Michael Vick will spend the rest of his life trying to prove to the world that his troubled past is behind him and that he is a reformed person and a quality human being. Vick will spend Sunday afternoon trying to prove that he is a reformed quarterback and a quality leader.
While all the attention this season continues to be on Peyton Manning, Vick will look to use the spotlight on Denver’s Sports Authority Field At Mile High to demonstrate that he too is one of the NFL’s elite signal callers. After a disappointing Thursday Night Football start against the Kansas City Chiefs, the former Virginia Tech star will be trying to redeem himself against the undefeated Denver Broncos.
After successfully winning a training camp battle against backup Nick Foles, Vick looked outstanding running the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense in the first two weeks of the season. Feeling invigorated by Chip Kelly’s aggressive play-calling and up-tempo system, the 33-year-old southpaw looked like a four-time Pro Bowl Selection on steroids.
Showing a mixture of confidence, athletic ability and good decision-making Vick, thrashed the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers for 719 yards combined through his arm and his legs. Looking spry and refreshed, he rushed for two touchdowns while throwing for four TDs without an interception.
Piling up quarterback ratings of 112.6 and 123.4, although only recording a 1-1 record, it appeared that the former first overall NFL draft pick had finally matured into the type of field general that NFL teams pine for.
Following a training camp where Vick showed tremendous leadership, it appeared that general manager Howie Roseman and Kelly had made the right decision by bringing him back to help orchestrate the transition from west coast offense to the Eagles’ fast-break no-huddle offense.
Then came last week’s nationally televised game against former head coach Andy Reid. Vick was back to being the careless, unsettled turnover machine that he has been throughout a majority of his career. Looking jittery and lacking confidence, Vick threw two interceptions, was sacked six times and fumbled once.
With his head pointed towards the Lincoln Financial Field turf, a dejected and battered Eagles quarterback appeared emotionally beaten as he walked towards the locker room.
Playing with only a one year contract, and too old to be the quarterback that Kelly’s Eagles will build their NFL program around, Vick is basically auditioning each week for a shot at a new contract, most likely with another team.
The argument can be made that his time in prison combined with a year sitting on the Eagles’ sideline really makes him three years younger in terms of NFL wear and tear, but a 34-year old QB with a sordid past will not be very attractive to most teams after the season. Perhaps he’ll stick somewhere as a backup, but it’s not likely that Vick’s ego will allow him to agree to those terms without exhausting every potential opportunity to start.
For these reasons, the “Michael Vick Experience” can’t afford to take weeks off like the Chiefs game. Going up against the ballyhooed Manning, it’s important that the accurate, calm, explosive Vick shows up in Denver. The obvious emotions of pressing to excel against former mentor Reid can’t be apparent against the living legend calling the Broncos’ signals.
If Vick wants to put the NFL on notice, it will be his ability to distribute the ball effectively to his offensive weapons and to make the correct calls at the line of scrimmage that will resonate with league executives and coaches.
Who better than Manning to go up against if you are looking to compare field generalship? Unworldly athletic ability is a nice tool for a quarterback; intelligent decision-making is a required asset for truly great leaders on the field.
This Sunday, Vick takes another step towards defining his future. While all the hype is surrounding the “unstoppable” Broncos offense heading into the game, the post-game chatter needs to center around the execution of no. 7 in the green and white jersey if the Eagles have any shot at coming away with a victory.
For Vick, his performance under another national microscope could help dictate if and where he will be suiting up next season.