The fact that Chip Kelly has decided to keep Michael Vick on the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2013 season tells me that he wants to “give it a shot” in his first season.
Hell, the man will basically playing with house money this year.
The decision to keep Vick can be described as mystifying, aggravating and counterproductive — or — logical, understandable, and agreeable, depending on what side of the fence you’re on when it comes to the most polarizing player in the NFL.
However, like the majority of people, I’ve been under the assumption that Vick was going to be released by mid-March. I was all in favor of saying goodbye and starting anew with Nick Foles or some other quarterback. I’ve had enough of the injuries, terrible decision-making, carelessness with the football and the brutal turnovers.
Just like with Andy Reid, I had reached the point to which I was now “done” with Vick.
Furthermore, Kelly seems to have gone against his own wisdom by keeping him. He is known to have a serious distaste for turnovers and feels sacks are always the fault of the quarterback. Let’s take a look at a few quotes (courtesy of Rich Hoffman on Philly.com) by Kelly shortly after his hire in regards to how he views quarterbacks…
“In our attitude, every sack is the quarterback’s fault. It is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game on an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away, and give us another opportunity to make a first down.”
“The job of a quarterback is simple. He has to ‘let it happen, and not make it happen.’ We want to move forward. That is a concept you have to make your team understand. The cardinal sin at our place is the quarterback sack. We want the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in 1.5 seconds. That does not mean holding the ball until 2.5, waiting for someone to get open.”
All of that is the exact opposite of Vick. And when you consider his more-than-normal abhorrence for turning the ball over, Kelly might have a brain aneurysm by mid-season after watching Vick play.
So, what does Kelly think of Vick? Here is what he had to say on Monday after they announced his restructuring…
“I think in terms of Michael, we look at everything,” the Eagles’ new coach said. “What I look at is skill set, first and foremost. What he can do, how he can throw the football, how he can beat people with his feet. There are a lot of different factors he has. And you have to look at the landscape for other quarterbacks.”
“I think there is a lot more to Michael,” Kelly said. “I think quarterbacks are a byproduct of their experience. But to sit here and say I understood the system that Michael’s been in, whether he’s with the Falcons under Coach Reeves or here, that depends on the system that you run. Some of the systems that they run, they don’t ask him to get the ball out quick.
“Do I think he can get the ball out quick? I think he’s got an unbelievable release. It’s up and out and it’s quick. What he’s asked to do from a read progression and all those other things, I don’t know what he’s been asked to do in the past, but that’s our job as coaches where he can get the ball out quickly, because we have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball that are going to flourish when we get the ball in their hands. So that’s on us as coaches, not on the quarterback.”
That’s not exactly a bubbling endorsement of the guy you just restructured to presumably be your starting QB. He can throw? Well, yeah, he’s a QB…JaMarcus Russell can throw too. He can beat people with his feet? Not too much anymore, as Jimmy Kempski of BloggingtheBeast pointed out.
He’s got a great release, it’s up and out and it’s quick? Maybe, once he decides to actually throw it if he’s not too busy getting sacked because he held the ball too long.
And he doesn’t know what Vick has been asked to do in the past from a read progression standpoint? That’s a nice way of saying “yeah, I noticed he doesn’t do too much of that so I don’t know if he can or not.”
Without a doubt, the key takeaway from Chip’s quote is that one little sentence at the end of the first paragraph:
“And you have to look at the landscape for other quarterbacks.”
That is probably the only thing we need know as to the answer of why Vick will remain an Eagle. He could have said that one sentence, dropped the mic and walked off the stage.
Simply put, there is nobody out there Kelly feels he can get that would be better. At least not this year.
To say the least, I am not ecstatic about the aspect of watching one more year of the injury prone human turnover.
However, I have to look at this situation with some logic and optimism. You know…try to make chicken salad out of chicken shit or lemonade out of lemons…whichever eucatastrophic phrase you prefer.
If you can agree that there are no quarterbacks that we could bring in that you could either build around for the long term, or whom you can say is clearly better than Vick (or Foles), then this is really a no-lose situation. Alex Smith is better, but he’s not someone to build your program around and there is no way he’s worth getting into a likely bidding war for.
Earlier this offseason, I was talking about other QB possibilities including Joe Webb, Matt Flynn, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. However, if we’re being honest, none of those guys would be a clear upgrade or has long term appeal over Vick. They would have been merely different and only offer the allure of hope that they would do well under Kelly.
Furthermore, there is nobody coming out in the draft that even has the clear potential to be the next franchise QB (and thus better than Vick).
In keeping Vick, Kelly has decided to take a shot this year. Like a professional poker player, he’s playing the hand he’s been dealt instead of folding for his first year. He has one ace on the flop in Vick, hopefully he’s got a pocket ace to match.
When a new coach decides to keep the veteran QB instead of bringing in “his guy”, it usually means he’s not looking at his first year as being a scratch due to rebuilding. Veteran QB = plan to win now, not later.
By keeping Vick in the fold, Kelly can now throw most of his resources at fixing the defense while he concentrates on how to devise the best scheme around the skill players on offense already in place.
After all, Vick is, or at least was, the prototype quarterback for the offense that Kelly wants to run. The question is, can Vick do for Kelly what he hasn’t been able to do for any other coach in his career?
Kelly appears to be confident enough (or cocky enough) to feel that he can get out of Vick what nobody else has been able to. This will be Vick’s last chance to prove himself and he’ll have an opportunity to run an offense that he was seemingly born for (only born about a decade too early though).
If anything, Kelly has now raised expectations for his first season. Instead of writing off 2013 as a losing season, we can now entertain the possibility of competing…believe it or not. Fair or not, keeping Vick gives the green light for fans to expect more.
Everyone knows that this is an all-or-nothing year for Vick so the stakes are high, for him at least. Kelly will still get some reprieve if he fails, but he has now turned up the heat in the kitchen a little bit.
If Vick fails miserably, people will question his decision to keep him and cry about what he should have done, etc. And by the way, if you haven’t noticed, I’m talking as if Vick will be the starter come opening day.
Despite what Kelly or anyone else says, the starting job is Vick’s to lose. Everyone is saying there will be a true competition, but in reality it’s more like Vick would have to that bad to not get the job.
At the end of the day, we’re looking at a one year, roll-the-dice season by sticking with Vick. If Kelly comes up with snake eyes, he will just get his QB of the future next year when the draft is expected to be rich at that position with far better prospects to choose from (and thus truly build his program around).
The only downside to this is, we could essentially waste a year of football without reaping the benefit of a young QB going through his growing pains. But with no quarterbacks worthy of going through that process with, that point is probably moot anyway.
Personally, I would not have kept Vick. Of course, if I had things my way, we never would have hired Kelly in the first place to make it anywhere near “logical thinking” to keep Vick. However, I’m trying to look at this situation as a whole and keep things in perspective.
If I’m being 100% objective, the move to retain Vick makes sense when considering the specific circumstances of the offense Kelly wants to run and “the landscape for other quarterbacks” available.
Who knows, maybe Vick will play with a Chip on his shoulder this year in order to reach all of his contract incentives.