The NFL world was buzzing last week when Andy Reid named Michael Vick the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback. Most were surprised and shocked by the quarterback change. Yet an objective look back at the last twelve months tells me that may have been the Eagles plan all along.
I have bled Eagles green for the last 25 years and while I have seen my share of surprises, none were bigger than when the Eagles signed Michael Vick last August. It just didn’t make sense. Why would a team one drive away from going to the Super Bowl disrupt what appeared to be a successful offseason with the signing of arguably the most hated player in professional sports? For a team that never liked distractions, the Eagles sure went out of their way to bring the circus to town.
Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles told us that Michael Vick could become the ultimate weapon. He wouldn’t be the starting quarterback or technically the backup (although that even changed quickly). Andy Reid was almost giddy when talking about the prospects of putting Michael Vick out on the field with Donovan McNabb. And that was it. Michael Vick would be this “toy” that the Eagles would use throughout the season, but of course he was never in the plans to be the starting quarterback or at least so we were told.
I am hardly a big animal lover, but taking away the personal aspect of this I was livid when the Eagles signed Michael Vick. I wrote a scathing blog here last season ripping the team to shreds and making several arguments as to why that scenario would never work and it would be more of a disruption than anything else. My fellow Eagles fans bashed me but over the course of the year I was right. Moving Vick in and out of the lineup was a joke. It became such a disruption that more than 75% of the time he would come in, the team would get some kind of a penalty. This was what all the fuss was about?
It all started to make sense this past offseason. Andy Reid traded Donovan McNabb on Easter weekend. McNabb had one year left on his contract and signed a restructured the deal the year before for more money (or known as the “Sorry I benched you in Baltimore gift”.) If the Eagles were that confident in going with Kevin Kolb in the future, than why restructure anything? I am convinced that the Eagles brass were 50/50 going into last season, maybe even 60/40 in resigning McNabb this last offseason and keeping Kolb around for two years as a backup. The Eagles are hardly a team known for giving away money. You don’t just give a guy extra money who you are planning to part ways with, unless you still need time to evaluate your pet project.
I don’t think for a minute that signing Michael Vick was as simple as using him as a toy for one season and flipping him. I think that Andy Reid was enamored with his talents and the idea of taking that raw talent and refining his quarterback skills. I think the Philadelphia Eagles were looking at Michael Vick as Plan B and a possible starting quarterback from the beginning. I think the Eagles were unsure of McNabb because of his age and injury history and unsure about Kevin Kolb for the reasons we saw against Green Bay. You don’t put your organization through the months of negative publicity you get with signing Michael Vick just to use him as a part-time player and trade him the following year. You put up with it and take your licks if you think you may have just signed the next franchise quarterback for the team at a bargain basement price.
The irony here is that McNabb went to the front office and pushed hard for Michael Vick. Either McNabb is a bigger moron than most people think or he really was that naïve. There is a very good chance that McNabb would still be a Philadelphia Eagle if Michael Vick never walked into the Nova Care Center. Reportedly, McNabb was very upset and disappointed when the Eagles traded him. I can guarantee that McNabb won’t be lobbying for anymore Pro Bowl quarterbacks to join his team in the future.
I heard all last season from reporters and analysts that the birds were going to flip Mike Vick this offseason for draft picks. That never made sense to me. The Eagles signed him for two years. The deal was worth $1.6 million for the first, $5.2 million for the second with a reported $3 million in incentives. Now think about this logically for a second. What NFL team in their right minds would trade for a backup quarterback at best who barely played last season that could make over $8 million in incentives? This was not a deal structured for a trade.
Finally, we have “birthday party gate.” In the offseason Michael Vick got into trouble for having a birthday party where people he wasn’t allowed to associate with were present and oh yeah, someone got shot. Now if this were any other player with Michael Vick’s history, he’d be gone. Remember, he was just the backup QB at the time. Eagles owner Jeffrie Lurie said that the Eagles would have a “no tolerance policy” for Vick. Now in most cases while that was a dumb situation to put himself in, that in itself isn’t grounds for cutting Mike Vick. Yet is there any other backup quarterback in the NFL with Vick’s history who would not have gotten cut for this? This was really the tipoff right here that there was something here that didn’t pass the smell test.
It is obvious that the Eagles were never fully confident that Kevin Kolb was the future of the team. No matter what they tell you, their actions tell a much different story. Kolb defenders immediately jump up and say, “Well Andy Reid said this was his team.” While he may have said that, the birds’ actions tell a different story. The Eagles only gave Kevin Kolb a one-year extension in the offseason worth $12.26 million over two years. If you break that down, it is less per year than Vick would make if Vick reached all of his escalators. When a team tells you how confident that they are in a quarterback and yet only gives him a one-year extension, there is trouble brewing.
There is no turning back for the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick is the starter and I predict at the end of the season he will get a contract that will make him the franchise quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have a very young team on offense, a team of guys that grew up playing Michael Vick in Madden and idolizing Vick. Hell, the team gave him the Ed Block Courage Award last season. The players love him, the coaches love him, the owner loves him, the fans love him, and barring a serious regression in play, there is no way that the organization will let Mike Vick walk and start next season with Kevin Kolb.
And that may have been the plan since last August.
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