Leading up to the opener, I will go position-by-position and player-by-player to preview what could be in store for all 53 members of the current Philadelphia Eagles. Click here for the breakdown of the running backs, here for the linebackers here for the wide receivers here for the defensive line here for the defensive backs, and here for the offensive line and tight ends. Moving on to the quarterbacks and specialists...
Michael Vick - Since the Eagles signed him in the summer of 2009, Vick has won over many fans in the Delaware Valley. But there are certainly those who can never forget what he was a part of before he arrived. And that's OK.
From a football perspective, though, Vick's development will be one of the most intriguing story lines in the league this year. In 2002, he became the full-time starter for the Atlanta Falcons, leading them to the playoffs and making the Pro Bowl by piling up 777 yards on the ground. In five seasons as the starting QB, he led the Falcons to the playoffs three times. He went into Lambeau and beat the Packers. He got to the NFC championship game. He signed a $100M contract.
And then everything fell apart.
Vick spent part of his late 20s in prison, his reputation and legacy damaged to a degree that no one could have ever imagined.
The Eagles surprised everyone by signing Vick, and after spending one season as the third-string quarterback, he took over the starting job. Now, we see what happens with Vick 2.0.
He set career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, yards per attempt and QB rating last season. But he was not perfect. Seven interceptions in his last six games. Struggles against the Vikings and for three quarters against the Giants. A first-round exit against the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers. And a shortened offseason, where he did not get to work with Andy Reid or Marty Mornhinweg.
Vick recently said in a national interview that no defense can be designed to stop him. The truth is, he's right. If Vick learns to attack the blitz with the precision we saw from Aaron Rodgers a year ago, if he finds the right balance between being a pocket passer and demoralizing defenses with his legs, if he continues the work that made him so good a season ago, there really are no limits. Vick has perhaps the most unique skill set in NFL history.
But those are the IFs. And that's what the 2011 Eagles season is really about. Since they signed Vick, the Eagles have turned the page on the Donovan McNabb era and the ever-so-brief Kevin Kolb era. They're banking now on Vick being the first quarterback ever to bring this city the Lombardi Trophy.
Maybe it will happen this year. Maybe Vick will regress. Maybe it will happen next season. Maybe it will never happen. But that's why we'll watch. And that's why Vick is must-see TV, starting today at 1 p.m. against the Rams.
Vince Young - Quarterback school continues for the Eagles' backup. He will likely be inactive today, but for Young, this season is about reshaping his career. He won a national title in college. He won 30 games in the NFL. He made two Pro Bowls. But after a falling out in Tennessee last season, this was a smart career move. Young will learn all he can in one season and catch on somewhere as a starter in 2011. At least that's the plan.
If he has to enter the game early in the season, the Eagles will likely need to simplify the offense. But we saw Young's talent in the final preseason game. The team will be able to get by with him for a few weeks. If Vick goes out for an extended period of time, this narrative will take a different turn.
Mike Kafka - He deserves credit. The second-year quarterback out of Northwestern looked like he knew what he was doing in the preseason. If Vick goes down today, he'll have to step in. The ideal scenario would be for Kafka to continue to develop and become Vick's primary backup in 2012.
Alex Henery - Back in May, I took a look at the results teams have had with drafting kickers fairly early in recent drafts. Since 2000, six kickers have been selected in the fourth round or earlier. Nate Kaeding (Chargers, 2004) was good as a rookie. Jeff Chandler (49ers, 2002) was not. All we can do is wait and see how Henery performs. He looked OK in the preseason. He made big kicks in college. Now we find out if he's up to the task at the next level.
I don't have a lot to say about Chas Henry or Jon Dorenbos, but the point of this exercise was to go through all 53 players. If the preseason is any indication, Henry will be fine as a punter. He had ups and downs in the preseason, but that's probably just the nature of the position. Perhaps the bigger concern is that he and Dorenbos get the snap and hold down without any issues on field goals and extra points.
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