By this time next week, the NFL will have crowned the 53rdÂ consecutive champion not named the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Birds prepare for their exciting, new world under Chip Kelly, a huge decision looms over the next 10 days.
Actually, the judgment on whether to pay Michael Vick $3 million on Feb. 6th isnâ€™t all that difficult. If the Eagles are interested truly in charting a new course, they absolutely cannot keep the quarterback who helped hasten their slide into NFL mediocrity. Paying Vick even a nickel more than the team has already sent his way would be a huge mistake. During his four seasons here, Vick has had one very good stretchâ€”his 2010 aberrationâ€”and plenty of the infuriating play that came to characterize his final seasons in Atlanta. We donâ€™t need any more of that here. Even if Kelly has to recycle one of his former Oregon QBs to operate his offense, it would be a better situation than even one more day of Vick in the Eaglesâ€™ world.
Vick is not an accurate quarterback. His decision-making skills are poor. He is not a leader, is injury prone and isnâ€™t half the devastating running threat when he first came to town, much less during his run-around prime in Atlanta. Mistaking his propensity to bolt from the pocket at the first sign of danger, usually after a poor pre-snap read, as an indication that he would be perfect for Kellyâ€™s spread option offense is dead wrong. The belief that QBs in the Kelly scheme are primarily runners is incorrect. They are first and foremost decision makers, and that is hardly Vickâ€™s forte.
It may seem logical and easy to use Vick to help with the 2013 transition from Andy Reid to Kelly, but it would prohibit the Eagles from moving forward. Vick is clearly on the downside of his career, and thanks to the concussion problems he has had over the past couple seasons, is one big hit (or maybe even a small one) away from being shelved for good.
More than that, he represents the last gasp of Reidâ€™s tenure, when the team was less interested in finding players who could actually contribute and more prone to signing flashy performers who couldnâ€™t fit into a winning team concept. Vick was fun at times to watch, but he ultimately was ill equipped to run an NFL offense. Even if Kellyâ€™s system is better suited for the college game, Vick is not his man.
By the way, the Eagles donâ€™t owe Vick a thing. What began as a reclamation project and a grand gesture by Reid at a time when Vick was considered the football equivalent of yellowcake uranium by many NFL teams grew into more than either party could have ever imagined. If the Birds cut Vick, he wonâ€™t be able to collect the full $100 million from his contract, but he will have earned about $40 mil and have taken a large step toward financial solvency. He will have also shown some desperate teamsâ€”perhaps even Reidâ€™s Chiefsâ€”that he has enough left to be a stopgap starter in the league. But not in Philadelphia.
Though the 2013 season is likely to be about stopgap solutions at many positions for the Eagles, they canâ€™t entrust the offense to Vick. His time is through in this town, especially after his comments following the season-ending debacle in the Meadowlands. If he were truly a leader, Vick would have spoken to his teammates away from the media eye and motivated them to play harder and more selflessly during the seasonâ€™s ugly middle section. Instead, he was unable to help create a culture of professionalism in the locker room and chose to explain his shortcomings this year as a by-product of his teammatesâ€™ ineffectiveness and poor attitudes. His comments about many Eaglesâ€™ performances may have been dead on, but by choosing to air them publicly, rather than handling that business in a team setting, Vick showed just how selfish he can be. Kelly doesnâ€™t need that kind of me-first player on his first team, especially at the most important position on the field.
Vick will be remembered by some for the stretch of time in 2010 when NFL defenses couldnâ€™t solve his skills, and he helped the Eagles to the NFC title. Others will focus on his decay over the past two seasons, when injury and wise opposing defensive coaches conspired to render him ordinary, and at times, so turnover prone that he was a huge detriment to the Eaglesâ€™ attack. The deadline for Vickâ€™s bonus payday is fast approaching, and the team must let it pass without cutting another check to the quarterback.
The Reid Era is done. Itâ€™s time to conclude the Vick Experiment, too.
â€˘ Andrew Bynumâ€™s zero-gravity world continues apace, and hopes are rising that he soon may actually take a step onto the court to play real, full-speed basketball. Even as that mess continues to play out, at least the Sixers can be pleased that they have an All-Star guard, Jrue Holiday, at a relative discount price. Signing Holiday to a four-year, $41 million deal (incentives could push it to $46 mil) in November was a great move that will solidify a key position for years.
â€˘ So, the Philliesâ€™ big offensive outfield move is a player who is injured, way overweight and unable to play even serviceable defense. No wonder there is such a huge buzz about this team. Itâ€™s strange how GM Ruben Amaro is trying to make it sound as if the teamâ€™s payroll situation is a condition, rather than a self-inflicted wound. After six years of looking forward to the beginning of each season with great anticipation, we are now living on hope and wishing for some miracles. They donâ€™t come along too often in baseball.
â€˘ Villanovaâ€™s two wins over top-five teams last week prove the Wildcats can play good, tough ball. But with four games in 11 days from Jan. 30th to Feb. 9th, Nova must now prove it has the focus and character to make a run at an NCAA bid, rather than just revealing itself to be an inconsistent giant killer. Beating Syracuse and Louisville is great, but going 3-1 during that stretch will show more about the team.