With Michael Vick back in the fold, all safe and signed Monday to a one-year contract, Eagles fans can sit back, cross their fingers and hope that new coach Chip Kelly’s next personnel move creates as much hullabaloo as his first.
Perhaps Leon Sandcastle falls to the Birds with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Kidding aside, for all the concern about Vick’s age and mounting aches, he remains a remarkable talent whose skill set intrigues Kelly. Neophyte to pro circles notwithstanding, Kelly is entitled to his opinion and value assessment as it pertains to his team and the quarterback he wants to run it.
That kind of comes with the territory. Whether Eagles fans want it or not, that’s what the organization agreed to with bringing in him and his read-option mindset from the college ranks. Kelly will have his imprint over every aspect of the on-field product from this point on, and with his decision to bring back an injury-prone lightning rod to run the show, he made an unwavering statement.
He is not afraid of controversy, and that he doesn’t sweat what others think of him and what he chooses to do.
If anything, when answering queries about his initial move of consequence, no apologies to his list of ho-hum staff hires required, Kelly came across as a smaller, cuddlier, more personable version of the coach whose droning on with nonsensical coachspeak actually numbed the enthusiasm of the league’s most rabid supporters.
Granted, it took Andy Reid 14 years to fully achieve that lifeless fiefdom – and then he was gone.
Kelly has a little more charm to his “game,” and a little less condescension in his tone and comments. He seems a little more open to – or capable of – bonding with the masses than his predecessor.
But, make no mistake, he has made it clear that he will pay favors to no party just to be accepted or more liked. He has determined that Vick suits his system best.
The question is: Why wouldn’t he?
With pocket-passer Nick Foles as his other option on the current roster and the likes of Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib as the uninspiring quartet of top QB choices available in April, Kelly isn’t exactly facing a quandary.
Eagles fans, so dumbed down by Reid’s final foray in Philly that yielded an abysmal 4-12 campaign, have been clamoring for free-agent QB Alex Smith. Um, go back a paragraph, circle the word “uninspiring” and write over it in neon-red ink to emphasize that reality. He is a boring alternative, and offers not a smidgeon of the big-play potential that Vick does in Kelly’s offensive scheme.
While stat geeks will point to wins, losses and turnovers as the tell-all of Vick’s tale the past two seasons, they hardly do justice in giving a complete picture of a player saddled by poor coaching, a porous offensive line and some of the worst hands witnessed between the lines. Tight end Brent Celek headlines the list of receivers with sieve-like qualities at certain junctures, too often turning a sure-fire catch into an excuse-me interception, but he’s hardly alone. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and female fan fave Riley Cooper have had their share of less-than-shining moments, too – costing their team games and their QB stats, cachet and respect.
Vick still takes the heat for overthrowing Cooper in a first-round 2010 playoff game against Green Bay. Really? If Cooper makes any play on the ball whatsoever, and actually makes use of his 6-4 frame, the game doesn’t end there with a pick.
Like him or loathe him, Vick coming back is hardly Armageddon.
Even with turning 33 by the time the season starts, he remains one of the truly electric athletes in all of sports. He is fast, tough and headstrong. Frankly, if you’re talking just throwing a football, no one possesses a better arm.
Kelly, obviously, sees all that.
Vick has flaws, no doubt. That ultra-competitive drive puts him in danger to endure big hits, and his belief in his ability has him push the envelope at times when it is unnecessary.
But Kelly sees a fit for his offense – at least a better fit than anyone else out there. His offense needs a guy at the controls who has wheels, an arm and a quick release.
Vick has all that … and Kelly believes he can utilize all that better than anyone else in the NFL ever has.
If that fails, maybe the Sandcastle kid turns out to be a star in the secondary – a place where the Eagles really need some help.