Following Michael Vick‘s standout performance in the preseason, Chip Kelly was left little choice but to name the 12-year veteran the Philadelphia Eagles‘ starting quarterback this season.
On Tuesday, that’s exactly what the first-year head coach did.
Now that the drama and scrutiny of a summer-long position battle are in Vick’s rearview mirror, the pressure of needing to perform at a high level this season has just begun.
There is no long-term job security for Vick in Philadelphia, or in the NFL for that matter, beyond this season. He is facing the ultimate ‘show me’ situation not only in the city of Brotherly Love but also as an audition for his services in the year 2014 and beyond.
Vick has certainlylooked more comfortable and in command at the helm of Kelly’s Ferrari of an offense than he has at arguably any point in his 12-year career. His 13-for-15 precision accuracy while throwing for 199 yards, a touchdown and one interception in the first two preseason games is testament to that.
But, at age 33, Vick must now prove not only that he can stay healthy after only completing one injury-free regular season schedule in his career, but also that he can be effective from the jump this season.
Since 2010, Vick’s strongest campaign of his career, he has turned the ball over 33 times in his most recent 23 starts. Over that span, the Eagles are just 10-13 in games with Vick under center. In his career, Vick is just 2-4 as a starter in the postseason, with his most recent win coming against the St. Louis Rams in 2004.
It appears Vick is mentally up to the challenge of disproving his critics and dealing with the week-to-week scrutiny this season is sure to provide.
“I’m having fun playing football,” Vick said after Thursday night’s 14-9 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers. “You’ve got to play this game with intense passion and a purpose and I thank Coach Kelly for what he’s done for me, and that’s given me that confidence that I felt that I was losing at some point in my career.”
Kelly has certainly been prudent in how he has allowed this situation to play out, which has obviously pushed both Vick and Foles throughout the summer to play their best football.
Given Vick’s inability to stay healthy in recent years and his reluctance to slide — as evident as recently as the second quarter of Thursday’s game — Kelly was aware to prepare both he and Foles to take this job and run with it.
“Over the course of the time, we let this play out,” Kelly told reporters Tuesday. “The one thing we all learned from this group is that I think we’ve got two guys – and maybe even three guys – that can play in this league. It was a healthy competition.”
Vick certainly has cleared the first hurdle facing him this season, but Kelly certainly has hedged his bets in regards to his health and effectiveness, with Foles readily available to step in despite this being a “one quarterback system”, as the coach put it.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.