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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Vick Stays, Fans' Hopes Fade…

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Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

So, you thought you were through with Michael Vick. You thought you wouldn’t have to put up with his inconsistency and turnovers and injuries anymore. You thought you had turned this page and you were glad to do it, and now it’s staring you in the face again.

You weren’t alone, of course. Most Eagles fans assumed their team would jettison Vick as soon as they could. Most Eagles fans assumed new coach Chip Kelly would start a new era of Eagles football with a new quarterback or, at worst, a gently-used one in Nick Foles.

Now it appears most Eagles fans were wrong. The Eagles restructured Vick’s contract on Monday to what essentially breaks down to a one-year deal, and Kelly said he expects to go into next season with Vick and Foles as his QBs and there would be open competition in training camp to determine the starter.

Why is Vick back? Like Andy Reid before him, Kelly has apparently been seduced by Vick’s athletic ability.

“There’s a skill set that Mike has that really excites me,’’ Kelly said on Monday.

The new coach then raved about Vick’s arm strength and his quick release and his athleticism and his toughness. And Vick certainly has all of those qualities. But what about the qualities he lacks?

He’s got a strong arm? Sure, but he’s weak at reading defenses.

He’s got a quick release? Sure, but he’s slow at making decisions.

He’s athletic? Sure, but he’s a turnover machine.

He’s tough? Sure, but he’s injury prone.

Kelly deftly danced around those issues on Monday, when he held a press conference that was supposed to introduce his assistant coaches, but ended up being mostly about his quarterback situation. And that’s not surprising, since quarterback is the most important position in team sports and the Eagles haven’t been very good there for a while.

Perhaps Kelly is convinced – just as Reid was – that he can remake Vick in his own image and turn him into a consistent and proficient quarterback. Kelly made it clear that Vick’s problems the last two seasons weren’t all his fault and his evaluation of Vick was based solely on that fabulous skill set.

But Kelly said something else about the quarterback situation, something that was pretty much lost in the shuffle. At one point, when Vick was the topic of conversation, Kelly said something about “the landscape for other quarterbacks.”

Translation: Mike Vick and Nick Foles might not be great, but there’s nothing much better out there. And that is why luck once again seems to be against a Philadelphia sports team. The last two years, there were several potential franchise quarterbacks available in the draft and everyone knows about the success young QBs like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson have had. But there doesn’t appear to be any blue-chippers out there this season, at least none worthy of the No. 4 overall pick.

Perhaps Kelly does have strategy that includes trading Vick and/or Foles and moving down in the draft and getting one of the top college QBs. Perhaps he’s just biding his time until he can get a franchise quarterback, much like Reid did with veteran QB Doug Pedersen before handing over the team to Donovan McNabb.

For now, it sure sounds like Chip Kelly plans on keeping Mike Vick around, simply because he has no other real alternative at this time. For now, the future looks a lot like the past, whether you like it or not.

 Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan32@aol.com.


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