FOR THOSE of you who know my approach to sports you know that I'm basically an optimistic fan (you may remember that it wasn't too long ago that I predicted that the Phils were going to make the playoffs). Despite my natural optimism, all year long, I've felt pessimistic about our beloved Eagles. I liked Chip Kelly, but I didn't think we could adapt quickly enough to run his offense well, and I thought our defense would be as effective as the Maginot Line.
When asked by Birds fans how I thought we would do this year, I replied 7-9, and I'm not sure I really believed we would even do that well. But lately I've been experiencing a slight stirring of optimism. It may only be indigestion, but I don't think so. I attributed it to the Man On Fire - Michael Vick!
That's right! Lately, I've been dreaming that it's 2010 and I'm watching him dismember a proud Redskins defense with perhaps the greatest offensive show ever on "Monday Night Football." I don't wake up yet, and I'm viewing us playing the hated Giants at the Meadowlands. It's the fourth quarter, and the Birds are staging what is perhaps the greatest comeback in franchise history. It appears that Superman is playing quarterback for the Eagles and the Giants are fresh out of Kryptonite.
Now admit it. Even if you didn't want us to re-sign Michael Vick, you long for those days. We were damn good and just about the most exciting offense to watch this side of those Oregon Ducks. And admit it. Didn't the way Michael played against the first-string defenses of the Patriots and Panthers make you think it was 2010 all over again?
Unlike many of you, I was glad the Eagles re-signed Michael, and I was rooting for him to win the job. I have nothing against Nick Foles, who is a bona fide NFL quarterback. But I was pulling for Mike because of the way he has conducted himself on and off the field. It was clear in training camp that he was one of the leaders of the team. This was especially true after the Riley Cooper incident, when he stepped up and said all the right things.
He has done all the right things off the field, as well. He has worked tirelessly in schools throughout the region telling students how horrific and inhumane dogfighting is and how horrible his actions were. He has done this for the most part without any cameras, and with little or no publicity. And in the same week he was named starting QB, he donated $200,000 grand to repair a North Philadelphia sandlot football field.
With all of that being said, the main reason I was rooting for Michael to win the job was all about football. I am sure you are like me when I say that my fondest hope this year for the Birds is that we will be playing games in December that mean something, and that we are somehow still in the hunt in Game 16. I felt very strongly, and still do, that our only chance for that to happen is with Mike Vick at quarterback playing at his 2010 level. There simply is no other way we can score enough points to be in the race all the way.
Can Michael do it? Can he return to the form that almost earned him the NFL's MVP award in 2010? Can he stay injury-free this season? I say that he can and he will (looks as if the eternal optimist has re-entered the building). Why? First, because he has been reinvigorated by the idea of a new start in Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. He came to camp in great shape. Last Friday night, Mike made Cam Newton look as if he were operating in slow motion. Second, this offense fits his skill set to a T, and he has silenced those who thought he couldn't make the necessary quick reads. Third and most important, he will succeed while at the same time having a real shot at escaping injury because this year's offensive line - with the return of Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce and the addition of Lane Johnson - is light-years better than last year's line. With this very good o-line and the quick -release passes in Chip's scheme, Michael will not be a target for blitzes for very long.
So let's hope for the best. It could be a great ride. And one more thing, Eagles fans - Chip made it clear that his decision wasn't for only the first game, but that it was for the season. As he said, we are a one-quarterback team. So if Michael starts out slowly against the Redskins, don't start yelling for Foles or for Matt Barkley. Michael and only Michael can lead us to the Meadowlands in February.