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The Redskins hit Michael Vick nine times in the season opener, according to NFL.com. (USA Today Images)
It’s not going to happen. You’ve known it all along. Chip Kelly knows it too.
Michael Vick scrambled with abandon against the Redskins on Monday night. That was nothing new. Also not new: The shots Vick took to various parts of his body as he flopped to the FedEx Field turf rather than sliding feet first to avoid getting hit. You’ve read all this before. You know how it goes. But, hey, why not another review? Once more: Vick gets hit. Vick promises to slide. Vick’s coach says he’ll work on it.
Except that’s not how it went. Not this time. Oh, sure, in his day-after press conference, Kelly said the Eagles will “constantly coach it” and “emphasize it.” The “it” being the idea of Vick not offering his body up as a human sacrifice to blood-thirsty NFL defenders. But Kelly also said he’s “realistic.”
“I don’t think at 33 that we’re going to get him to hook slide,” Kelly admitted at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday. “That’s just, we can talk about it and wish for it. I don’t see that happening.”
After the Eagles dispatched the Redskins in the season opener, Vick addressed the media at FedEx Field. As he stepped to the podium, the quarterback walked with a noticeable limp. That wasn’t surprising considering how many times Washington tagged him after he did his patented, awkward face-plant to end a run.
As recently as this preseason, Vick promised to slide more this year. He even acknowledged that he’s said all that before and failed to deliver. But on Monday evening, when he was asked about protecting himself as he goes forward, Vick dropped the standard, tired pretense in favor of candor.
Vick said he felt like he could “play another four quarters.” OK, but did he also feel like he took too many unnecessary shots?
“Nah,” Vick said. “Not at all. I pretty much control everything that can happen out there on the field. I didn’t put myself in a position to protect myself at times. But that’s what I train for. That’s why I weigh 220 pounds.”
Vick smiled as he said that last part. He was messing around – for the most part. But there’s always an element of truth in good humor. When Vick says that’s what he trains for – to take hits – you believe him even when the lines are delivered with a knowing smirk. It is how the man plays, how he has always played – not by avoiding contact, but almost by courting it. It is part of what makes him so dangerous on a football field. And yet it is, obviously, also a danger to him.
Kelly said he’s “concerned about injuries” to all his players. And when he was asked about Vick getting out in front on some running plays in order to serve as a blocker, Kelly quipped: “Those aren’t by design.” The coach said it with a sly grin.
Don’t get Kelly wrong. He would like Vick to slide. A lot of people would like Vick to slide (even the president). But as Kelly acknowledged, we’re long past the point where wishing might have made it so.
“I think that’s the way Mike likes to do it,” Kelly allowed. “And I think that’s the way he’s going to do it. We just have to make sure we can put him in a little bit better situation than that. I don’t think we’re going to get him hook sliding.”