Michael Vicks 2010 Season Not as Good as Advertised

Michael Vicks 2010 Season Not as Good as Advertised

Vick
will turn the ball over more in 2011. Whether you consider his past, the Eagles
offense’s past, or the past of players around the league as a whole, his 1.6
percent interception rate just isn’t sustainable. For reference, consider that
Peyton Manning’s never had an interception rate that low. Vick isn’t suddenly
going to throw 25 interceptions, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vick’s
interceptions to double over the course of a full season next year. He was also
able to recover seven of his ten fumbles.

-         
Football Outsiders Almanac 2011

Every once in awhile sports will prove you wrong – some of
us more than others of course (looking at you, Chronic Opinion). But make
enough proclamations about this team, or that athlete, and eventually you will
eat your words.

This is not one of those stories.

This is the first post in a two-part series, because I
discovered that I could not easily convince anybody that Michael Vick is and always has been a below average NFL quarterback without first dispelling the notion that he had
a great 2010. I mean the man was voted Comeback Player of the Year, and was
practically the runner-up for league MVP even though the voting swung
unanimously for Tom Brady. You would have to be a crazy person to suggest Vick
was anything less than tremendous! What about the Redskins game?

Let me backtrack for a moment. Vick did deserve Comeback
Player of the Year, and he did improve exponentially over the player he had
become in Atlanta – after two full years out of football at that. I’m not going
to sit here and tell you that he’s not a more refined passer than he was in
2006, or a better human being for that matter. He absolutely is both of those
things.

Neither of which makes him an effective quarterback, even though
he managed to look the part for one season – or half of one at least, if we’re
being generous. Where to begin? Perhaps in Washington, at the undisputed high
point of Vick’s tenure with the Eagles.

The Rise

Michael
Vick, who was given no chance to come back to the game by so many, now runs the
most dangerous offense in the game. The sheer improbability of this comeback
marks it as among the greatest in sports history, whether you like Michael Vick
or not.

-         
Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner after the Eagles
defeat Washington 59-28 on MNF

In a 59-28 romp over the NFC East-rival Redskins, Vick completed
20-of-28 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns, while also carrying the ball
eight times for 80 yards and two more scores. He looked simply unstoppable. Why
choose this, the game of a lifetime, you might ask?

Because it’s the great lie. We all fell for that performance
on some level. How could you not?

In a word, it was incredible – quite literally.

That was the game responsible for pushing positive Vick
sentiment over the top, with Steve Young and Trent Dilfer fawning all over him
on ESPN immediately after and the next day, describing the outing as “transformational”
and “the full fruition of the position.”

Prior to it, Vick had wins over a pair of sorry franchises
in Detroit and Jacksonville, which were bookended by his starting the season
number two on the depth chart and a rib injury that knocked him out of action
for a month. The only victory of any magnitude he had entering Washington came
one week earlier, a 26-24 clinger over the Manning-led Indianapolis Colts – a
quality win to be sure, but also one where the QB relied on his legs more than
you would have liked against the league’s worst pass defense.

The Skins were no exceptional foe either for that matter,
but after that it was too late to put the brakes on the hype train. Vick had
yet to commit a turnover at this point in the year, even though he hadn’t even
played in several contests, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin pointed
out he had ample opportunity to do so. “There have been a lot of times when the
ball has been in [an opponent’s] hands. They haven't caught the ball.”

In other words, Vick had been extremely fortunate up to that
point, and had anybody been willing to open their eyes, it wouldn’t have been
up for very much debate. Loser opponents, lousy pass defenses, recovered
fumbles, dropped interceptions… that kind of luck was never going to hold up.

The Fall

Vick … will always be Vick. That's never
been good enough before, and there's no reason to believe it suddenly is now.

-         
Andrew
Kulp on The700Level.com, September 16, 2010

Sure enough, it didn’t. Vick lost his first fumble of the
season the following week while posting his lowest passer rating (83.0) and
yards per carry (3.1) of the season thus far as the Giants blitzed the hell out
of him – yet since the Birds were ahead when the final gun sounded, those minor
details got buried. Next it was the Chicago Bears that smothered him, forcing
four fumbles, not one of which went to the other team somehow, but also a crucial
first pick of the season in helping Philly to a loss.

Vick would tread water against 6-10 opponents for two more
weeks until the most fraudulent moment of all occurred: the Miracle at the New
Meadowlands. For 52 minutes, this was the exact opposite of Washington. Vick looked
sloppy, out of sync, and barely able to complete so much as a pass. He was a
big part of the reason, if not the biggest, why the Eagles were trailing by 21
points in the fourth quarter to begin with.

Had the game ended in such abysmal fashion, the headlines
the next day would have read: Is the
Michael Vick experiment over? How many stories had to be scrapped or
rewritten on the count of that improbable comeback, the Eagles winning 38-31 on
a DeSean Jackson punt return as the final seconds ticked off the clock?

As it turned out, those eight minutes actually served as one
final showcase of Vick’s elite talent. Oh, we always knew he could run like the
wind, we know he can throw a pretty pass, and in the rare moments where he puts
it all together, he can have paralyzingly dominant nights like he did in
Washington, or eight-minute stretches of pure brilliance such as that comeback
against the Giants.

The problem has always been sustaining that level of play,
which he has never really been able to ever in his career, but especially not
since those supposed defining moments.

The End

Those eight minutes weren’t a sign of things to come, the
first 52 were. With a postseason bye essentially on the line one week later, a
lowly Minnesota Vikings team blitzed Vick into submission on a Tuesday night.
He turned the ball over three times in the embarrassing 24-14 loss, his worst
game in an Eagles uniform up to that point. The next time he stepped on the
field, the Eagles fell in the first-round of the playoffs to the eventual world
champion Green Bay Packers 21-16. Vick would throw the decisive interception in
the fourth quarter.

Now tell me again, how sensational was Michael Vick in 2010?
He was a better quarterback than he was at any point during his time in Atlanta,
that’s for sure. He was good enough to supplant Kevin Kolb. He was good enough
to beat inferior opponents. And he was good enough to produce two of the most
memorable moments in Eagles history. He was the Comeback Player of the Year.

In this case though, legend is not reality. The flaws Vick
exhibited in 2011 and ‘12 were showing from the very beginning. He was always
holding on to the ball too long, not reading the blitz, taking too many sacks.
The turnovers and injuries were always going to catch up to him. They were
already there. It was inevitable.

Why is 2010 – 10-6 with a first-round playoff exit – still celebrated as some extraordinary season?
Because of two-and-a-half games, and the name on the back of the jersey. If any
other quarterback had the year Vick had, signing him to a long-term contract
rather than searching for a quarterback of the future would have come under far
more scrutiny. Because it was Michael Vick, a former first-overall pick who was
at one time the most dynamic athlete to ever play the position, because he is occasionally capable of doing special
things on a football field, it was mostly received as the right thing to do.

It was all an illusion. An extra INT here, one spoiled comeback there, and it would've been just another 8-8 season from the Birds featuring middling quarterback play. It never should have come as a surprise when Michael Vick fell back to earth.

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Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

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Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

BOX SCORE

Though they still have the worst record in the majors by 3½ games, the 34-62 Phillies aren't playing like the worst team in baseball right now.

Not from an offensive standpoint, not from a starting pitching standpoint, not from a bullpen standpoint.

The Phils' offense stayed hot Sunday afternoon in a 6-3 win over the Brewers, their fourth win in five games and sixth in the last 10 (see Instant Replay).

Nick Williams homered again, Howie Kendrick had a very Howie Kendrick-like at-bat with the bases loaded, Jerad Eickhoff spun a quality start and the trio of Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Luis Garcia sealed the win.

The Phillies have scored at least five runs in seven straight games, which is something none of their recent division-winning teams did in a single season. It's their longest such streak since May 31-June 7, 2005.

Their starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in six of the last eight games.

And the Phils' bullpen has the lowest ERA in the majors since June 26 at 2.19.

A lot of things are clicking right now for a team that probably can't play worse than it did in the first half. The Phils' record remains hideous, but there are actually four teams with worse run differentials: the Reds, Blue Jays, Giants and Padres.

"My first year here as a coach was '09, and in no way am I comparing ourselves to that team, but it was reminiscent the way we've been swinging the bats of us coming back and coming from behind and catching up and beating other teams," Pete Mackanin said. "It reminds me to a certain degree."

For much of the season, Mackanin has walked into the Phillies' media room after a loss and said that his hitters aren't living up to their standard. For much of the season, the Phillies have made quick outs and life easy for the opposing pitcher. 

But with Kendrick and Cesar Hernandez back from the DL, with Odubel Herrera hitting .331 since June 1, with Maikel Franco walking as much as he's struck out the last 35 games, and with Williams' power and energy rubbing off on the rest of the team, many different Phillies are playing like they have something to prove.

"Everybody is playing for a job next year," Mackanin said. "Everybody is playing to be part of our future and I think the guys are competing among themselves. It's good to see. Everybody's more aggressive. They're into the games."

The energy added by Williams' arrival on June 30 has been impossible to ignore, though it's kind of a chicken-or-egg thing. Is there added energy because he and so many other guys started hitting, or are they hitting because there's a more positive vibe in the clubhouse and dugout?

"I like to do whatever I can to start the momentum or get guys going," Williams said. "If I do something exciting, they're like, 'Oh, he's playing hard.' But everyone's been hitting and everyone's been just playing the game right and just doing all the little things and that's how we've been able to come out with some victories.

"In close spots with the hitting, we've been able to knock a lot of guys in. It's just that hitting's contagious. I always say when one guy does it, why can't the next? That's how I think of it."

The biggest spot in Sunday's game came with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning. With the game tied, the Brewers switched pitchers and Kendrick quickly found himself down 0-2 before singling up the middle to score two runs.

Kendrick has missed 60 games this season and it's been frustrating for him because he's been so locked-in when he's played. After picking up two more hits Sunday, he's up to .353 with an .873 OPS. His numbers are rarely sexy because he averages about 10 home runs per season, but a versatile, perennial .290 hitter has value. It's why the Phillies' offseason acquisition of Kendrick made sense and it's why he figures to have some trade value even though Sunday was just his 36th game of the year.

"Not only is he a good hitter but he plays solid defense out there," Mackanin said. "He doesn't have the greatest range but it's not bad. He's average to maybe a tick above average. 

"I'm sure there's a lot of interest in a lot of our guys, (Pat) Neshek, [Kendrick], even (Joaquin) Benoit, (Daniel) Nava. We'll wait and see."

The non-waiver trade deadline is just eight days away and general manager Matt Klentak expects there to be some movement. The Phils' two best trade chips are Kendrick and Neshek and both had productive weekends. Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning to lower his ERA to 1.12. He's allowed runs in just two of 43 appearances.

And Kendrick has picked up right where he left off, going 4 for 10 since returning Friday from a hamstring strain.

"If I were scouting for another organization I'd recommend him," Mackanin said of Kendrick. "I'd put an acquire (label) on him."

We'll soon see what that acquire label nets the Phillies. The return won't be huge, but trading Kendrick will allow the Phils to add another young player with upside and open a spot back up for Aaron Altherr, who could return from the DL as early as Wednesday.

Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

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Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

On the eve of the official start of their 2017 training camp, the Eagles made a few roster moves Sunday.

The Eagles cut veteran cornerback Dwayne Gratz, placed defensive tackle Beau Allen (pec) and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles) on the Active/Non-football injury list, and officially signed quarterback Dane Evans out of Tulsa.

With the moves, the Eagles roster is at 89 players, one shy of the 90-man limit.

Gratz, 27, joined the Eagles late last season and has some NFL experience, but obviously didn't make a big enough impression this spring. It's likely players like C.J. Smith and Aaron Grymes were simply ahead of him.

Allen suffered a pectoral injury during the offseason and was unable to participate in spring workouts with the team. It's unclear if he'll be ready for Week 1. Allen is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract and was reportedly in contract discussions with the Eagles before the injury.

Jones, the Eagles' second-round draft pick, fell to them in the draft because of a torn Achilles tendon he suffered at the Washington pro day. Jones has said he won't speak to reporters again until he's ready to play.

Allen and Jones can be activated off the NFI at any point during training camp if they are medically cleared. Both players count against the current roster. Before the final roster is set, the Eagles will have decisions to make about both players.