Vick Gets What He Deserves

Vick Gets What He Deserves

Six years, $100 million, $36 guaranteed.

HUGE.

Fair.

There are no shortage of people out there today to take their shot at Michael Vick's brand new mega-deal, "too much" and "too long" being the general themes. "Big risks" and "old temptations" aside, the contract is actually just right.

The concerns, for the most part, are valid. Vick the player and Vick the person are both something of an enigma. We don't know if he can play under control enough to stay healthy and lead the Eagles to a championship, and we can only speculate what goes on in the mind of one of the most polarizing celebrities on earth.

There is one easy truth to understand though, and that is Vick is Philadelphia's franchise quarterback. Whether it's money, or years, or the lack of an escape plan you are having trouble swallowing, realize that a deal of this magnitude was inevitable from the moment they chose Vick over Kevin Kolb.

Money
There is positively no point debating the money. Vick deserves every penny he got, including the hefty guarantee.

According to Roob's breakdown, the yearly average makes Vick the third highest highest paid quarterback in the NFL, behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Sounds about right for the runner-up for league MVP. It's also roughly what he would have earned in 2011 under the franchise tag.

More to the point, this is the way business goes in professional sports. As long as revenues continue rising, so too will the money paid out. The next guy is going to get more cash, and a bigger guarantee, then the next guy, and so on until the bubble bursts.

And when you weigh in the bargain price the Eagles had Vick at last season--an absolute steal at $5 million--he was in line for a payday that reflected how he thoroughly outperformed his old contract.

Is it ideal? Of course not, but I doubt the Colts think what they are paying Peyton is ideal either.

[See Also: How Much of Vick's Cash Will He Actually Get to Keep?]

Years
What everybody seems to be hung up on are the six years, which frankly surprises me. Did the world collectively forget the duration of NFL contracts are not guaranteed?

Not unlike the vast sums of money they are paying him, the Eagles were not going to get away with another short term contract. Vick has an agent and plenty of leverage. Just because there are obvious pitfalls at his age, and especially due to his style of play, does not mean he was going to settle for anything less than the standard for a franchise quarterback.

If that were the case, everybody in the NFL would be playing on one-year deals, since any of their careers could be over today.

Plus, we have yet to see how the contract is structured. Considering the way the Eagles ordinarily do business, it would be fair to assume they have some protection on the back end. They have been expert at the negotiation table for over a decade, and always wind up owning the upper hand in the final years of virtually every deal.

There is one risk though, and it has little to do with Vick being 31, or how injury prone he is. The real issue is Vick still has not proven he is the guy that can finally push this franchise over the top. There are faults in his game. If he can correct them, he could be unstoppable. If he never takes the next step, it could be a long time before Philly has a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Conduct
I feel like this is barely worth touching on, but it is out there, so we will address it.

People act as though Vick might turn around and resume slaughtering dogs now that he is set. I find that line of thinking quite bizarre.

I don't know Mike Vick. I don't pretend to know whether his efforts to change are sincere or not. I am also aware his troubled past goes beyond the dog fighting operation. At that stage of his life, he had surrounded himself with many characters of ill repute, and the result was scandal seemed to follow Vick wherever he went.

It was only last summer when an incident ended with a shooting at his birthday party.

My opinion is that he would have to be pretty stupid to get involved in the type of situation that would jeopardize his entire career, the type that would be handled under a "conduct clause." It makes zero sense. You may not like or trust the guy, but after everything he has been through... really?

Value
Here is the point I think everybody is missing: Michael Vick isn't just a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles--he is a brand.

When Vick joined the team in August of '09, fans were buying number seven merchandise the very next day. When he became the starting quarterback last September, legions of Vick backers embraced rooting for the Birds. Today, you can hardly tune in to ESPN without seeing Vick's image plastered on your computer monitor or television set.

Few players in professional sports are more instantly recognizable; even fewer, if any, are more popular. He gives the Eagles franchise unprecedented reach and visibility on a national scale, precisely the sort every organization desperately craves.

Translation: $$$.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if Vick is overpaid (he isn't) or if his contract is too long (it's not). The simple fact is his presence gives the organization the ability to print money, and while I don't agree with the notion that money is the only thing Jeffrey Lurie really cares about, it certainly does not hurt.

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Ben Simmons rolled his right ankle during scrimmage on the final day of training camp. He was taken for precautionary imaging. The results have not yet been completed.

Jerryd Bayless did not scrimmage because of a sore left wrist, which the team continues to monitor. He sat out of Thursday's scrimmage for the same reason.

Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday's scrimmage in accordance to his load management. The Sixers are being cautious with players as they return from injury. Okafor underwent right knee surgery last season. 

Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

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Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

Temple (2-2, 0-0 AAC) vs. SMU (2-2, 0-0 AAC)
Lincoln Financial Field
Saturday, Noon, ESPNews

If recent history tells us anything, we should expect to see some crooked numbers on Lincoln Financial Field’s scoreboard Saturday afternoon when SMU visits Temple in the conference opener for each team.

The last two times these AAC programs have met, the final scores have wound up 59-49 (a SMU win in Dallas in 2013) and 60-40 (a Temple win in Dallas last season).

Temple is coming off a 48-20 homecoming demolition of Charlotte. The game was basically over early in the second quarter, a frame in which the Owls scored 28 points to blow away the 49ers. SMU is coming off a 33-3 home loss to in-state rival TCU. The Mustangs hung tough for the first half and the score was 6-3 at the break, but the Big 12 powerhouse Horned Frogs took over in the second half.

Weather could play a factor Saturday, though, as current forecasts call for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the Philadelphia area all afternoon.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s the matchup.

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has been in a much-needed groove since the second half of the narrow loss at Penn State two weeks ago.

Last week, Walker went 15 of 26 for 268 yards and two touchdowns – a 51-yard bomb to Adonis Jennings and a 40-yard quick strike to Brodrick Yancy. On the season, Walker has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 846 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite target has been Keith Kirkwood, who has 14 grabs for 191 yards and two touchdowns through four games.

It should be no coincidence that Temple’s offensive revival has come with the return of star senior running back Jahad Thomas, who missed the first two games of the year with a dislocated left thumb. In the two games Thomas has played, he’s got 127 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Sophomore Ryquell Armstead, who also has four rushing scores, leads the Owls with 166 yards on the ground. Last year against SMU, then-freshman Jager Gardner ripped off a school-record 94-yard touchdown run.

One other offensive note: Temple head coach Matt Rhule was finally pleased with his offensive line after the way it played against Charlotte. Earlier this week, he praised offensive line coach George DeLeone and the job he’s done recently trying to get work out the issues on the line. The Owls didn’t give up a sack last week. True freshman Matt Hennessy started at left guard last week while redshirt sophomore Jaelin Robinson saw time at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if they see significant playing time again.

Two things have concerned Rhule defensively – a lackluster pass rush and the tendency to give up big plays.

Through four games, the Owls have yet to establish any sort of consistent pass rush. They have just four sacks through four games. They had 10 in last year’s opener against Penn State alone. The good news for Temple’s pass rush is that SMU starts a freshman QB and his given up nine sacks through four games, so opportunities to disrupt the pocket should be there on Saturday.

Temple’s defense has allowed 10 plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage this season, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Charlotte’s Kalif Phillips last week.

Injury-wise, the Owls are relatively healthy. Sophomore wideout Ventell Bryant, who was believed to be dealing with a shoulder injury, announced on his Instagram this week that he’d been cleared to play.

Scouting SMU
The Mustangs’ rebuilding efforts took a big hit during the first game of the season when senior quarterback Matt Davis, who played very well against Temple last season and hurt the Owls with both his arm and legs, was lost for the year with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Ben Hicks has stepped in and his tenure so far hasn’t been so hot. He’s completed just 50 percent of his passes this year and has thrown just two touchdowns compared to seven picks.

Despite the inexperience and lack of production at quarterback, SMU will still push the tempo with a fast-paced offense that can rip off chunks of yardage instantly and averages 448 yards per game. A big reason for that is the play of sophomore wideout Cortland Sutton, who has 449 receiving yards and four touchdowns already this season. Sutton, whom Rhule had very high praise for earlier this week, averages 24.9 yards per reception. Sophomore tailback Braeden West is no slouch, either. He’s averaged 93.8 yards per game on the ground this season and has two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, SMU has a couple of ballhawks in its secondary. The Mustangs are tied for tops in the nation with 10 interceptions through four games. Sophomore corner Jordan Wyatt is tied for the team lead in picks with three and also leads the Mustangs with 25 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Walker will have to be wary of where Wyatt is at on the field. Senior Horace Richardson also has three picks already for the Mustangs.

While SMU’s takeaway numbers are pretty, the Mustangs’ total defense numbers are ugly. They give up an average of 449.8 yards per game, which ranks 98th out of 128 teams in the FBS. The 27 points the Mustangs allow per game are good 70th in the FBS.

History
Saturday will mark the third meeting between the schools in the last four years and fifth overall. As mentioned above, the two teams combined for 208 points the last two times they’ve met. Those last two meetings have been the only meetings between Temple and SMU that have had definitive finals. They tied in both 1942 (6-6) and 1947 (7-7). So feel free to call Saturday’s game a rubber match.

Storyline to watch: Second test for Temple's secondary
Thus far this season, Temple has faced a triple-option team in Army, an FCS team in Stony Brook, a weapon-filled offense in Penn State and a second-year FBS team in Charlotte. Needless to say, Penn State was the only true test Temple's defense, specifically the new-look secondary, has had to face and it didn't go so well, especially in the first half when the Nittany Lions tore the Owls apart with slant plays for huge chunks of yardage. While the Owls' defense calmed down, the Nittany Lions still finished with 287 passing yards and 403 total yards. Temple's secondary will have its next test on Saturday with Sutton and SMU's receivers. Corners Derrek Thomas, Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston and safety Delvon Randall have a prime opportunity to gain more confidence against a young quarterback with a tendency to make mistakes. Junior safety Sean Chandler is still the unquestioned leader of the group.

What’s at stake: Getting conference play started on the right foot
If the Owls want to be taken as a serious threat to repeat in the AAC East, this is a game they have to have against an inferior SMU team. This is the first of nine straight AAC games, and even though SMU is in the AAC West, this game is still a tonesetter for rest of conference play. The Owls don’t want to fall behind right off the bat. And they really don’t want to fall behind right of the bat this week, with a short week and travel to Memphis for a game on Thursday looming. Yes, that’s two games in five days coming up for Temple.

Prediction
Even if the weather doesn’t hold out, points will be scored at the Linc on Saturday. Just not as many as the past couple of years. At this point in time, Temple just has more talent and it looks like the Owls are finally getting things in sync. Temple 38, SMU 21