Eagles Extra crew breaks down Eagles-Saints matchup
Michael Vick's hamstring injury in Week 5 opened the door for Nick Foles to be the starter. (USA Today Images)
He hasn’t thrown a pass in more than two months. He hasn’t gotten through a full game since September. He hasn’t started and finished a game the Eagles won since opening day.
During the Eagles’ last playoff run, he was an MVP candidate, a Pro Bowl pick, one of the most exciting players in the NFL.
Today, Michael Vick has become almost a forgotten man.
With Nick Foles established in the quarterback seat that Vick occupied for most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons and the first month of this year, Vick has quietly drifted into the background.
And he has absolutely no complaints about it.
About any of it.
“It’s been rewarding just being able to watch this team grow, being able to watch Nick grow,” Vick said.
“The way we started out, going on a winning streak and having a totally different attitude, it’s been great. It’s been awesome to be a part of it. I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of the turnaround.”
The Eagles were 1-3 in the four games Vick started before he got hurt against the Giants, but that was more a reflection of a defense that allowed 124 points in those four games than anything Vick didn’t do.
His 86.5 passer rating was healthy, his 8.4 yards per attempt was one of the highest in the NFL and he was actually 15th in the NFL in rushing with an insane 9.3 yards-per-attempt average.
Then came a hamstring injury against the Giants and the opening Foles needed to establish himself as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
The Eagles go into their wild-card game against the Saints Saturday night as one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL, winners of seven of eight in the second half of the season.
Foles posted the third-highest passer rating in NFL history this year, and the Eagles were 9-2 when he played more than a half.
For Vick, it’s been easy to sit back and root for the 24-year-old Foles. The two remain great friends, and Vick has developed into the ultimate team guy since he arrived here back in 2009.
He genuinely wants Foles to succeed, and if his job is to hold the clipboard on the sideline and root for his friend, that’s fine with him.
“I’ve accomplished a lot of my personal goals that I’ve set in this league so there aren’t too many more,” Vick said. “I just want to win a Super Bowl. That’s it.”
Vick, who isn’t signed beyond this year, said he’s confident he’ll get a starting job somewhere in 2014. So ask him if he’s frustrated not playing, he looks at you like you’re crazy.
“For what? I’m not frustrated at all,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. It’s not about me.
“I’m playing again next year, that’s the way I look at it. I know at some point I’ll be back out there. So I still get to be a part of this team, I get a chance for my body to heal, to root for my guys who I have a lot of genuine love for. There’s no frustration at all.”
We’ve seen Eagles teams torn apart by locker room dissension and turmoil. See 2005 and 2012 for examples.
This team is so different. And when a four-time Pro Bowler who’s started over 100 games, won two playoff games and owns the NFL record for career rushing by a quarterback shows this type of humility and selflessness, it’s huge.
“It’s been great,” Foles said. “Our friendship continues to grow and to see him supportive of me and the team, it’s been awesome.
“When we won that game [in Dallas] the other day, we were like little kids in the locker room. I already had a ton of respect for him, but the respect just continues to grow, and our relationship grows.
“It’s great for the team to see a guy like Mike Vick, who’s one of the most dynamic athletes this sport has ever seen, be a team-first guy, like he always has been, and support the guys. That’s big.”
DeSean Jackson, Vick’s closest friend on the team, said he’s proud of how much leadership the 33-year-old Vick has shown this year, setting aside his personal ambitions and everything possible to help Foles and his other teammates.
“His biggest thing is leadership,” Jackson said. “He’s accepted the role, he never complained, not one day. He’s been in the league a long time, there’s a lot of things that Nick can learn from him, and he’s going to continue to go out there and be a professional.”
The Eagles, 10-6 during the regular season, open the postseason with an 8:10 p.m. game against the Saints at the Linc Saturday night.
It will be only the second time in his life he’s watched a playoff game from the bench. In 2009, he was No. 3 behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb when the Eagles lost 34-14 to the Cowboys in Dallas. He did come in for a trick play that turned into a franchise-playoff-record 76-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
“Still prepare the same way,” Vick said. “Still trying to make sure that I’m in synch with the game plan and the offense and what we’re doing and have as much input into the game plan as I can, because the fact is you never know when you’re going to be thrown into the fire.”