Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michael Vick Is an MVP Candidate for Philadelphia Eagles

From 1991 to 1997, Steve Young led the N.F.L. in passer rating in each year but one. He also kept defenses on edge with his daring running.

In other words, he wasn’t shabby. But after the Eagles’ demolition of the Redskins on Monday night, Young, now an analyst for ESPN, said Michael Vick was almost playing a different game. In the postgame broadcast, he called Vick’s performance a transformational moment. “The full fruition of the position,” said Young, who added that it would send shock waves through the league.

The former quarterback Trent Dilfer, also an analyst for ESPN, said he was “flabbergasted.” Vick was doing things “nobody has ever seen before.”

Dilfer said Vick now truly understood the craft of being quarterback, meaning in the passing game. But Vick, who threw for four scores and for 333 yards, also ran eight times for 80 yards and two scores. By doing so, he happened to move past Young into second place in rushing yards by a quarterback (the former Eagle Randall Cunningham is No. 1) .

Young and Dilfer also used the word artistry, and those who watched the game will understand. Vick had the athleticism and grace of a Michael Jordan or a Roger Federer – part sport and part dance, and one of the reasons we set aside time in our lives to watch these games.

More reactions to Vick:

Ashley Fox, The Philadelphia Inquirer, says he’s building the case to be the league’s M.V.P.:

What he did to the Redskins should be against Roger Goodell’s rules. In the Eagles’ 59-28 win, it was as if Vick were playing a video game Monday night, controlling the defenders, making them run in slow motion as he blew past them for big gains and touchdowns.

Doug Farrar, Shutdown Corner:

The primary difference between the Vick that basically ran a one-trick speed option offense with the Atlanta Falcons and the new, more polished quarterback we see today is his ability and willingness to read the field and diagnose his potential open recovers before taking off on the run.

Sam Donnellon of The Philadelphia Daily News reminded everyone that Vick’s signing was still considered a “dubious gimmick” as late as this past summer:

Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie had no idea, of course. Andy Reid had no idea, and neither did you. It’s even hard to believe Vick thought he could do this, although his willingness to become a student, to take his second chance (and maybe a third) and work it into this unlikely and yes, still uneasy story, is paying off in jaw-dropping dividends.

Maybe that’s not giving enough credit to Banner, Lurie and Reid — although the omission of praise for those three in Philadelphia should come as no surprise. Yes, the Eagles haven’t won a Super Bowl, but they are typically among the best teams in the league. It seems no accident. The signing of Vick fits the pattern: smart planning. And the Eagles’ bosses were willing to weather the storm of negative publicity that accompanied the signing. But we’re forgetting one person. It seems Donovan McNabb should also take a bow; he gave his blessing to the Vick signing and served as his mentor.

Coincidentally, McNabb was Vick’s foil on Monday night, and said after the game, according to The Inquirer: “I’m happy for him. Not tonight. I told him I’m [mad] at him. But I told him to stay humble, and good things will continue to happen for him.”

Extra point: Receiver DeSean Jackson used an unfortunate choice of words after the game: “The pregame altercation got us going. It had us ready. We came back into the locker room pumped. We were like pit bulls, ready to get out of the cage.” Vick’s past won’t be forgotten, nor should it, but his excellence on the field seems to correspond to a willingness to be humbled. For those who missed it, his recent interview with his former coach Jim Mora Jr. is worth a look.

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