Vick wants to start, but should stay with Eagles

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Vick wants to start, but should stay with Eagles

He’s a confident guy. You wouldn’t expect him to say anything else.

When the season ended, Michael Vick was asked the obvious question. He replied with the obvious answer. If some people are uncertain about Vick’s future as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he isn’t among them. Vick said he feels “great” and that he still has “a lot of time to play in this league.” “I feel like I can still start in this league,” Vick insisted.

Vick has repeated the refrain several times since then. When recently asked by NFL.com whether he believes he’ll be a starter in Week 1 of the 2014 season, Vick didn’t hesitate.

"Absolutely," Vick said. "I can't see no other way."

When free agency begins a little more than a month from now, Vick is determined to make himself available to any team that might have a starting gig available. There has already been speculation that Tampa Bay and the New York Jets could be interested. Could be. Might be. Maybe.

Even if those organizations want Vick, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be good situations for him. He could go elsewhere and start. It’s possible. It’s also possible that he could sign with another team and end up holding a clipboard. If Vick re-signs with the Eagles – something he said he wouldn’t rule out – he won’t be a starter, but he will know exactly how he fits into the dynamic.

Vick should stay. The Eagles should want him to stay. It would make sense for both sides.

He has gone 20-21 with the Eagles (including playoffs). He’s currently sixth in franchise history in passing yards.

Whatever you thought of Vick before he came to town, it’s hard to find fault with how he conducted himself thereafter. After being released from prison, he worked with the Humane Society to educate children about dog fighting while also supporting a federal bill that would make it a felony to bring kids to dog fights. He donated $200,000 to renovate a community football field in Philadelphia. He also adopted a dog for his family after being legally cleared to do so.

There are surely people who will never forgive him for what he did. Vick knows that. But there are also people who spend regular time with him, and they speak about him in a much different manner. Even after he lost his job to Nick Foles, Vick commanded the locker room. He was a revered figure. He could have backed away from Foles. He didn’t. He could have been icy. He wasn't. He handled it as a professional. He was supportive. Maybe it was all an act – but if it was, he delivered an expert performance.

Maybe it was also an act when Chip Kelly gushed about Vick after the season. But there, again, was a believable delivery.

“I love Michael Vick,” Kelly said when asked what it was like to coach the quarterback. “I mean, that guy is awesome, and I think how he handled a very difficult situation, because of Nick's success, I don't think that ‑‑ that's not any indication of Michael's non‑success, and I think from what we've asked him to do since I got here, he's done everything.

"Unfortunately he got hurt, and that gave an opportunity to another guy, and I think sometimes for a lot of people, you put yourself in those shoes, that's hard to wrap your arms around because it's not like Michael was wrong and that Michael got benched. It was just a unique situation, and I think how he handled it, how he helped Nick through the process, it just tells you the type of person he is and the type of teammate he is, and I think that didn't go unnoticed by me, and I appreciate everything he did my first year here.”

You can’t fault Vick for wanting to start. He’s 33 years old. He’ll be 34 in June. He has only so many seasons left before he’ll be forced to put down the helmet for good and pick up some other interest.

The odds for next year’s Super Bowl are already out, and they’re not terribly long for the Eagles. They have a shot to contend next season, and their chances would be better with a quality backup – one who’s been in the organization for a while and knows how he fits. It’s not a starting job – but it’s not nothing, either.

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz's improvisation pays off big

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz's improvisation pays off big

Carson Wentz takes pride in not letting plays die easily. 

In Sunday’s 34-3 win over the Steelers, one play he didn’t let die ended up being the back-breaker in the blowout. 

We’re, of course, talking about the 73-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles at the 13:08 mark in the third quarter. Coming into the second half, the Eagles had a 10-point lead, but this touchdown pushed it to a 20-3 advantage and the rout was on. This play was a tone-setter (see story)

“That’s something that we talk about a lot,” Wentz said after the game. “We always say that a play is never dead. I like to make plays when we need to and everyone just does a great job of getting open in those situations.”

This was the first big off-schedule play Wentz has hit during his three weeks as the team’s starter, but the signs were there. In the Chicago game, there were several times where he showed his ability to extend plays. We broke them down in a film review last week (see story).

Throughout the week, Wentz had been compared to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. One of the reasons was their shared ability to extend plays and make something happen. Big Ben showed his ability in the first quarter and almost connected on a huge touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton in the back of the end zone, but the receiver couldn’t pull it in. 

When Wentz got his shot later in the game, Sproles was able to pull it in, then make something happen with his feet. 

“I saw Carson scrambling this way,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “Darren was literally right in front of me and when I saw him wheel, my first reaction was to find the sideline to see if he stepped out to be quite honest.  He hadn’t, and Carson just — it was like in slow motion — floated that ball up the sideline and Darren did the rest from there. It was a tremendous play from those two individuals. I guess the last thing I did is I always look back to make sure there are no flags on the ground on those long plays.”

There were no flags. Touchdown. Game. 

Let’s take a closer look at the play: 

Wentz is in shotgun with Sproles in the backfield with him. The Eagles come out with three-wide on the far side of the field and a lot of space on the near side. 

Stephon Tuitt, who actually had a pretty good game against the Eagles, takes this route to the quarterback. When he gets to left guard Allen Barbre, Barbre either didn’t see him or didn’t react quickly enough. 

While Sproles is still running his short out, Wentz feels the pressure and is able to step up through the hole created by Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. As soon as he makes it through, Wentz still has his eyes downfield. 

Now Wentz is through the hole and sees Sproles finishing his out-route. This is when Wentz, on the run, motions to Sproles to take off. This is something we’ve seen Wentz do a few times during his three weeks as Eagles quarterback. 

Wentz was left with a tough decision here. He could have run for 10, maybe even 15 yards. It was wide open, but he decided to try to make a play with his arm instead. 

“I always want to be a thrower first,” he said. “Even when a play breaks down, I’m always looking [to throw] because that’s where the big plays are happening. If I scramble I might get 5, 10, 15, 20 yards, but I’m not that fast. I always want to get it to the guys that can make plays. We always want to make plays when they’re there, and that’s what happened.”

With the line of scrimmage at the 27, Wentz has enough awareness to run horizontally to make sure he didn’t cross. And as soon as Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell takes that first step toward him, Wentz sees how much room Sproles has to work with. 

Ryan Shazier, who was covering Sproles on the play, froze and then started to step toward Wentz too. He said he thought the quarterback crossed the line of scrimmage, but Wentz was aware enough to stay behind.  

Once Sproles catches the ball in open space, he begins to do Sproles things. Defensive back Sean Davis took a bad angle on him and once he gets close, the veteran turns it inside. Davis said he was trying to buy time for the rest of his defense to get there and stop Sproles. It didn’t work. 

“Man, it’s Sproles!” receiver Nelson Agholor said. “Did you think he was going to get tackled?”

While he’s blocking downfield, Dorial Green-Beckham actually trips himself up and does a somersault. But it didn’t matter — Sproles didn’t need a great block. He pretty much did it himself. 

“Anytime that you can put it in the hands of [Sproles] something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it,” Wentz said. 

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Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

The Eagles crushed a Super Bowl contender on Sunday at the Linc. And Vegas took notice.

According to Bovada, the Eagles' odds to win the Super Bowl went from 33/1 to 22/1. Just nine teams have shorter odds to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are tops at 15/4, followed by the Packers (8/1) and the team the Eagles beat, the Steelers (9/1).

With the win, the Eagles also became the favorite to win the NFC East, going from 11/4 to 2/1. They're followed by the Cowboys and Giants (both at 11/5) and last year's division champs, Washington, is at 6/1.

The Eagles are also 12/1 to win the NFC.

Of course, the biggest story for the Eagles this season has been the emergence of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. He had his first 300-yard passing game Sunday and was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week. His odds to win MVP went from 50/1 to 33/1. Those are the same odds as Drew Brees and Eli Manning.

Meanwhile, former Eagles quarterback and current Minnesota Viking Sam Bradford went from 50/1 to 25/1 to win MVP.

While Wentz's MVP odds shortened, his odds to win Rookie of the Year actually got longer, going from 8/5 to 7/4. That could have something to do with the odds of Ezekiel Elliot (7/4), Dak Prescott (5/1) and Sterling Shepard (7/1) all improving.

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