the potential injury risk that comes with every hit he takes.

Let’s look at the last two seasons, Vick’s only two years as the team’s starting quarterback. In those two years, Vick suffered a number of injuries. I’m going to list the total at five.

Here’s the official injury list.

1. 2010, Game 4: rib cartilage damage against the Washington Redskins caused Vick to miss the last three quarters of the game, as well as the next three games
2. 2010, Game 15: quad injury against the Minnesota Vikings that clearly affected his performance throughout the game, and likely would have cost him an opportunity against the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale had he needed to play
3. 2011 Game 2: concussion against the Atlanta Falcons after he was knocked backwards into offensive tackle Todd Herremans
4. 2011 Game 3: bruised right hand against the New York Giants after his non-throwing hand collided with the helmet of defensive end Chris Canty
5. 2011 Game 9: broken ribs against the Arizona Cardinals after a hit from linebacker Daryl Washington on the third play of the game

Vick’s injury caused him to leave the game three of the five times.

He stayed in against Minnesota in 2010, but played poorly, and I still think the Eagles would have won if Vick had let Kevin Kolb play the final 55 minutes.

And Vick stayed in against the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, but also played poorly, and I still think the Eagles would have won if Vick had let Vince Young play the final 55 minutes.

Notice a pattern? Weak teams but both beat the Eagles because Vick thought he could heroically play through the pain.

My point is that I think that Vick needs to recognize when an injury is severe enough that he should come out of the game. You bruise your thigh, you stay in. But you break your ribs and you can’t move around or throw accurately, you need to leave the game.

Playing heroically only counts if you can also play well. That’s one of my big philosophies on playing through pain.

Another interesting note is that Vick’s three injuries in 2011 all happened when he was in the pocket and not scrambling.

The concussion was a fluke accident. His head banged against Herremans’ leg. It could have happened to any quarterback.

The same goes with the hand injury against the Giants. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo actually suffered the exact same injury against the Eagles in week 16 when his hand collided with defensive end Jason Babin’s helmet after throwing a pass. Romo left the game.

And the final injury occurred when Vick threw a pass after staying in the pocket. Again, that could have happened to any quarterback.

(Vick also suffered a dislocated finger against the San Francisco 49ers but he played through the injury. I didn’t consider it bad enough to count with the other injuries because there are no reports or even speculation of it affecting his play at all.)

My point is that while I think Vick’s health is extremely important to the Eagles’ success in 2012, I don’t like all of the criticism that happens when experts say that Vick’s style of play causes him to get hurt so much.

It does, to a point. He absolutely has to learn how to slide. It’s a necessity.

But I’m convinced that there are some quarterbacks who are just get unlucky, and that’s what happened to Vick last year. Don’t tell me that bad luck didn’t play a part in him getting knocked out in three games.

Regardless though, the Eagles do not have a solid backup quarterback for the 2012 season. Whether it’s Mike Kafka, Nick Foles or Trent Edwards who the Eagles use as their number two guy next year, he’s a major drop-off from Vick.

If Vick doesn’t miss any time next season, I have complete confidence that the Eagles will make the playoffs. 12 wins seems likely, with a minimum of 10, and a maximum of 14. That would guarantee a playoff berth for the Eagles.

But if Vick does miss significant time, the Eagles have one of three options.

They could thrive, like they did with Koy Detmer/AJ Feeley in 2002 and Jeff Garcia in 2006. They could survive, like they did with AJ Feeley in 2007 or Kevin Kolb in 2009. Or they could burn and die, like they did with Mike McMahon in 2005 and Vince Young in 2011.

Let’s pray that Vick can stay healthy. The Eagles are due for a couple of good breaks, and one of them would be a quarterback not suffering an injury for a full season. That’s happened just one time in the past seven seasons (Donovan McNabb, 2008).

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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