About a month ago, I wrote a column about the Eagles giving Michael Vick an extension and wondered about whether the timing was wise:
My buddy Dean, a die hard Eagles fan, doesn’t necessarily disagree with the decision to pay Vick, but he questions the timing. “I don’t understand why they had to do this now instead of waiting until, say, Week 6. At that point they could have better seen if his greatness is sustainable, if he got better at avoiding hits, and if defenses had figured him out.” At this point, the Eagles probably would not have had to pay Vick that much more than they just did but would have been more educated in what they were investing in.
In Sunday’s 29-16 loss to the Giants, Vick left the game with a contusion (which was originally thought to be a fracture) on his non-throwing hand. This was the second straight game that Vick was forced out due to injury as he suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Falcons.
After Sunday’s game, Vick griped about the perception that he gets treated differently than other quarterbacks. ”Looking at the replays, I’m on the ground every time, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated,” Vick said. “The refs have got to do their jobs. And I mentioned it to the refs in training camp when I talked to them. I’m on the ground constantly, all the time. Every time I throw the ball, I’m on the ground. And I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does.” While Vick had a point (that he has since recanted) that he is treated a little bit differently on roughing the passer calls when he remains in the pocket than, say, Tom Brady or Drew Brees, most of the hits that Vick takes are when he is scrambling and doesn’t take the necessary precaution to shield himself from harm.
In his weekly Ten Pack, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio wrote:
After a 29-16 loss to the Giants that dropped the Eagles to 1-2, Philly quarterback Mike Vick complained about the fact that he hasn’t drawn more flags for roughing the passer. But Vick should worry less about getting hit and receiving 15 yards and more about not getting hit as much as he gets hit.
He’s still reckless with his body, and in a season featuring plenty of quarterbacks who are racking up hundreds of yards of passing by making fast decisions, Vick needs to process information more quickly and get rid of the ball.
Even though Vick exposes himself to injury on these plays, it is not entirely clear that the proper solution would be for him to temper himself. He is at his best when he is improvising and darting around, making plays with his arm and his legs. Where the quarterback position is traditionally a synthesis of mind and body, Vick plays much more instinctively. His body is constantly churning at 100% without regard for consequences. He plays without a singular shroud of self-doubt and this is precisely what makes him so electrifying and difficult to contain.
Unfortunately, the characteristics that enable Vick to be so elusive in the face of opposing defenses, the threat of which opens up the passing game and other creative elements in his team’s offensive game plan, expose him to punishment. If defenses had to worry less about his running, they would focus more on exploiting his comparatively inaccurate passing. IF Vick slid, IF Vick threw the ball away, IF Vick stopped running with reckless abandon, he would be less susceptible to injury but also, in all likelihood, a less effective quarterback.
What this all means is that there is a high risk for the Eagles that Vick will be unable to sustain his performance as a healthy, elite quarterback for the duration of his contract extension. It calls into question why they traded back-up Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie–who has yet to see very much playing time–instead of keeping him as an insurance policy and why they did not wait until the middle of this season to evaluate whether it would be prudent to give Vick his extension.