Thursday, November 8, 2012

Michael Vick’s Ironic Monday Night in New Orleans

By Charlie Scaturro

Although it’s impossible to know what’s going on in Andy Reid’s head as the Eagles struggle through another season that started with great expectations, it’s clear that the pressure was on Michael Vick to deliver this past Monday night against the Saints. Although the media may have sensationalized the situation a bit, there’s no doubt that Vick’s job security as the Eagles starting quarterback was the shakiest it’s been since he supplanted Kevin Kolb three years ago as the Eagles Week 9 game against the Saints loomed. Some even hypothesized that another poor performance would have one of the most polarizing professional athletes of all time sitting on the bench in favor of rookie Nick Foles.

And when you really think about it, how much time does Vick have left? I touched on this in a post a few weeks ago, and at the age of 32 not only is it becoming clear that Vick won’t be getting any better, but it’s certainly possible that his disappointing play this season is signaling the beginning of the end.

Heading into “the Monday night that would make or break the rest of his career with the Eagles”, Vick’s struggles had been well documented. He was turning the ball over too much, not making enough big plays, and a Philadelphia team that was supposed to contend for a Super Bowl title this year had a mediocre 3-4 record.

In the face of such adversity, and despite the fact that there were rumors of Reid replacing Vick after another underwhelming performance against the Falcons in Week 8, good ol’ Andy stepped up and declared that Vick would indeed be his starting quarterback when the Eagles faced the Saints in the Superdome on Monday night. Unsurprisingly, Reid wanted to give his $100 million quarterback the benefit of the doubt and he probably viewed a Saints defense that had given up the most yardage in NFL history through their first eight games as an opportunity to jump start Vick and this offense.

On top of everything, Reid knew that Vick gave him the best chance to win, and the idea of starting Nick Foles in place of Vick is akin to Boardwalk Empire’s Dean O’Banion pretending that Nelson Van Alden is his bodyguard who carries a weapon in his briefcase when Al Capone confronts him at his flower shop. Of course, the difference is that Nick Foles holding a clipboard is a lot less intimidating than Nelson Van Alden holding a large, non-descript suitcase.

When I heard that Reid made “the decision” to keep Vick under center against the Saints, I could see the Tuesday morning narrative reading: “Andy Reid rides into the Superdome on a horse made of Funyuns and has enough faith in Vick to resist the temptation of benching him, and Vick rewards the Eagles with 300+ passing yards, 85 rushing yards, and 4 total TD’s as Philly narrowly escapes a shootout with the Drew Brees and the Saints.”

As we all know now, that’s not what happened. On this particular night, it certainly seemed possible that we could witness a back-and-forth shootout between Vick and Drew Brees in which both quarterbacks took turns moving the ball down the field and lighting up the scoreboard. Not only did this meeting have the potential to be one of the more entertaining games of the 2012 season, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin to have a repeat of their famed Monday night explosion against the Redskins a few years ago (think this seems crazy? Remember we’re talking about a Saints defense that allowed over 1,000 yards of combined offense to the Chiefs and Buccaneers earlier this year).

Instead, they disappointed once again; scoring just 13 points as the Saints racked up seven sacks and Vick threw a costly interception as Philadelphia was on the verge of scoring the game’s first touchdown. When all was said and done, the Eagles lost 28-13 and despite the fact that they piled up 447 total yards and had some success moving the ball, they didn’t score a touchdown on any of their five trips to the red zone. It wasn’t all bad for the Eagles offense as LeSean McCoy rushed for 119 yards on 6.3 yards per carry, and Vick even hit DeSean Jackson for a spectacular 77-yard touchdown pass that trimmed the lead to 11 midway through the third quarter. But ultimately, this offense, and more specifically Michael Vick, once again didn’t live up to expectations and it played a part in the Eagles losing their fifth game in eight tries.

It’s tough to say what happens next for the Eagles, Andy Reid, and Michael Vick after another disappointing showing. Reid has already stated that Vick will remain the Eagles starter, so it doesn’t look like Monday night was his last chance (although we’re talking about the guy who declared that he was committed to Kevin Kolb as his starter a few years ago, so who knows). Even so, I found it ironic that Michael Vick failed to live up to the potential that existed for him and the Eagles to have a huge Monday night (or at least start moving in the right direction) in much the same way Vick’s career hasn’t lived up to the expectations many placed on him because of his exceedingly rare physical gifts.

What we saw on Monday night was what we’ve seen from Michael Vick his entire career; a sometimes amazing, always entertaining quarterback who could never put it all together and one who left football fans feeling disappointed if only because we saw a potential for greatness that was never fully achieved. If nothing else, at least Vick’s been consistent in this regard throughout his career.

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