You would have thought that an embarrassing 8-8 season for the Philadelphia Eagles would have silenced the team heading into the 2012 season, especially considering the Super Bowl aspirations the team boldly talked about last training camp.
This team is still talking, and quarterback Michael Vick is leading the bold proclamations. Last week, he stated that he thinks the Eagles have what it takes to develop into a dynasty, a comment that was later echoed by running back LeSean McCoy.
I’m not even going to talk about whether the Eagles can turn into a dynasty. Right now, it’s just about getting back into the postseason and trying to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
For that to happen, Michael Vick needs to be healthy. That is the number one key to the season.
But just as important as Vick staying healthy is Vick playing effective while he is healthy. That’s not a given either. Vick hasn’t exactly been a dominant quarterback throughout his career.
He hasn’t always been a dominant quarterback with the Eagles either, despite having a tremendous supporting cast on offense.
In 2010, Vick was the unofficial runner-up in the NFL Most Valuable Player award. He earned Comeback Player of the Year honors and led the Eagles to their first division title since 2006, throwing for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He posted a 100.2 passer rating and rushed for 676 yards and nine touchdowns.
At times, he was unstoppable. Literally unstoppable.
There was the game against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football when Vick threw for four touchdowns and rushed for two more, and probably could have accumulated eight total touchdowns had the Eagles left him in for the whole game. The Eagles won that game 59-28 and scored 35 points in the first 15:06 of the game.
Then there was the game against the New York Giants, now known as the Miracle at the New Meadowlands. Vick led the Eagles back from a 31-10 fourth quarter deficit, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one more in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
But things were different in 2011. Much different.
As a result, he threw just 18 touchdowns and rushed for only one. His 14 interceptions and 10 fumbles give him a total of 24 combined interceptions/fumbles in just 13 starts. That’s not acceptable.
So is there really reason to believe that Vick is poised to turn in the best season of his career in 2012, like all the experts are predicting?
Yeah, I think there is. I fully expect Vick to have the best year of his career, better than 2010 even.
In 2010, he didn’t know that he was going to be the starting quarterback until the season had already started. He didn’t have an offseason of preparing with the team or working with the first-team offense. And he still played great.
The main excuses in 2011 are obvious. He didn’t have an offseason to work with the coaches and the rest of his teammates because of the NFL lockout. It would have been his first full offseason as the team’s starting quarterback and it didn’t happen. Vick also had an angry and unmotivated DeSean Jackson for the entire season, and I believe that definitely cost the Eagles a couple of victories.
But everybody is happy in 2012. Left tackle Jason Peters will miss the season but the Eagles stepped up and signed free agent tackle Demetress Bell to fill the void. Jackson is motivated after signing a new contract. Maclin is playing for a new contract. Everybody else is still around and as good as ever (LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant, Brent Celek).
And don’t forget that both Vick and head coach Andy Reid are playing for their job this year. The firing of Reid is a lot more likely but both could be gone next year if they don’t perform this season. Vick’s contract can easily be terminated by the Eagles if he doesn’t play well this season.
I’m really not too concerned about Vick playing well this season. I think last year was a fluke and he’s poised to turn in his best season in 2012. I just hope he can stay healthy. To me, that’s the biggest concern.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles 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.